Monday, 13 October 2014

The Blog is About The Consumer Behavior of International Travellers

In 2012 my company, Horizon Consumer Science, began a study of the consumer behavior of international travellers.  This study is designed to monitor changes in the basic facts of travelling consumers, so it covers things like:
  • Why shop at all when travelling?  After all, there are many ways for travellers to spend their time on activities other than shopping.  In fact, some would argue that travelling is a reason to escape from your routine at home which includes, for many people, shopping. So, why do people shot at all when the travel when they might just enjoy staying at the beach or the bar?
  • How do travellers choose where to shop?  Multi-billion dollar decisions, particularly in relation to airports, are made on the basis of assumptions about what will appeal to travellers in terms of where they shop.  So here we try to understand whether or not any of these assumptions are valid.
  • How do travellers choose what to buy? What travellers buy when they travel is, when you think about it for more than half a minute, very different from what they might buy at home.  Some of this is driven by practical considerations. For instance, it is hard to put a refrigerator in your checked luggage regardless of how desirable it is, so there are clearly severe restrictions on what people might buy on their travels.  Further, while historically the strongest motivator for buying when travelling has been a better price compared to home, is this still valid in the days of online shopping across international borders and the global reduction in tariffs?
  • What do travellers actually buy and where do they buy it?  There are some who believe that the only meaningful activity of travelling consumers is what they do in airports.  But, our research has always shown that airport purchases are only a small fraction of the stuff that travellers buy.  So, the question is what do they actually buy, where, and how is that changing over time?
  • How much do travellers spend? We want to understand the size of the market, what it is composed of in terms of products purchased and locations where purchases are made, and how it is changing.  
  • What are the perceptions of the different places travellers might shop? A huge amount of investment is being made in airport shopping these days. One simple question we want to answer is whether or not it pays off.  Are travellers noticing changes in airport shopping and does it make any difference to their preferences about where they want to shop when they travel?
  • What brands are travellers interested in buying?  Many of the companies interested in selling to travellers offer branded luxury goods and their decisions about what brands to stock and how to merchandise them are based on beliefs about the brands that travellers want.  Similar decisions based on assumptions about what will work where are made by the brands themselves in order to capture spend from travellers.  So, this study is interested in monitoring the brands that travellers want to buy:  luxury brands as well as brands of alcoholic beverages, beauty products, cigarettes and other tobacco, confectionery.
  • Who are these travelling consumers?  We are also interested in understanding who these people are in terms of their travel experience and the circumstances of their trips as well as demographically who they are and how these characteristics are changing over time.
Twice now, once in 2012 and again this year (2014) we have surveyed 7400 travellers from 36 different nationalities.  We have chosen the nationalities to represent different regions of the world - these nationalities are generally the ones that travel internationally in the greatest numbers every year.  We find these people through online panels in their respective countries and survey them using our own proprietary software for conducting online surveys.  We include an assortment of carefully constructed questions to weed out people we don't think are being honest or diligent (and we are surprised at what we find here, but that could be the subject of a different blog).

We plan on conducting this study every two years and will be reporting on changes as they occur.

You are welcome to purchase the overall report from us.  We publish a comprehensive report covering all the topics above for all the nationalities we survey.

What I am going to report in this blog are things that are not appropriate for the overall report either because they too detailed or too specific, or where the perspective is one that is better reported in this format.

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