The Moodie Davitt Report talked with Zimpex Marketing International President Michael Chang about the tobacco company’s ambitions in the Americas region and its participation at the Summit of the Americas — A Virtual Experience.

“Our focus is to support the travel retail industry,” says Zimpex Marketing International President Michael Chang as he prepares for the tobacco distribution company’s inaugural showing at the Summit of the Americas.

“Our goal is also to highlight the uniqueness and power of Asian tobacco brands, in the hopes that we as an industry can bounce back as quickly as possible.”

Zimpex Marketing International is a distributor, exporter and manufacturer of Asian tobacco brands. Brands in its portfolio include Li Qun cigarettes, Pride, Guiyan Cigarettes, Modern and R.G.D  — each will be highlighted at the all-digital event.

Zimpex Marketing International also offers heat-not-burn vape brands, MOK and Kung Fu, which Chang believes will address the growing consumer trend for alternative tobacco products. “We have some excellent cigarette alternatives in our portfolio,” he says.

“We believe that the demand for cigarette products will be complemented by the increasing demand for tobacco alternatives and new smoke-free technology products, particularly in the Americas region where vaping is very popular.”

Filipino tobacco company MOK offers a variety of heat-not-burn products, providing customers with a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes

Zimpex Marketing International has a powerful portfolio of Asian tobacco and heat-not-burn brands

Chang is optimistic that vaccination programmes will help the comeback of international travel and that the Americas region will once again see the return of Asian travellers, which represent Zimpex Marketing International’s core consumers.

He says, “We are focusing on big international aviation hubs in the Americas, as our portfolio of tobacco products has strong resonance with Asian travellers. We are hoping that as vaccination roll-outs progress, the positive outlook for travel to the USA and other Americas destinations will follow.”

In addition to vaccines, Chang believes that enhancing safety and hygiene throughout the customer journey will be key to boosting traveller confidence. He says, “I think that the industry has done a lot to enhance safety and hygiene. Saying that, I believe that travellers will have their safety concerns addressed by the time they purchase their flight itineraries.

“It will be a continuing challenge for the travel and aviation industry to get those customers through the airport. A streamlining process which highlights best-selling and sought-after products will be beneficial to driving sales.”

Collaboration is key to driving industry recovery through and after the COVID-19 crisis, Chang says

Tobacco is a habitual travel retail purchase and will play a key role in driving channel recovery

According to Chang, tobacco products will play a key role in driving channel recovery.

He says, Tobacco has always been a staple of the travel retail industry and for many customers tobacco is a habitual and regularly sought out purchase. In order to have a more complete offer, tobacco has and always will be a part of the duty free experience.”

Speaking of recovery, Chang underscores the importance of industry collaboration and how travel retail can come together to ensure that the industry can thrive long after COVID-19.

“We would like to see more collaboration of all stakeholders working together to boost recovery and strengthen the industry as a whole even long after the COVID-19 crisis,” he says. “Every stakeholder has its own part to play and we need to rely on each other to prosper and grow.

“The COVID-19 crisis has obviously battered the industry and we are hopeful for a partial recovery this year. We have tempered our expectations for 2021 but still see a future for our company in travel retail.”

Zimpex Marketing International is a first-time exhibitor at the Summit of the Americas. Its goal, according to Chang, is to “support the travel retail industry”.