Raising the bar

New Duty Free design gives individual showcases for brands

Global drinks group Diageo has taken a big step forward in the duty-free drinks market with a concept that pulls its premium brands out of the DF supermarket environment and gives them their own space.

Emporium at Dubai International’ Airport’s Terminal 3 has been designed by Portland into a 150 sq m space that’s a showcase for such labels as Dom Perignon, Veuve Cliquot, Moet & Chandon and the top-of-the-range offerings from the likes of Tanqueray and Johnnie Walker.

The aim was to get people to interact with the brands in a more meaningful way than is possible when they have just a few metres in a duty-free store along with all the other competing brands. The store is also aimed at the 80 per cent of travellers who don’t buy any duty free.

Portland’s creative head of environments, Michael Fern, says the new store is a ‘step change in the quality of shopper experience in travel retail,’ adding that it gives people a chance to interact with the brands on different levels, from browsing in a brand-controlled environment to tasting the products on offer.

‘It needed to be visually arresting, with a consistent tone of voice and brand communication, rather than the supplier brand-led look and feel of a traditional airport liquor store,’ says Fern. ‘ Visual display was crucial to this; within the front of the store rare and premium bottles are displayed on beautifully engineered tables to elevate their status to objects of beauty, while the perimeter acts as the stock-holding capacity.

‘A central faceted gold bar creates a strong focal point. The bar acts as a door opener for the customer, helping make a connection between the product and end-use.’

Hugo Mills, Gulf Diageo general manager, adds: ‘We were not interested in creating simply another duty free store. The travel retail industry, and the liquor category in particular, needs to deliver a contemporary vision of retail transformation – an extraordinary experience that stops the shopper in their tracks and makes them think : “Wow, I didn’t expect this!”’

This article was first published in fx Magazine.

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