Background and Challenge

Beijing Capital International Airport Co. (BCIA) had a new terminal scheduled to open early in 2008 ahead of the Beijing Summer Olympics. This change would make it one of the biggest terminals in the world, serving as a key portal during the Olympic Games. However, Chinese airports had been criticized for years for their high-price image, undiversified retail offerings, and lack of marketing/promotional activities. BCIA planned to take advantage of the new terminal and Beijing Olympics with a new marketing communication campaign that would stimulate airport retail sales and promote its airport retail competitiveness.

Approach and Recommendations

The L.E.K. team developed a top-level marketing communication plan and a detailed promotional campaign focused on ways to stimulate retail airport revenues with the opening of the new terminal. In order to do so, we performed several different tasks:

  • Design of three key promotional campaigns including Chinese New Year promotion, Terminal 3 launch promotion and Beijing Olympic promotion
  • Development of both concepts and detailed execution steps (we created a promotion execution tool for possible changes by BCIA)
  • Benchmarking review of Singapore Changi Airport and Sydney Airport for their retail practices
  • Internal diagnosis through interviews and surveys with various stakeholders including management teams, airlines, airport retailers and passengers
  • Development of a marketing communication plan based on case studies and stakeholder analysis
  • Provided recommendations on website improvement, terminal walkthrough observation, and shopping brand strategy

We successfully introduced elements of promotional campaigns and played a key role in encouraging BCIA's retail spend. The plan – covering public relations (PR), promotions and advertising activities – worked as the roadmap to effectively guide BCIA and third-party PR and advertising agencies to develop and execute various marketing communications for six-months preceding the Summer Olympics. Our team recommended that they also continue to create a favorable airport shopping image through constant marketing, PR, advertising activities and regular promotional campaigns. New concepts and execution details were provided as guidelines.


As a typical state-owned enterprise (SOE), BCIA had limited knowledge regarding promotion, marketing and communication. Now, they have a clear understanding of how to increase retail revenues through promotions and marketing efforts. Most importantly, they received a detailed marketing plan and framework to take them from concept to execution. The first promotional activities were held in the two existing terminals during the 2008 Chinese New Year with great success.

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