Like many travel industries, cruising was hard-hit by the pandemic, with the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reporting that embarkations dropped by 81 per cent in 2020 from the previous year and 70 per cent of related business reporting layoffs or furloughing during the pandemic. However, the industry is proving resilient in the long-term: in the CLIA upside predictions, passenger volume is expected to recover to 101 per cent of 2019 levels by the end of 2022 and 12 per cent higher than 2019 by 2026. Approximately 60 per cent of related businesses and organisations are now hiring.
The cruise liner retail market was valued at $436.8 million in 2020 and is projected to reach $2.9 billion by 2028, according to Allied Market Research. Big-name brands such as Benefit Cosmetics, Clarins and Dior all sell in the cruise retail space, as well as indie names like Foreo and Spectrum Collections. As well as Chanel, Virgin Voyages is championing smaller companies such as Comfort Zone, says associate vice president of onboard revenue Sally Barford. “We want the retail space to feel edited and curated,” she says.
The indie advantage
Cruise retailer Harding+ say beauty has grown by 30 per cent within its business, an uptick beauty category manager Caitlin Allen chalks up to growth in niche brands and changes in the cruise guest demographic, which are skewing younger according to recent booking data. The company added 22 new beauty brands to its partner list last year, including Augustinus Bader, By Terry and Anastasia Beverly Hills, Allen says. She adds that cruise guests are close to rebounding since the pandemic halted trips, with passenger numbers just 5 per cent below peak levels in 2019. With over 104 brands across 90 different onboard shops, Harding+, who worked with Chanel to create the Valiant Lady pop-up, is a $700 million business globally.
For indie brand Foreo, which makes beauty tools such as cleansing and skin-firming devices, cruise retail has proven a vital platform for consumer education as well as sales. Describing cruise retail as “core” to its 2023 growth strategy, head of sales Robert Stout says that travel retail currently makes up 10 per cent of Foreo’s business, and its 500 per cent increase year-to-date in sales is mainly driven by cruise retail. “We’ve found that cruise ships give us a really great way to spend more time with our customers,” says Stout. “We can offer them a really strong consultation and education experience to help them understand how a device fits into their routine and benefits them. That’s where we’ve seen significant growth.” Currently, on 10 ships, the company plans to increase their cruise distribution network from 2023.