Can retailers find riches at sea?
Smack dab at the heart of the experiential trend, it appears to be “anchors aweigh” for cruise retailing.
“While land-based retail is suffering from internet competition, cruise retail is thriving,” said Beth Neumann, president and CEO, Starboard Cruise Services in a press release outlining a number of upgrades for 2018.
Starboard, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, is the leading on-board duty free and travel retail operator. By 2020, Starboard expects to operate over 360,000 square feet of cruise ship retail space, with more than 750 brands across more than 90 ships.
LVMH also owns DFS, the operator of duty-free concession airport shops, and Starboard seems to work similarly.
Starboard claims to be the first to bring Bulgari, Cartier, Tiffany, Dior, Omega, Ferragamo, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Kiehl’s and Shiseido to the retail cruise experience. Popular-priced brands, such as Nike, Victoria’s Secret, Swarovski, Benefit, Chico’s, Vineyard Vines and Guess, are also part of Starboard’s offerings.
In sync with the ships’ entertainment options, many of Starboard’s shops offer interactive experiences: fashion trunk shows presented by designers; seminars with beauty experts; make-your-own workshops for jewelry, handbags and flip flops; and in-shop social events. Ms. Neumann said Starboard’s success is about “becoming an essential part of the daily cruise journey in memorable and engaging ways.”
Like duty-free airport shops, cruise retailing benefits from captive audiences, as well as the tax advantages of being in international waters.
In an interview with travelpulse.com, however, Miguel Maal, a partner at strategy consulting firm OC&C, said cruise travelers can be turned off by inflated pricing related to that captivity.
With a solid understanding of the demographics and the “leisure ‘mission’ their travelers are on,” on-board retailers benefit from crafting aspirational experiences that work with the cruise adventure, Mr. Maal added. In particular, purchases tied to the journey can create “a meaningful, significant moment they can remember.”
Themed tours also present opportunities for targeted retailing. In a partnership with ABC’s cooking-themed talk show, “The Chew,” Disney Cruise Line is introducing a series of culinary excursions, including a cooking lesson in Tuscany, a culinary boot camp on Prince Edward Island and time at the Klipfish Academy in Norway.
- Starboard Cruise Services Drives Banner Year Of Growth With New Retail Reality Proposition – Starboard Cruise Services/PRNewswire
- Disney Cruise Line Unveils Culinary Port Adventures Approved by ‘The Chew’– Disney Cruises
- The Science of Shopping on a Cruise Ship – Travelpulse.com
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is cruise retailing an untapped opportunity for many retail brands with its experiential appeal? Does you see advantages over what airport or resort retailing offers travelers?