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How beauty retail can cash in on the travel boom

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Revenge travel is in full swing and helping global tourism to bounce back, with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicting that recovery will reach 65% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022.

So says Toni Carroll, founder of luxury nutricosmetic brand, My Beauty Luv: “The revenge travel trend is expected to continue well into 2023 and beyond, especially here in South Africa where we can offer the world an affordable escape. Now is the time for the local beauty industry to become tourist-ready.”

She notes that in South Africa the number of tourists arriving from overseas is increasing by 335,5% year-on-year and those from Africa by 129,9%. Domestic tourism is also on the up and at levels higher than those prior to the pandemic.

“While this is obviously a boon for the country’s tourism industry, the beauty sector is benefitting too,” comments Carroll. “More tourists mean more shoppers. Currently, the beauty segment of the travel retail market is valued at $23 billion but this is set to increase to $33,5 billion by 2029. Given that revenge spending is also accelerating, it’s easy to see why travel beauty retail is growing so rapidly. Already, international and domestic tourists in South Africa are splurging more during their trips than they did in 2021, with their expenditure increasing by 131.5% and 28,6% respectively, and these figures are set to swell over the upcoming festive season.”

Below, Carroll shares how South African beauty businesses can take advantage of the travel boom and where tourists can find ‘lekker’ local products:

  • A flying start: Always teeming with crowds, airports provide brands with a captive audience, making it no surprise that they enjoy the largest share of the global travel beauty retail market. With 92,5% of tourists from overseas arriving in SA via air transport, getting your goods into these shops is a must.

  • The call of duty free: According to a report by Data Bridge, South Africa dominates the Middle East and Africa region due to the various duty-free stores the country offers not only in our airports but also close to popular tourist attractions. With places like the V&A Waterfront receiving 2.5 million visitors during the summer months due to domestic and international tourists descending on the Mother City, it might be profitable to stock duty-free shops.

  • Get to the guest: As tourists are increasingly opting to stay at hotels, guesthouses and guest-farms, this could be another avenue to pursue. A number of accommodation providers offer an on-site boutique where guests can indulge in some retail therapy. Some also have spas where holidaymakers can experience your products first-hand. Ultimately, partnerships with luxury hospitality brands can help to elevate your company in the eye of the consumer.

  • Skin wins: Out of the five categories that comprise the global travel beauty retail market - skincare, haircare, fragrances, makeup, and others - skincare is coming out tops in 2022. Data Bridge attributes this to increased awareness about skin health among consumers which is boosting demand globally. If you don’t already offer products in this space, perhaps now is the time to do so.

  • Conscientious consumption: Since the pandemic, travel retail and duty-free shoppers have become more discerning about what they buy, with research revealing that 35% of international travellers now purchase more sustainable or environmentally friendly products than they did pre-COVID-19. What’s more, 86% say that greater focus on sustainability by manufacturers positively impacts their perception of the brand and 66% are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products. With this in mind, local businesses should be looking at ways they can make their products and packaging more eco-friendly.

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