Heineken’s GDF strategy looks to maximize onboard revenues

In a strategic overview of the global business in Ferries, Airlines and Cruises, Niek Vonk, Manager Global Duty Free & Travel Retail for Heineken says that the group’s mission is to be the most relevant brewer of Beer, Cider and other relevant drinks categories.

Niek Vonk

“We are determined to do all we can to ensure our customers maximize the onboard commercial opportunities. Global Duty Free is a unique and exciting channel for us to engage a huge range of consumers from across the globe with our brand portfolio and we are committed to developing our longterm partnerships in Ferries, Airlines and Cruises,” he said.

Vonk says that Heineken is focusing on several strategic areas, as part of its long-term commitment to duty free.

Portfolio innovations to meet changing customer needs
Instead of the one-range-suits-all strategy when supplying beers and ciders in duty free, Heineken develops customized portfolios based on journey origin and destination, sharing re-start learnings from other markets and global beverage trends.

Consumers are often looking for no/low-alcohol beers, trusted local brands or more premium, craft options, says Vonk.

Its latest portfolio innovation, Heineken Silver, is a new, extra-refreshing lager brewed to 4% ABV, crafted using an ice-cold brewing process at -1°C to provide a lighter drinking profile that works across a wide spectrum of drinking occasions and is well suited to the cruise market. It is launching now in European Ferries and Cruises.

Other innovations include nonalcoholic Heineken 0.0, Italy-inspired Birra Moretti, Lagunitas IPA craft beer, or local favorites like Kalik from The Bahamas. The company also provides a balanced range of draught beers and ciders underpinned by consumer insights.

Intensifying commitment to global sustainability
A key priority for Heineken is the roll-out of its ‘2030 Brew a Better World’ global sustainability and responsibility ambition.

These initiative include a KLM partnership – Brewing with green energy, in which 100% of the Heineken and Heineken 0.0 beer served onboard Dutch flag carrier KLM is now brewed with 100% green energy.

“Over 2.4 million cans of Heineken and Heineken 0.0, brewed carbon neutral, have since been enjoyed on KLM flights– an important step in a longer journey for Heineken to become carbon-neutral in production by 2030,” he said.

Since July 2020, all Heineken beer brewed for the Dutch market has been made with sustainable thermal and electrical energy, as the company strives to become carbon-neutral in all production sites by 2030.

Sustainable POS in Cruises
Heineken Global Duty Free has introduced sustainable points of sale and merchandising for its ferries and cruise customers, replacing printed materials with digital formats where possible, and prioritizing the use of long-lasting POS and merchandising assets made from sustainable and reused materials.

To reduce waste, Heineken is also developing plans to recover used PET kegs from cruise customers in order to recycle them and bring them back into the market.

Other strategies include generating value for customers by motivating their teams. Among other projects, Heineken has developed a range of crew training options such as the Heineken Star Serve Program and interactive games to enhance their product learning and to develop their hospitality skills with the chance to win exciting prizes if they hit sales targets.

The company says that it is also meeting business issues such as supply-chain disruptions head-on, and shifting from a ‘just-in-time’ supply-chain model to a ‘just-incase’ strategy.

“Within the travel retail sector, Heineken Global Duty Free has decades of experience, strong partnerships with industry stakeholders, and the latest data-driven distribution systems to meet the specific and often challenging requirements of servicing the niche Ferries, Airlines and Cruises sectors. Throughout the trading year, we deliver our product within tightly controlled timeframes to minimize out-of-stock situations– a promise we continue to keep,” noted Vonk.