Switzerland at a glance

Switzerland's travel propensity is among the highest worldwide, with 85.5% of Swiss people going on at least one holiday per year. In 2010, Swiss people made 16.6-million trips with overnight stays, 10-million of these being international trips. Switzerland has become an important European outbound market and is now ranking 6th after the traditional big markets of the UK, Germany, Netherlands, France and Italy.

Holidays and relaxation were the most important motives for trips with overnight stays (66%). Other motives are visiting relatives and friends (19%) and business (6%). About one-third of the travellers favour booking a package holiday. Fifty-three percent of travel booked is done via the Internet, making it the most important booking place. Only 22% book with travel agencies. In 2011, 40 728 Swiss travelled to South Africa, an increase of 2.5% over 2010, making it the 12th biggest overseas arrival for South Africa.

Sustainability is very popular with Swiss consumers. The awareness of ethical and sustainable consumption is widespread in Switzerland. The share of sustainable products sold per capita is the highest in the world. The major Swiss retailers Coop and Migros in particular offer a large variety of Fair Trade products and products with a sustainability label in their product lines. In 2011 the total combined sales of these products exceeded €3-billion. Switzerland also ranks number one in per capita consumption of Fairtrade-labelled products, and total sales reached €300-million in 2012 (an increase of 14% over 2011).

The typical characteristics of Fair Trade consumers are:

  • 25-65 years old

  • More likely to live in cities

  • Often brand users

  • High level of understanding of products and trade

  • Social and economic “middle/upper class”

  • Quality comes before price and prestige

  • Ready to recommend Fair Trade products

  • Reward companies for their sustainable production

In Switzerland, sustainability is among the top three influencing factors for 17.4% of travellers, and 16% have already booked a sustainable travel option. In addition, over 25 000 people visit the sustainable travel portal fairunterwegs each month.

This, in combination with the high consumption of Fair Trade and sustainable products, makes Switzerland a prime target for promoting Fair Trade Tourism. Swiss travellers consider preservation of biodiversity, waste management, resource efficiency, use of renewable energy, use of local products and local employment to be the most important aspects of sustainable tourism.

The Responsible Travellers

The Aware Consumer

This segment is fully aware of the implications of their consumption, and have fully integrated responsible purchasing into their lifestyle. They believe in actively participating in creating a better world. They understand the impact their consumption can have, want to make a positive difference and consistently buy Fair Trade, organic and local products. They are concerned about how long-haul travel impacts on the environment, but will consider this in the broader context of the impact of the holiday.

Open and keen to meet new cultures and see positive impacts of their travel. Availability of quality sustainable products is a barrier rather than price. Book their holiday via specialist travel agents and online, and are influenced by intellectual journals, daily newspapers, experts and peers.

To reach this segment, emphasise the positive impact of the product and back up all sustainability claims with facts.

The Experienced Consumer

Sensitive to sustainable consumption and opts for sustainable products when they are offered. Further to a commitment to the environment, health and comfort are also important considerations. However, product must be easily accessible and available. A slightly higher price will be tolerated but if sustainable products are not available, they will buy other products and not feel bad about it.

Travel is important to them and they will make sustainable choices if available, but will not be restricted if options are not available. Buy their holiday via travel agents or the Internet, and are influenced by mainstream newspapers and peers.

To reach this segment, provide information that demonstrates the connections between their consumption and sustainability supplemented by rational arguments and data.

The Inexperienced Consumer

This group is sensitive to the question of sustainable consumption, but their purchasing decisions are not based on environmental concerns or social criteria. Sustainable offers must be more attractive to be preferred over other products. They are often motivated by a bad conscience but behave sustainably provided it is not much effort or cost.

High prices are a barrier as this group is price-sensitive. They are careful travellers, but don't take notice of labels and have not explicitly booked a sustainable holiday. Buy their holidays via the Internet or travel agents, and are influenced by mainstream newspapers, peers and celebrity spokespeople.

To reach this segment, the emotional level of communication is key. This segment can be activated with attractive pictures and impressive stories or special offers.