Do You Get a Bad Case of ‘Treat Yourself Brain’ at the Airport? There’s a Reason

Airport shopping

You know when you’re through airline check-in and airport security, and waiting for your flight near the gate? You still have some time to kill, and so you decide to shop. The result? You usually end up buying something you never normally would if you weren’t just about to board.

Turns out, there’s a reason for that, and it’s all to do with something called ‘dwelling time’. TikTok user Chirag Tells Marketing Stories explained in it a recent video, saying that modern airports were all designed to capitalise on this sweet spot of time.

“It’s about 60 minutes, and this is usually called ‘happy hour’ by a lot of the managers,” Chirag says in the clip. “It’s because this is the time when you’ve completed your check-in and you’re waiting for your flight.”

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He went on to explain that while we’re going through security, we’re stressed. When we get through it and are waiting for our flight, we calm down.

Sydney Airport Burberry
Image: Sydney Airport

“We’re sitting there and we’re like, well, we’re kind of captive here,” he says. “What do I do? I just went through this harrowing experience. Let me reward myself by buying something for myself. And the more likely are you to spend money. In fact, the more relaxed you are, the more you spend.”

Knowing this, airport designers purposefully created terminals that are more conducive to shopping. Chirag gives the example of carpeting being put in certain places, and adding signs that assure you that you’re on time and won’t miss your flight or that you’re only five minutes from your gate.

The idea with all of it is to make you feel more comfortable, so that you want to buy something — either at the airport or by seeing an ad for a brand there and then buying something from it online.

“The rest of the world of marketing and advertising — the annoying thing is that a lot of consumers have started to just ignore ads,” he says. “You see a billboard sign or you see a pop-up ad, and you ignore it. But in an airport, you can’t afford to be negligent. You have to be constantly aware.”

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This hyper-vigilance results in you noticing colourful, loud things — which, in airports, usually tend to be ads. Chirag continues, saying that a study found that 80% of frequent flyers admitted to paying attention, while another found that after seeing an ad at an airport, around 90% said they would go onto the brand’s website to learn more and to potentially buy something.

Moncler Sydney Airport
Image: Sydney Airport

“Which means that advertising business in the airports is huge,” Chirag concludes. It’s worth noting that he doesn’t elaborate on what exactly we’re buying during dwelling time at the airport — whether they’re impulse purchases or things we actually need.

A study by the marketing group of the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM C), published in The Hindu Business Line in 2018, found that the primary motivation to shop at the airport included, “availability of exclusive products”, “duty-free imported products”, and “credible brands”. It also revealed that customers look for variety and exclusive offers.

The study found that 80% of travellers surveyed didn’t plan their purchases in advance. However, if they had planned what they wanted to buy, unsurprisingly, they were more likely to make the purchase (70%) than those who hadn’t.

Watch Chirag’s full clip below.

@entrekeyThings you learn while trapped at an airport due to delays! lol♬ original sound – Chirag Tells Marketing Stories

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