Curated solutions: Creating product assortments for travelers

May 27, 2019By Assortment Planning and Placement, Future of Retail, Views

By Dave Wendland, vice president strategic relations, as seen in Drug Store News

If your family is anything like mine, you often used to pile the entire family into the automobile for long road trips. With four siblings in my family, our attention spans were not great, and one way we passed the time was to play a game called I Took a Trip. The game entailed one family member starting the sentence, “I took a trip and I took a…” and then filling in the blank with some random item. So the game would go like this: “I took a trip and I took a fuzzy blanket.” The next in line would then say, “I took a trip and I took a fuzzy blanket and some suntan lotion.” Thus, as each family member’s turn came about they were expected to not only remember the prior items but imaginatively contribute another. The game would continue until a family member simply couldn’t remember the items or erred on the sequence.

In essence, our family was curating a packing list for an imaginary journey. Although many of our contributions were silly in nature  (including such suggestions as alligators, chopsticks, or dirty laundry), I strongly believe that the underpinning of this simple game is what retailers — and supplier partners — should consider today to help present shoppers with a well-assembled group of essentials to meet a specific need.

So, using the idea of a trip as the focus, I’m going to spend a few minutes imagining what may be included within a curated solution set to meet this specific circumstance. Then, I’ll offer a few suggestions for how to activate this at retail and deliver shoppers a unique, purposeful “basket.”

When thinking about the types of trips that consumers may be taking, consideration must be given to the location, the weather, the method of travel, destination activities, etc. These are among the key factors that should be part of a retailer’s thought process as they curate a solution for travelers.

Generally speaking, there are at least five broad categories of items that may be ideal in planning for a trip: hygiene/personal care, personal safety, stationery, health care and accessories. Within each category, a number of potential items could be considered — I’ve included a few suggestions herein. Depending on the mode of travel, consideration must be given to how these items will be transported — for example, airlines follow the 3-1-1 rule.

Hygiene/Personal Care
Toothpaste, deodorant, shaving supplies, hair essentials, face cleanser and lotion, along with an array of other items

Personal Safety
Purifying water bottle, flashlight, money belt, RFID-blocking credit card holder, RFID- blocking travel necklace wallet, anti-theft straps and bags, and emergency contact list keeper

Writing instruments, journals, and passport cover or protector

Motion sickness medication, pain relief (internal and external), throat lozenges, sun protection, lip treatments, digestive health aids, and bandages (and other first aid items)

Sunglasses, eyeglass cleaners, electronic chargers and connectors, memory cards, batteries, and pill containers

In a brick-and-mortar setting, an endcap or travel destination section could be created to assist shoppers. For those retailers with a pharmacy, additional consideration should be given to linking to their inoculation practices or paid consultations with a pharmacist before travel. Additionally, retailers may want to create lists of recommended items based either on mode of transportation or destination. Online retailers can certainly support product checklists and create special “solution centers” for visitors to quickly navigate.

I’ve also recommended to retailers that they work with local high schools or college study abroad advisors and, not dissimilar to “back-to-school” product assortments and displays, collaborate on what items to stock to support students. Retailers could also align with local travel agencies, cruise lines, and/or campgrounds to prepare pre-determined travel solutions.

According to the World Trade & Tourism Council, travel is growing across the globe ranging from 3% to as much as 12% annually. As the rate of travel continues to climb, becoming relevant and intentional will help retailers and brands generate new revenue.