AIRPORTS: The Ultimate Destination for Brand Activations?

With shifts in airport retail design to allow for increasing passenger volume and retail demand. Sustaining the excitement that is harmonious with airport experiences the question remains, Are Airports the Ultimate Destination for Brand Activations? 

What do airports have going for them? 

Airports are a unique space where most customer moods are very positive and also where the opportunity for impulse buys are at there highest. Most frequent flyers will normally arrive early so they can browse with the intention of picking up a travel gift. We’ve all done it and retailers are well aware of shoppers buying intent when in an airport. Modern airport designs also have a large part to play in developing areas for retail space,  especially brand activation zones. 

So are Airports The Ultimate Destination for Brand Activations?

The Answer: Is Yes!

In recent years new airport hubs and terminals have put far more emphasis on retail space. Intuitive airport design concepts funnel passengers into vast retail areas with the specific intention of driving spend. This benefiting retailers and also airports who are generating another highly lucrative revenue stream through retail rates. Luxury high-end brands have truly embraced the opportunity to sell here, developing extravagant eye-catching boutiques with alternative and fun shopping experiences. Price is no longer the main motivator to buy. Changes in buyer behaviour would suggest that Duty-Free shopping has become a thing of the past since its abolition in 1999 throughout the EU. Other incentives have been driving sales with mainstream brands entering the airport retail promenade to catch the attention of eager spendthrift shoppers. 

AIRPORTS: The Ultimate Destination for Brand Activations?

Courtesy of Wall Street Journal 

Where does technology contribute to brand activations?

As design has evolved in recent years to allow for an enhanced retail experience there are other more important reasons like airport efficiency. With the surge in passenger airline traffic and increasing global projections for the next decade, airports will need to become more efficient at every point of the passenger journey. Airport user-friendly app technology has found a purpose in helping customers navigate through these mini-cities. Some brands have also embraced advanced technology to immerse passengers in their brand experience.

AIRPORTS: The Ultimate destination for Brand Activations?A fine example of two companies coming together to develop an immersive brand activation is Bacardi and Virgin Atlantic. Their partnership saw the development of a new VR experience for customers in Virgin Atlantic flight lounges. The experience with the aid of a VR headset brings users to the best bars in the world, each with its premium Bacardi based house cocktail, mixed there and then by specialist mixologists. Sit back and relax! And enjoy the finest rum based cocktails from the best bars in the world!



The Opportunity is here!



Get Inspired!

Check out these really creative examples of Brand Activations in Airports.

Virgin Atlantic and Coppa Club Rooftop Igloos: Heathrow Airport London

AIRPORTS: The Ultimate destination for Brand Activations?

Virgin Atlantic and Coppa Club London partnered to provide a very unique lounge experience during the Christmas period with rooftop Igloos at Heathrow Airport. Introduced in 2016 by Coppa Club on their own rooftop terrace overlooking Tower Bridge in London, they became an instant success. They comprise of small glass Igloos seating up to eight comfortably and provide fantastic views of Heathrow’s busy airport runways and terminals.  


AIRPORTS: The Ultimate destination for Brand Activations?

Courtesy of Lonely Planet 

AIRPORTS: The Ultimate destination for Brand Activations?

Jim Beam Popup Store : Munich’s ‘Franz Joseph Strauß’ Airport

When Jim Beam launched a new product “Jim Beam Honey” to their existing bourbon whiskey range, they utilised Munich’s Franz Joseph Strauß airport with a very large unique popup store. The layout was simple to achieve two objectives, firstly to provide a tasting area for the new variety and two encourage an action to make a purchase. Accompanied by a catchy tagline “it was worth the sting” they capitalised using the honeycomb effect throughout the store, shoppers were also entertained by beekeepers at tasting stations to drive the in-store experience. 

AIRPORTS: The Ultimate destination for Brand Activations?

Courtesy of Jim Beam 

AIRPORTS: The Ultimate destination for Brand Activations?

Made.com Lounge Popups: Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport

Another very creative example of utilising airport space was done by MADE.com an online English furniture brand based in London. They are well known for exhibiting popup experiential showrooms across Europe. With seating in airport terminal waiting areas notoriously uncomfortable, MADE saw an exciting opportunity to showcase their comfy lounge furniture. They set up lounge seating areas located in Schiphol Airport’s high traffic volume zones where passengers tended to wait. This provided travellers with some much needed comfort and allowed the brand to boost it’s awareness.

The campaign was highly effective in developing the brand and at the same time provide a functional user friendly alternative in the hustle and bustle of a busy transport hub. Schiphol also benefited by introducing more exciting lounge seating, modernising the feel of the airport and refreshing the experience for its travellers. 

AIRPORTS: The Ultimate destination for Brand Activations?

Courtesy of MADE.com

Airports provide localised Brand Advertising Opportunities 

Nielsen Study (April 2018)

Swapping the HighStreet for the Terminal 

Global air travel passenger figures rose again by 6.5% in 2018 (according to the IATA) and are projected to double in the next 20 years to 8.7 Billion. This analysis was collected from passenger traffic volumes in over 1200 airport hubs worldwide. More footfall means more opportunity to sell, no wonder most high street retail brands now see the opportunities that lie within an airport terminal. It’s great news for airports who are already a cash cow from increased passenger and cargo freight airline traffic, they now have an extra revenue stream from retail rates and temporary event/brand based activation zones. For all retail brands, it also provides a unique opportunity to reach a wide variety of customer personas and demographics within one area. 

“84% of frequent fliers likely to visit a restaurant, 50% likely to visit a clothing/accessories/jewellery store and 41% likely to visit a consumer electronics store.” 

Nielsen Study 2017  – A Study of Frequent Flyer Responsiveness

Nielsen Study (April 2018)

The primary purpose of the study was to identify how responsive airport advertising was to different types of travellers, especially frequent flyers. Secondary was to highlight how local and national businesses alongside airport retail and hospitality benefited from this highly effective form of media. 

The report provided useful insights into the types of media and advertising that flyers engage with during the time in the airport waiting for their flights. This explained what action and activities they took next in terms of in-store or online shopping and also engaging on social media to check out more about the brands they had just become aware of. 

Key Findings from the Frequent Flyer Study 

> 80% Noticed Airport Advertising

> 42% Took an action as a result of seeing the advertising 

> 19% Made a purchase as a result of airport advertising 

> 74% Arrive at least an hour before check-in to browse and shop 

> 79% Shop for food and beverages

> 67% Dine at an airport restaurant

> 51% Shopped for travel accessories, technology & media products

> 87% Spend their down time on their mobile devices 

> 36% Visit a brands website to find out more about it after seeing an airport advertisement

For further information on the Nielsen Study please click the link here.

There are endless creative ideas that can be incorporated into airport journey experiences. It’s the perfect contact point for brand activations. With airport design adapting to shifts in retail demands and increased passenger volume, brand activations provide the necessary excitement that is harmonious with airport experiences. They serve as valuable testing grounds for brand and customer research not to mention how much they add to the ‘Thrill of Travelling’.