GTR Creates New Benchmarks

Bacardi's Leila Stansfield outlines strategies to improve duty-free shopping, focusing on digital integration and customer engagement to boost sales of premium spirits like Patrón Tequila. She highlights the importance of personalized experiences and educated staff to transform travel retail into a more dynamic sector

New Update
Leila Stansfield, MD, Bacardi Global Travel Retail

It is no longer enough to simply display the various brands at duty-free shops and allow consumers to choose what they want. There are a whole lot of other strategies such as in-house promotions, the presence of knowledgeable retail ambassadors and digital conveniences that have come into play to make the duty-free shopping experience turn into an enjoyable memory, says Leila Stansfield, Managing Director, Bacardi Global Travel Retail.


Global Travel Retail (GTR) has indeed opened the doors for new opportunities for leading brands of alcoholic beverages. It gives a unique chance to spend time with consumers, especially when such brands have professionally trained retail ambassadors in beautiful shopping environments. "A prime example is Vinay Chaudaray, one of our retail ambassadors at Delhi Duty Free, who won a major travel retail award in APAC in 2023 for his excellence in shopper engagement, product knowledge and professional selling skills," informs Leila Stansfield.

Vinay has set the bar for all retail ambassadors and is an inspiration for others to perform at their best. As such, upgrading the skills of retail ambassadors and recognising their value and importance in consumer engagement and up selling is turning out to be a far more sustainable approach to building the premium spirits category in India, rather than relying on price discounts that drive volume but curtail profitable category growth. Brands like Bacardi, for instance, are working with retail partners in the Indian travel retail space to improve and expand the omnichannel experience.

"We are working with retail partners in Indian travel retail to improve and expand the omnichannel experience, to connect with consumers along their travel journey, facilitating click and collect options, while allowing the retail environment to come into its own with beautiful, head-turning campaigns, not just around key cultural moments but also to tap into what else in is trending locally. Our mission at Bacardi is to create moments that matter and inspire consumers to fall in love with our brands, "elaborates Leila.

According to Leila, results in several other markets demonstrate the power of omnichannel in driving penetration and conversion. No single party can do that effectively on their own. However, when it's brand-retailer-airport, and ideally extended to include airline and ground transportation, in an end-to-end experience for the consumers, that's when Travel Retail can really unlock its potential.

Patron ElCielo

Growing Community of Shoppers

Leila informs that only around 50 percent of travellers become shoppers and digital solutions enable effective targeting of the remaining 50 percent with meaningful connection at points on their journey - pre-travel, during and post-travel. That is a crucial opportunity to step-change premium spirits' growth in the Indian duty-free environment. "Research demonstrates that over half of alcohol duty-free buyers begin thinking about their purchases before reaching the airport and 19 percent of the average duty-free shoppers would have pre-ordered at least one of their orders online," she explains further. This is a growing community.

Worldwide exclusive database holder Mindset has revealed that only 35 percent of the travellers are aware of pre-order services and over 55 percent would be willing to use pre-order, underlining a massive opportunity to drive online and in store conversion. "This translates to increased investment in dedicated omnichannel campaigns, including a wide range of digital approaches with multi-layered campaigns of programmatic and social media; driving data collection for post engagement, geo-targeting, digital out-of-home screens on the concourse, and personalised digital brand experiences," elaborates Leila.

She confirms that Bacardi is highly excited by the Indian duty-free market.

Not only is there unprecedented growth in people travelling aboard for the first time, but the scale of investment in airport infrastructure makes India a huge priority market for a brand house like Bacardi.

Bacardi is gearing up for more innovation across its portfolio and investment while it partners with Indian retailers to maximise the growth potential. Bacardi is the largest privately held, family-owned spirits company in the world and global travel retail is prioritised as a strategically important channel for brand-building, especially in markets like India that are powered by a new generation of consumers travelling internationally for the first time.

Patron Cielo Tequila

The Bacardi Formula

With its unique dynamics of premium shoppers, extended dwell time and prime retail estate, travel retail is something that Bacardi takes seriously on its strategy list. "It encourages us to inspire consumers to fall in love with our portfolio of beautiful brands," is how Leila puts it. The company feels that this is a perfect environment for it to engage with a wide range of consumers, and to excite and delight them with innovation, travel retail exclusives and in-store theatre, especially around key cultural occasions and festivals as well as the many different new year celebrations across the Indian sub-continent. "We are on a mission to help consumers celebrate the moments that matter on their travels with new discoveries and unforgettable experiences," Leila adds.

The company's portfolio includes many award-winning and category-leading brands. In the strong Indian whisky market, it has been prioritising Dewar's - considered the world's most awarded blended Scotch whisky - and a sublime collection of single malts including Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, Royal Brackla and Glen Deveron. "Our pipeline of whisky innovation includes many travel retail exclusives, created to appeal to the large number of whisky connoisseurs and collectors. This also includes 'whisky insiders' who see travel retail as a specialist market where they will find rare and exclusive products to add to their collections, often with new twists on classic whisky-making," she points out.

According to Leila, by far the greatest current opportunity for alcobev travel retail in India is the extraordinary growth in super-premium tequila, a category that is on fire across the globe and is the fastest growing alcobev category in India. In travel retail globally, it is the biggest contributor in the premiumisation of the entire spirits category, and is led by Bacardi owned Patrón Tequila. The company's strategic focus is to drive further category value, thereby investing in high impact Patrón activations in new markets. This is underpinned by a strong pipeline of prestige innovations such as Patrón El Cielo and Patron El Alto, taking the brand to greater heights. "We are on a mission to inspire the next generation of consumers to discover the beauty of Patrón, the perfect ingredient in delicious, high-quality cocktails," Leila states.

The company is confident that Patrón will ignite every aspect of the tequila category and even transcend spirits to become a global luxury icon. With Patrón as the global category leader, the company's approach to introducing it to India GTR - in parallel with its domestic market expansion - is to help consumers understand and appreciate the difference that the super premium range brings to tequila, with sophisticated, elevated cocktails and new sipping occasions. It is, as Leila says, "a modern way to enjoy the pure, unadulterated 100 percent Blue Agave in Patrón.
" In addition, the company's white spirits portfolio, including Bombay Sapphire Gin and Grey Goose Vodka, are also popular with Indian consumers and feature in its assortment in Indian travel retail. 

Dewars Stone GTR