The findings underscore the importance of promoting the savings offered by duty free and travel retail, according to the Tax Free World Association (TFWA), which commissioned the study.
Yet getting the message across, it says, remains one of the main issues to consider in the quest to increase footfall, conversion and spend.
For the report confirms that although price is the prime reason that 27% of tobacco buyers make a purchase, over half of those visiting tobacco retail stores felt that the product was more expensive in airports.
Price checking is, however, at a comparatively low level (26%) suggesting that consumers are relatively confident that airport shopping offers value. Clearly reinforcing the price parameter should be a priority.
Tthere is nevertheless plenty of scope to encourage purchase in addition to focusing on price, says the TFWA, as a significant 87% of purchasers choose their regular product, highlighting the importance of prominently displaying key brands.
The Tobacco report, which is part of the TFWA Category Reports series produced by Counter Intelligence Retail and made available to TFWA members, notes that there is considerable interest in travel retail exclusives (which were the equal top promotional idea cited by 46% of tobacco shoppers interviewed).
Yet visibility is lower in this category than any other (at 7%), while awareness is also lower (at 19%) than across the travel retail sector in general (23%).
This would suggest that there is advantage to be had in developing exclusive offers and ensuring they are well signposted, says TFWA.
In a category where promotional opportunities are limited, gift with purchase is a powerful mechanic to attract attention.
GWP has strong appeal among tobacco shoppers, and just under half (46%) are interested in it, making it equal first choice, and this form of promotion is particularly popular with Asian and American travellers.
Tobacco shoppers are more likely to shop multiple categories than any other category shopper, with almost half (47%) visiting at least one other category, according to the report.
Similarly, fewer tobacco buyers purchase exclusively from the category (73% compared with 86% for all buyers), highlighting the importance of the availability of tobacco in travel retail as a driver of spend in other categories.
“This report confirms that what have almost become a number of clichés surrounding the tobacco category remain true,” says TFWA president Erik Juul-Mortensen.
“It does mean that consumer behaviour in tobacco purchase is well understood and that the category is indeed a driver of footfall and a trigger for shoppers to explore other parts of the duty free and travel retail offer.
"The options for retailers to boost sales and profits are therefore easy to define and there is much to be gained from intelligent marketing of the tobacco category.”
The TFWA Tobacco Category Report is based on approximately 1,000 shopper interviews conducted at four key airports across the globe. A minimum of 50% of the sample were duty free buyers.
The full report is available as an exclusive benefit to TFWA members at www.tfwa.com.