Airport Merchandising: Psychographics 101

By : Jerry Zeephat

February 20, 2014 07:56 PM

Much to the chagrin of my wife and daughter, I’m not much of a fun date when it comes to the family trip to the shopping mall. I freely admit that I am a “surgical-strike shopper.” If I need a new pair of shoes, I park my car as close as possible to the door nearest the shoe store. I walk through the door with blinders on, directly to the shoe store, buy my shoes, and leave. Mission accomplished.


Now, I’ll admit that if I’m at the mall on a weekend afternoon, and feeling particularly gregarious, I might peek into a couple shops that I pass on the way and (gasp!) actually browse, and maybe even buy something on a whim. But if the shopping mission is being performed during a lunch-break from work, I’m 100% in surgical-strike mode, because in the back of my mind, I’m also thinking about the presentation I’m working on, the meetings I have to attend later in the day, and the 18 undone to-do’s in my current queue.


And when I travel on business, which is quite a bit, I tend to have a similar mindset as I traverse airports, and I suspect many other business travelers do as well. This is surely a great challenge of airports seeking to grow their retail business, as they attempt to attract more spending from the ever-present stream of affluent business travelers more focused on business than pleasure. 


This can be approached from two different directions, the first being to lessen the stress of business travelers so they can afford a moment or two to relax a bit, and be less concerned with the necessities of work. Some of the things that, personally, help me in this regard are readily available internet access to catch up with business, and then somewhere to charge my electronics, especially in a transit airport, as it’s a virtual certainty that at least one of my device’s batteries is drained at that point. Another is high-quality airport Wayfinding; the sooner I can attain a comfort level with where I need to go next, and how to get there, the better.  Ten minutes spent hunting for this information is 10 minutes not spent dining or shopping. 


The other direction is to increase the allure and convenience of the retail presence. If shopping is too far away, or if I don’t even know it’s there, it’s a non-starter. For allure, dynamic digital signage that alerts me to the retail offerings within my immediate vicinity can help “set the hook” and perhaps draw me to a store or restaurant. Convenience is another matter, though.  NCR research has shown that one of the top reasons travelers give for not shopping is because they don’t want to leave their gate, or are afraid of missing their flight.  Self-service merchandising kiosks can help bring the shopping experience to where the buyers are -- at the gate or in the lounge. Self-service gives travelers the option of purchasing wherever they may be, and having products delivered to them, either at the gate or even shipped to their home or destination. 


For more information on developing an interactive wayfinding strategy, please download this free white paper.  Also, to learn how one of the world’s busiest airports is benefitting from wayfinding, watch this video.