CircleSquare challenges travel retail industry to be ready when trading opportunities emerge

A CircleSquare activation at Cancun International Airport for Diageo.

London-based CircleSquare is calling on the travel retail channel to be “ready to start the race” when consumer spending returns in airports post COVID-19.

 The experiential marketing, brand activation and consumer engagement specialist works with retailers such as Dufry, DFS and Gebr. Heinemann and a wide range of international travel retail brands including Diageo, Mondelez and L’Oréal.

The company’s executive creative director and founding partner, Philip Handley, says that brands and retailers should be looking to hit the ground running with retail activations and experiences that will capture the attention of air travelers who are likely to be cautious and safety-conscious as the industry gradually gets back to its feet.

Handley says that brands and retailers should spend this enforced downtime from COVID-19 developing ideas and plans for an eye-catching comeback when traffic starts moving again:

 “They will be the early winners post –COVID,” he says, warning that companies that “put the brakes on” could miss the chance to “access a significant share of the consumer spending” when people can move freely again.

“There are going to be a lot of people who are not going to be ready to start that race… more agile brands could make huge gains over competitors by acting now and preparing properly.”

 Handley notes that there are signs of a rebound for consumer spending in China, with COVID-19 cases down to manageable numbers and the domestic flight market starting up again. The travel retail industry in countries where the coronavirus pandemic is still at its peak, such as many in Europe, need to track activity and be ready, as their recovery is likely to follow a similar pattern to China and other Asia Pacific countries, he says.

These recovering countries are experiencing what Handley describes as “Revenge Consumption.”

He comments: “Most of the best retail experiences we create for brands take between three and six months to execute, from strategic planning and conceptualization to fabrication and installation in store. That means brands and retailers need to start briefing their creative agencies now to be ready on time. CircleSquare has been offering clients a free planning service: “We have the proven ability to create activations that drive footfall,

increase dwell time and change the focus away from a pro-duct’s price and onto a product’s experience – this is what you will need to succeed in winning the early business when it becomes available,” says Handley.

He adds that even if budgets are on hold, travel retail directors should start planning now, testing new ideas for retail space without sacrificing revenue so that they can be ready to move quickly when the time comes.