Ask Alison: Is it time for indie beauty brands to get in on duty free shopping?

Niche beauty Duty Free airport beauty Dezeen

Earlier this week, independent beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury made its airport retail debut at World Duty Free in London Heathrow. The week before, the eponymous brand was one of four indie beauty companies (alongside Anastasia, Hourglass and POLA) to be showcased within the DFS downtown store T-Galleria at Galaxy, Macau.

It’s about time these types of self-made or direct-to-consumer beauty upstarts joined the action within the travel retail space. Whether airport or downtown (in Asia), it’s the exposure to millions of travelling consumers (mostly Chinese) that counts here. The lure of duty free prices drives significant traffic but the brand mix needs disruption. For too long the likes of World Duty Free have been dominated by big brand houses such as Estée Lauder or L’Oréal, serving up passengers the latest skincare or cosmetics products driven by big ad campaigns. A handful of smaller K-beauty brands make it through at the best known airport stores such as The Shilla in Singapore or Hong Kong.

Even one of the biggest duty free retailers, Lotte in Korea, has started to do online live-cast shows via Chinese influencers (aka ‘wanghongs‘) to promote smaller cult K-beauty brands. Duty free prices for brands such as Clio, Wella Ju, and Laneez are reason enough for Chinese consumers to travel to Seoul, especially if they are being promoted by top influencers online.

It feels like the time is now for the indie cohort to liven up the duty free beauty space. Certainly in the UK. We’re waiting for you Glossier, Beauty Pie and Milk!

This post is contributed by DRG retail editor, ALISON FARRINGTON. Read her previous posts on Disneyrollergirl and follow her on Instagram.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Alison Farrington
IMAGE: Glossier/Dezeen
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