Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
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- Discovering the lure of luxury at Hong Kong Airport and with Le Clos at DXB - November 25, 2022
- Nearing the end of my year of the RAT - November 21, 2022
For someone who does the job I do and who spends as much time onboard British Airways as I do, I spend an unacceptably low amount of time reading ‘Highlife Shop’ – the airline’s inflight shopping brochure produced by concessionaire Tourvest.
Thus, on the way back from Oslo, where I had attended the opening of Travel Retail Norway’s new Arrivals store (trading as Heinemann Duty Free), I decided to take a detailed look at the publication.
It’s very good, the reproduction ultra-sharp, and the product range impressively diverse. It offers a claimed 220+ “ideas, gifts & treats” and plenty of exclusives, the latter including Eve Lom, Perricone MD, Jimmy Choo fragrance and Links of London items.
Too often one inflight retail magazine blurs into another – there is often a sameness about the offer – but Tourvest has done a top job here in introducing quirky items and airline exclusives as well as placing appropriate emphasis on trends and in-demand items such as wellbeing and gadgets (though come to think of it, where’s the Fun Plane? I was always amazed how many BA used to sell). It also offers a ‘Buy before you fly’ online service which allows travellers to order from home up to 12 weeks before they fly and have the item/s delivered to their plane seat when they depart. There’s also a home-delivery service. In the age of Alibaba and Amazon such things matter if inflight retail is to flourish.
I don’t know what the duty free sales penetration rate is onboard British Airways but given that the magazine features some 45 pages (excluding full-page advertisements) of beauty products it must be higher than I suspected. That is some range There are also six pages of wellbeing items, clearly a fast-growing category for many airlines.
So how to turn a browser into a buyer? Could Tourvest do it? My eye was drawn to a product called Fountain, described as ‘The Hyaluronic Molecule’. Now, my business is words but I confess to never having heard of hyaluronic and being pretty sceptical that such a term even existed before this product was launched. Wrong. Trusty Wikipedia to the rescue: “Hyaluronic acid, also called hyaluronan, is an anionic, nonsulfated glycosaminoglycan distributed widely throughout connective, epithelial, and neural tissues.” There, you’re much the wiser now, aren’t you?
What was more interesting was the claim that someone (hopefully not the same person) in the UK buys this beauty supplement every eleven seconds. A nice marketing line, which, if my maths is right, means the company sold something like 7,855 bottles the day of my flight. Make that 7,866 because I bought one too.
Why? Because I was informed that Fountain makes one’s skin look “smooth, plump and hydrated”. All you have to do is take two teaspoons a day, either straight or mixed with a drink. And while I find it has added a certain residual sweetness to my Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, I am expecting a barrage of compliments at next week’s Trinity Forum in Mumbai about how smooth, plump (well, maybe less of the plump) and hydrated I look. A miracle for just £23 – now that’s what I call travel value. My ultra-friendly cabin attendant Paul Davey told me it was the first one he’d sold (it is newly listed) so I was glad to help a new product on its way.
I wasn’t finished there. On the same double page spread I saw a product called Grow Gorgeous, “a brilliant new serum to help you get the hair of your dreams”. Alas, my hair is, or was, the stuff of nightmares, suffering and deep angst, having departed around the same time as Queen Victoria (as the old joke goes, “I got given a comb once. I’ll never part with it.”).
Could Gorgeous George, sorry, Grow Gorgeous, from The Abnormal Beauty Company restore what the power of prayer had never been able to do? But at £37 and noting that success would cause too much of a shock for Trinity delegates anyway, I reluctantly decided against the purchase.
Instead, from the same company, I opted for NIOD Photography Fluid. Now this is what I call a product of our times. I quote from the marketing-speak: “Are you ready for your close-up? This novel product will make your skin look radiant in selfies and photos. Mixed in to your moisturiser [not your Sauvignon Blanc -Ed] or foundation, this instant-treatment Photography Fluid is serum-textured and contains a wide array of light-refracting prisms, tone and hue correction, and topical photo-finishing technologies to make you camera-ready in seconds.”
So there you have it; for just £17, and a little hue-correction and topical photo-finishing later, I will indeed be ready for my close-up when the photographers are snapping away at The Trinity Forum next week.
Here’s what The Daily Mail [this, I hasten to add, is the only thing I have ever read or ever will read in The Daily Mail] said about NIOD: “Forget about Instagram filters and Photoshop. All you need is this little pot of liquid gold to look really gorgeous.”
That was enough to convince me. Perhaps it’s post-middle age crisis but I bought a bottle (come on, give me a break, it’s harmless – after all, many men my age go and buy a Porsche, take a mistress and start wearing Speedos). I may not be able to grow gorgeous but I might yet be able to look it.