When we think of meaningful media in travel, we often think travel blogs or Instagram posts. But each journey is bookended by the airport which, to some, is a glamorous start to the journey, and to others, a place of frustration, boredom, and droopy sandwiches. Either way, travel media has a pivotal role to play in our relationship with confectionary.
In many cultures, when returning from a trip, it is customary for the traveler to bring back sweets for family, friends, and colleagues. Obviously, we cannot bring back things we already have in our home country. It really must be different! And knowing how last-minute many of us are, we leave all this shopping until we are actually about to fly. Hello, airport duty-free!
For me, airport duty-free has been meaningful in several ways: it’s a lifesaver for last-minute shopping and the place to find fun travel limited editions. And take photos with adorable big M&Ms wearing kaffiyehs at Dubai International Airport. Or go crazy for a giant 4.5kg Toblerone and become a lifelong fan of Toblerone. Many brands limit themselves to just packaging, but other brands have turned localization into a cult phenomenon; take KitKat Japan’s famous 300+ limited-edition flavors that could range from sakura to sake.
Beyond duty-free, some careful–or lucky–product placement can make the most mass confectionary aspirational. In frequent flyer circles, the Lufthansa First Class Lounge at Frankfurt airport is on many travelers’ bucket lists (still unchecked on mine). Alongside other fancy services is the Haribo gummy bear bar where the bears are sorted by flavor. Honestly, until I heard about this, I did not know I needed this in my life. Now, eating your least favorite gummy bear flavor seems just so plebeian. Travel media is a way to communicate to consumers that even global brands have a local personality, and since travel is all about discovery, why not give consumers a reason to rediscover something they think they already know? For this, airport media, whether in-store, billboards or digital displays, would be perfect for the job of changing perceptions. Never would I look at a humble gummy bear in the same way again.