Whisky Drives GTR Growth

Whyte & Mackay's Clarisse Daniels discusses the burgeoning impact of single malt Scotch whisky on travel retail, particularly through India's robust market. With strategies that cater to premium tastes and digital engagement, Whyte & Mackay aims to capitalize on the growing demand among younger, affluent travelers looking for exclusive and luxurious spirits experiences.

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Whisky Drives GTR Growth

Whisky and especially Scotch whisky continues to be the backbone of the spirits segment in both Indian and global travel retail and according to Pl Insight, whisky is the preferred alcoholic beverage for Indian nationals in global travel retail, says Clarisse Daniels, Regional Director, Global Trave Retail - Whyte & Mackay. She explains that single malt Scotch whisky has been a driving force for the continued growth of the spirits category in travel retail in the recent years and this trend is forecasted to continue.


Following more than two decades of strong growth, the single malt Scotch market is now worth $10bn globally.
This is despite tight allocations in some areas. According to IWSR, from a travel retail point of view, single malt is the third biggest category in the spirits' market.

"This growth trend is being bolstered by the importance of the single malt sector in key markets such as India, where whisky is the preferred spirit for 60 percent of alcoholic beverage buyers in travel retail. In fact, single malt is the number one duty-free category in some locations, including Delhi and Mumbai Duty Free," informs Clarisse. 

Alongside this trend, Clarisse Ollls Oul lal We ale also Seelle the continued importance of premiumisation in the market. "Single Malt is a great driver of the prestige (above $100) segments in the market. The beauty of the single malt Scotch category is that it is recruiting more consumers, it is predicted to grow faster and it is driving a bigger shopping basket", explains the Regional Director.

Demographic Advantage

Dalmore Global Travel Retail

She goes on to point out that single malt is becoming the biggest Scotch whisky subcategory in many countries, including the USA, China and Dubai for instance (IWSR). W&M has developed a category growth strategy rooted in insight and have developed point of purchase principles to improve the shopping experience. From this in-depth research, we understand that the growth of single malt whisky is being driven by three evolving trends.

Younger consumers are driving the single malt growth, and with India's demographic advantage, the future is looking promising for the malt category. "The Gen Z population of legal drinking age in India is larger than that of the US & China combined'! Gen Z is predicted to be the largest group of travel retail shoppers by 2028. Many of these younger consumers are making single malt Scotch their first entry into whisky," she explains.

Single malt players exploring GTR options cannot overlook India as our diaspora has great influence in travel retail. "Besides being the single biggest domestic population globally, the Indian diaspora is the biggest in the world with cross influence in markets including USA (4.4million) & Dubai (3.4million)," informs Clarisse.

All these favourable factors make India an ideal destination for global travel retail. Moreover, she points out that 44 percent of high-net-worth alcohol buyers in India are women; these shoppers love single malt as it conveys status and success.

More Spending and Discerning

Secondly, younger consumers are driving a global trend of the rising middle class, particularly in this part of the world (India), which has one of the largest middle-class population in the world. As their spending power continues to grow,  younger consumers are willing to spend more on luxury and high-end expressions of single malt whisky, opting for a "buy less, but buy better" approach. "They seek to reward themselves or indulge in luxury experiences which single malt is able to offer," she points out.

The modern consumers of luxury are discerning and according to Clarisse, they tend to do a lot of research on the products and brands they consume looking for social currency to signal their knowledge, values, and sophistication. "Single Malt brands meet their needs, having genuine origin, heritage, authenticity and craftsmanship," she affirms. 

She views that partnership will also be a key factor in shaping the future of the travel retail spirits sector. "It is vital that we as brands are able to work closely and collaboratively with retailers and operators to both provide the right product selection and do it in the right way, with exciting and bespoke experiences which speak to the demands of shoppers," Clarisse elaborates.

W&M and Consumers

W&M, a single malt specialist, continues to experience significant and category leading growth globally. They have doubled their business in global travel retail since 2019.

