One on One with Sherrie Day, Global Head of Merchandising,
Starboard Cruise Services
With both the beauty industry and cruising on an upward trajectory across all categories, leading luxury vacation retailer at sea Starboard Cruise Services is doubling down on its commitment to offer a diverse and inclusive selection of high-quality brands and products aboard more than 106 ships across 15 world-class cruise line partners. The company has launched Beauty for All, a philosophy catering to guests onboard that believes that beauty should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity or social background.
TMI had the opportunity to speak with Sherrie Day, Global Head of Merchandising, on how Starboard is navigating the high seas of consumer’s ever-changing needs while bringing innovative, inclusive beauty offerings. Lois Pasternak reports.
“We have been looking at what opportunities exist – as the whole world has changed—and the expectations for beauty have changed.
“We’ve had the opportunity to reinvent and reimagine how we present beauty to our guests on board. And we’ve taken a couple steps back. Being diverse, being inclusive, meeting everyone where they are, is where our big focus is now. We want to make sure that we’re curating beauty in a meaningful way that resonates with our guests, wherever they are, with whatever their needs are, whether it’s skin needs, whether it’s color needs, whether its hair needs. Whatever their need, we want to make sure that we’re presenting a full line of products that makes everyone feel beautiful inside and out. And so our whole priority has been looking at all of our assortments and trying to bring them to life in a different way.”
Day, who has been with Starboard for the past four years and leading merchandising on a global basis for a little more than a year, tells TMI that five key elements will be driving their strategy going forward. These include Purpose Driven, Sustainability, Health & Wellness, AI Technology and Customization & Personalization.
Inclusivity & Purpose driven assortments
Purpose driven assortments are made up of the products that Starboard’s guests have told them are most important to them, explains Day.
“Our whole culture at Starboard is built around diversity, inclusion and equity. And that’s not just through the people, but also through the products that we offer on board. So we need to make sure that our beauty assortments really represent what our guests’ needs are and we’re constantly looking for products that meet their needs.”
Hair, for example, is one of Starboard’s fastest growing categories.
“We used to approach it from one size fits all, but that doesn’t work anymore. Our guests are diverse, and her expectations are changing. She’s embracing her hair, and who she is and where she’s at. So now it’s about texture and color and links, and there’s no one size fits all for what is beautiful. We have really leaned into our hair category, and grown it so that we could speak to all of our guests on board. It’s about embracing individuality and creating solutions for an increasingly diverse audience. And it’s not just women, either. It’s for women, it’s for men, it’s for teens. Everyone is looking for products that are going to help them feel beautiful with who they are. We don’t want to change them into someone else, but enhance the beauty that they already have. And in doing that, we’ve had to look at our strategies and our business very differently. Because our brands did not necessarily come to us with that DNA, we had to go out and pull that DNA out of them so that we could diversify the offering in a different way than what traditionally had been proposed to us.”
In the hair category, Starboard recently launched OLAPLEX, the prestige hair care brand that created the bond-building category, onboard 19 ships with more coming on as part of Starboard’s self-care retail offer. Olaplex joins other specialty hair care brands, such as Moroccanoil, Mario Badescu and Sisley, and Day says that guests are responding well to the new brands.
“Our guests are super excited because they see that we’re listening. They can walk into our shop, have a place to play and discover new brands, and it embraces a much broader audience than normal. The whole hair category is doing well because it speaks directly to them.”
Day says her team at Starboard must now stay on top of where its guests are looking for information and insight to continue providing the right purpose-driven brands, a goal in which social media plays an increasingly important role, she says.
“Social media has changed the game when it comes to marketing brands. Word of mouth is much more critical. Olaplex is one of those brands that took off on social media, and we were able to dive into it in its climb up.”
A brand like Olaplex also meets Starboard’s goals to provide products that appeal to a diverse audience of consumers, says Day.
“We’re looking at brands that are inclusive. We’re always looking for brands that provide solutions that are relevant to a broad guest demographic – not just different hair types, but also different age groups. We want to stay on top of what’s important to our guests.”
Starboard also continues to offer the big national brands that are already in the product mix, even as it tries different discovery brands.
“We are very thoughtful and intentional about where we try these discovery brands based on the demographic onboard our ships. Once we get some leverage, then we move from there. We did this with Olaplex — we started with a test and trial and are now scaling up.”
