Nestlé offers consumer-driven innovation in response to COVID challenges

Nestlé International Travel Retail (NITR) remains committed to the confectionery category in travel retail and continues to invest in measures to drive industry growth despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on travel.

In an online media briefing in September, NITR general manager Stewart Dryburgh and Marketing Manager Tamara Spada said the company maintains its faith in the sector’s resilience and ability to recover and previewed several product innovations that will help drive its recovery.

Nestlé has weathered the COVID-19 storm better than many other companies. “People need to eat. And we are very fortunate to be part of a company that helps feed the world,” said Dryburgh.

 “But no business unit within Nestlé has been as badly hit as ours,” warned Dryburgh. On the plus side, as of last year, NITR has been expanding its portfolio on food in the broader sense and also on channels beyond the airport. It increased its focus on duty free zones and border stores, diplomatic and military, which allowed it to sell more products in the food category rather than the impulse buying of confectionery you see in airports.

“This has really offset some of the worst that has happened this year,” he noted.

“Our industry has always shown itself to be resilient over the long-term. Identifying the correct growth drivers to meet the needs of the post-COVID-19 traveling consumer are critical to moving forward and our innovations for 2021 reflect this – notably the economic effect that COVID-19 is having on disposable incomes.”

As it has for the past few years, NITR bases consumer engagement on the four-pillar brand-building model of SOUL – Story, Occasion, Unique and Local.

     In the current environment, NITR will be focusing on its best-selling SKUs with an eye towards differentiation from the domestic portfolio, explained Spada.


KitKat to drive recovery

KitKat, which has been delivering consistent growth ahead of the market, is NITR’s key strategic brand to drive recovery in 2021. This accelerated growth has been primarily driven by KitKat’s premium offering, KitKat Senses.

For 2021, Nestlé is extending the KitKat Senses line with a lower-priced travel retail exclusive – KitKat Sense Tablets –with a suggested retail price of under five euros. The new tablets are available in three flavors: Caramel Crisp, Cookie Crumble and Hazelnut Crunch, and will launch on March 1, 2021.

Nestlé will bring the KitKat portfolio to life in 2021 with its V.I.B Lounge concept initially introduced to retailers at TFWA World Exhibition last year and implemented highly successfully for Chinese New Year during January 2020 at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 in partnership with Lagardère Travel Retail.

Sustainability: SMARTIES moves to paper packaging

Nestlé continues its sustainability program for its SMARTIES brand by removing all single use plastic packaging and moving to paper across all formats.

This year, Nestle relaunched the SMARTIES Travel Retail Exclusive Music Creator with a new carton box and digital content.

In the year to come, the brand will change its full core confectionery range to recyclable paper packaging, including replacing the plastic lid on the Smarties Giant Tube with a cardboard closing, as well as replacing the plastic Top-per figures with paper stickers;

and converting the tube shape to a hexatub with a paper sticker. The plastic Smarties bags and

pouches will be replaced with sturdy paper.

NITR will also be starting the roll out of recyclable packaging for all its travel retail Nestlé Mixes & Quality Street pouch and sharing bags during 2021. Nestlé aims to have 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.


Nestlé Swiss: A travel retail exclusive success story

Nestlé Swiss, Nestle’s travel retail exclusive tablet with visible ingredients that debuted in 2019 with three flavors, is relaunched in a new “more self-indulgent size” of 170g. The three original flavors are joined by Nestlé Swiss Dark Blueberry 170g

The Nestlé Swiss portfolio will be supported in global travel retail with strong merchandising and POS displays that promote the Swiss lifestyle concept.


Coffee and infant products

One of the more exciting innovations for NITR is the introduction of opportunities from across its group’s portfolio. As such, NITR is launching Nescafé Gold into travel retail for 2021. A global icon that is a natural for traveling consumers, the offer will include product for premium, standard and value buying levels.

     Nescafé has reached phenomenal year-on-year growth in travel retail since it was first launched in 2016, and experienced a +120% sales increase between 2018 and 2019, said Spada. “We see great need for the product in this channel.”

NITR is launching its iconic Nescafé Gold in airports where the brand is not readily available in the domestic market, including Asia Pacific, Latin America and Africa. For these regions, Nescafe Gold is aspirational, with its sustainably sourced carefully selected Arabica beans.

In regions where passengers are already familiar with Nescafé Gold, NITR is launching Nescafé Artesano Santuario, which is made with intense arabica beans from Colombia, which is the only market where the brand is sold domestically. Nestle is also launching the full-flavored Nescafé Red Pillar in border stores.

“So between the three we are able to meet a wide variety of shopper needs,” noted Spada.

Additionally, NITR is also planning to introduce a range of premium infant products under the illuma brand to travel retail, targeted at the Chinese consumer.