"W&M has experienced significant and category leading growth over the last 10 years, being the only single malt business globally to see consecutive years of growth since 2014. But none of that is possible without our consumers looking for high quality and great tasting liquids," she affirms. The whisky portfolio of W&M includes a range of travel retail exclusive single malts from The Dalmore, Jura, Tamnavulin and Fettercairn.

She shares that their target consumers want to explore and discover, and want to be inspired by great brand stories. "In recent years, we at W&M have seen this first-hand with the success of our Jura Islanders' Expressions line, which taps perfectly into the modern travelling shopper's demand for both newness and brands with a strong story and purpose," she elaborates.

Their collections come with engaging product stories brought to life through shared passion points like music or art and W&M practices the travel retail channel for its strength. 

"We have managed to be relevant to these HWN DF shoppers and have been able to trade them up by creating exceptional displays and experiences in the travel retail channel. The challenge is to deliver our elevated experience in a context where space is often too limited or amongst value offering," she elaborates. They want to attract and impress HNW consumers and shoppers with best in class displays and activations where the HNW travellers will become a returning shopper for their customers.

Exploring Travel Retail

Dalmore Luminaries

These days shoppers also want brands whose stories resonate with them, and which have a purpose. "This is at the heart of the appeal of Jura, with its travel retail exclusive limited edition Jura Islanders Expression No.3, which was inspired by the creativity of the artistic community on the island of Jura and was crafted in collaboration with the island's resident photographer Konrad Borkowski. The Islanders' Expression series is also a travel retail exclusive which speaks to shoppers' desire for true, special exclusivity in the market," explains Clarisse.

This desire for exclusives is also met in W&M's Tamnavulin range, with the recently-released Tamnavulin Sauvignon Blanc. This release completes the Tamnavulin Travel Retail Exclusive Collection, which now comprises a red wine, a sherry and a white wine finish. 

She believes the key element in the whisky and single malt sectors today is to provide something which meets the need of every shopper and provide something which inspires and drives both engagement and spend.
"In our experience, shoppers are looking to discover in this market, and our portfolio of brands is tailored to provide something for every need. But the travelling shopper also requires exclusivity and excitement, they want to discover something truly new, which enhances their sense of travel," elaborates Clarisse. One such effective platform to achieve such consumer experiences is the travel retail channels.

She further states that based on what the modern luxury consumer is looking for, W&M's mission is about enriching travellers' lives in duty-free stores.

Malt whisky is perceived as a luxury item but can be tricky to buy. "What we learnt from talking to malt consumers and shoppers is that they come to the malt fixture seeking inspiration and exploration, with the biggest motivation for Indian HNW shoppers being to look for a new item and an exclusive product, but are often faced with a wall of cartons & boxes that does nothing to aid navigation," explains Clarisse while talking about the preferences of single malt consumers.


As for challenges posed by regulatory hurdles and complex requirements for flyers, which is impeding their growth of the alcoholic beverage category, Clarisse laments, "How can we offer the breath of exceptional collections exclusively in the single malt category when spend in arrival is capped at $500?"

At the Dalmore, their expertise lies in the prestige segment and the company has seen more and more Indian consumers purchasing rare collections like the recently released The Dalmore - The Cask Curation Sherry Edition in other airports around the world. She believes it is a missed opportunity for Indian duty-free.

Outbound, Inbound and Future

While contrasting the purchasing behaviour of outbound and inbound flyers she adds that "The departure stores give us access to an upscale, captive and well-connected audience with a mindset to explore, discover and engage with brand and more importantly a mindset to trade up & propensity to buy high-end."

On arrival, the shopper missions will vary and speed of transaction carries importance. 'Talking to retailers in India DF, the rise of reserve and collect in arrival is phenomenal for instance," she informs. 

Regarding future growth prospects of travel retail in India, particularly for alcoholic beverages, Clarisse states that according to IWSR 2022, India Duty Free is the No1 single malt market in value in Global Travel Retail. With more Indian consumers expected to travel in future and, with their fondness towards single malt, Whyte & Mackay sees Indian consumers and the single malt category as growth engines for travel retail. 

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