Erik Juul-Mortensen made the opening address at the yearly Cannes event, a speech in which he outlined the new profile of travel retail customers, the evolving global economy and the changing world of technology.
He said Asia-Pacific had swollen 25.5% and now represented 34.8% of sales while Europe has a share of 33.9%.
Brazil, Russia and China were noted by the TFWA president as the countries driving travel retail sales of $50bn (2015 estimate) and the forecasted $120bn by 2020.
Juul-Mortensen said: “Europe and North America seem likely to take years to recover. We must embrace, as a matter of urgency, how we serve customers. We have to adjust quickly to the new consumer.
“The Chinese have such an appreciation for travel retail. It is a very important customer base.”
By sector, wine and spirits, a 16.6% share of global travel retail, expanded by 17.9% to $7.6bn.
Juul-Mortensen spoke of the importance of integrating new technologies into the travel retail environment, to meet the demands of the new customer. “We need to be part of the the growing trend not standing on the sidelines,” he said.
He highlighted the success of innovative, augmented reality-driven promotional activity and talked of the increasing relevance of smart phones and the internet more generally in travel retail.
Retailing could also be made “more informed and effective” with the use of smart phones for stock management and video technologies to identify footfall, Juul-Mortensen said.