Airport Merchandising: Psychographics 102

By : Jerry Zeephat

February 27, 2014 10:00 AM

With the increasing importance of generating non-aeronautical revenues in the airport business, we’ve seen a fascinating shift as our transportation hubs have morphed into shopping malls whose parking lots just happen to accommodate large aircraft. During any given layover, we can now buy not only a newspaper, but also a three-piece suit, a new iPad, jewelry, and a nice bottle of wine. The transition’s largely complete – there’s little that we can’t buy within the confines of the major airport that we can get at the local shopping mall.


A few years ago, the question on the minds of airport operations was “How can I enable a strong retailing presence within my facility?”  But today, the question is taking its next logical progression: “Now that I can do retail, how can I grow it?”


With more than 120 years in the business, NCR will be the first to attest that retailing is an old science, and we can carry over many proven best practices and leverage that knowledge, but the special quandary for airports is that the consumer is quite different from “traditional retail” in terms of psychographics – the attitudes, opinions, and general mindset of the consumer.  It’s clear that some innovative new thinking and strategies are needed to address what is a very different-minded audience from that of the shopping mall, in order to grow revenues.


Today, the question on the minds of airport operations is "Now that I can do retail, how can I grow it?"



In the case of the mall, everybody’s there because they want to be. Consumers flock to malls with the express purpose of shopping, and can spend as long as they like to browse and buy. In the airport, let’s face it: you’ve got a comparatively cold buying audience compared to the mall. The majority have more pressing matters than shopping foremost in their mind, namely, getting from Point A to Point B. This makes the retailing challenge quite a bit steeper.


On the bright side, you don’t need to worry as much about luring the foot traffic of a fickle shopping public; the airlines provide that traffic by default. And better still is that travelers - as a whole - are an extremely affluent shopping demographic. So you’ve got consumers in both quantity and quality; two of the biggest challenges for traditional shopping mall retailers are, in effect, already solved!


When you’re ready to take the next step and start thinking about making your airport’s retail presence more effective,  consider the role that technology – already in use by many leading retailers – can play in


... Capturing consumer interest - via dynamic digital signage,


... Targeting relevant, personalized offers – via eMarketing and Loyalty program management solutions,


... Engaging consumers  - via interactive self-service merchandising and point-of-sale,


... Reaching consumers on-the-go - via mobile solutions designed to work in concert with all of the above.


Being able to look at the entire consumer journey in a holistic way, rather than a single point of view, can help airports engineer precisely the right mix of solutions to tap the full potential of what is an extremely lucrative audience.


To learn more about airport merchandising trends, download this free webinar.