Health & Wellness
Starboard’s commitment to health and wellness products is in full display onboard ships like Celebrity Beyond, which launched lifestyle brand goop last year with a selection of goop’s signature products, including the GOOPGLOW and GOOPGENES collections. goop founder and CEO, Gwyneth Paltrow, has also served as Celebrity’s Well-Being Advisor since April 2021.
“We like to take a multi-category approach to health and wellness on the ships we work with because, again, we have such a large demographic of guests onboard,” says Day. “We tap into media trends, we look at popular brands. We talked about Olaplex already, but we also have Kylie Cosmetics, which is very important, as well as goop. We’re always looking for brands that have cleaner ingredients. And we’re looking across every trend, like Ariana Grande, whose whole positioning comes from a wellness perspective.
“We’re looking for the cleanest ingredients that are not over processed. And we make sure that the brand takes a stance that is meaningful to the guests from a wellness perspective,” says Day.
Nudestix is another example of a clean new brand onboard that has resonated well with guests, she says.
“It is based on skin colors for all, and offers a diversity or shade ranges. It’s a cleaner, cosmetic line not over-saturated with chemicals that has been great for us.”
Starboard has been testing an AI enhanced mirror that helps cruise guests choose skincare and makeup.
“The mirror provides a personalized recommendation—it reads their skin, analyzes it, and then can recommend a skincare or color choices. We are getting ready to take the mirror out of the testing phase and we are super excited,” says Day.
Day stresses that the AI enhanced mirror will complement the personalized service the cruise ships are known for, not replace it.
“We always want to give our guests the best instore experience with our specialists because that one-on-one personal time together is going to help guests discover new brands, play with new products and ask a lot of questions. The AI technology is going to help our guests take it to a whole other level. Some of our beauty brands also are offering solutions where you can download apps on your phone and interact with the brands that way as well.”
The new AI mirror is being launched across multiple cruise brands, including Carnival, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean.
“We are rolling out the mirror on ships where we have boutiques carrying a full offering of makeup, skincare, fragrances and color,” Day confirms.
Day explains that Starboard’s ultimate goal is to use AI technology to help cruise guests explore the entire beauty boutique and build personalized selections that are just for her or him, whether it’s skin or color.
“There’s even AI technology that is emerging for scents that will help our guests identify what scent would work for them, what complements them, what works for their skin. We have our eye on this as well.”
Customization & personalization
Cruise guests are asking for something special that commemorates their trip, says Day.
“Our guests are asking for something that’s just for them, that they have a part in creating. So we’ve been working closely with brand partners to bring this service to life. For example, we are partnering with Bulgari to provide the opportunity for our guests to be able to create their own scents. They have a premier luxury line called Bulgari Allegra, which we have begun testing on some of our ships. Other brands are introducing bottle personalization.”
Day sees other customization opportunities in the future, such as a lip lab where guests can create their own lipstick, which she says is in early discussions. She also points out that Starboard has offered personalized liquor bottles, and customized leather goods and apparel, as well.
“Our guests want something special and unique. So we’re always looking for opportunities to take some of the brands that they love every day and put a little twist on it that makes it more personalized; and if they can be a part of that customization, that’s even better,” she says.
New Celebrity Ascent launching
With the inaugural sailings of the new Celebrity Ascent at the end of November, Day says guests will see a number of the Beauty for All elements in action.
“We expanded the footprint of beauty because it is such an important category for guests. The Ascent will have more offerings in hair, more offerings in skin, and an expanded playground for makeup, but also a Discovery Destination. As we talked about earlier, we’re always looking for new emerging brands that might come from influencers or social media, and we want a place where we can showcase those brands and introduce something fun and new and exciting for our guests. So we expanded the footprint so that we could have something for everyone. And we’re pretty excited about that.”
In summing up, Day says that the new Beauty for All philosophy is in the DNA of the company.
“Making sure that we have a diverse and inclusive assortment across all of our categories of businesses is really important for us. There’s no better place to start than with beauty, where we can reach inside and out. So you will start to see the beauty footprint expanding, the brands expanding, the playgrounds for makeup expanding, and the ability for our guests to really customize whatever those solutions are for them. We’re super excited about it. And we’re super excited about what we’re going to be able to launch on Celebrity Ascent.”