Will in-flight cosmetic sales make a comeback?

By Louise Prance

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetic manufacturers European commission

A new European Commission regulation that intends to reduce airport
traffic could threaten sales of premium cosmetics and fragrances in
airport lounges - but could make way for an upsurge of mass-market
products and more in-flight options.

In response to an unprecedented rise in air travel in the EU over the past ten years, the European Commission action plan aims to increase airport efficiency and reduce delays both in the sky and in airport lounges.

Senior analyst for market research company, Euromonitor, Diana Dodson told CosmeticsDesign​ "Reducing airport delays definitely would have an impact on cosmetic and fragrance sales. Premium cosmetics would suffer, but so too would airport spas, which have increasingly been springing up, particularly in hub airports."

"I think we'll see greater efforts to put duty free on flights, perhaps more in-flight sampling through free gifts to travellers and a greater duty-free presence on the arrivals side of terminals"​ she said.

Due to a 60 per cent increase in the number of airlines over the past ten years, and 8.5 per cent more passengers travelling in the EU in 2005 compared to 2004, the EC has called for action that will reduce passenger safety threats caused by the increased numbers of people.

However, for premium cosmetic manufacturers the intended action plan could pose a threat to vital income generated by the airport traveller who passes delayed travel periods shopping for premium cosmetics and fragrances.

However, if the proposed action plan is to successfully reduce the number of people waiting in airport lounges, it may have a direct impact on these sales figures and cosmetic manufacturers will be encouraged to consider alternative routes for generating income.

Dodson went on to say, "Airport stores will have to do more to encourage passengers to arrive early to give themselves more time for shopping. The focus will go on service and creating an enjoyable shopping experience, but also discounting will become more of a feature in duty free"

"At the same time, we're seeing airports increasingly working to attract locals living nearby. Together these two trends could see airports stocking more mass and necessity cosmetics and toiletries rather than their current focus on prestige, luxury brands"​ she said.

Air transport has always been a lucrative business for the premium cosmetic and fragrance industry in the EU. And with the number of intra-EU routes increasing by 150 per cent between 1992 and 2005, these sales have hit unprecedented highs.

Estee Lauder estimates that approximately 7 per cent of its annual $6bn in sales revenue is derived from airport retail outlets, therefore placing significant economic importance on the airport passenger.

However, the EU has stated that an action plan of this size will take 5 to 10 years or more to provide new infrastructure - giving cosmetic manufacturers time to understand the new objectives and devise plans to work around the expected decrease in passengers.

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