Carnival Cruise Lines is the largest cruise company in North America and carries more than 60,000 passengers a week. The Carnival experience is the standard against what past cruisers judge their later cruise experiences. Carnival has captured the "fun" psychographic and has a strong reputation for an enjoyable, relaxed cruise. Furthermore, Carnival has a strong market expansion strategy for selling the mass-market cruise category and first-time cruisers. They have a clear vision and knowledge about the industry and a commitment to their brand essence, which is fun. Also, as an extension to their branding of the "fun" ships they are the low-price leaders. Because of their strong brand image they are able to achieve double-digit growth in the industry.
One area that Carnival needs to improve upon in order to stay competitive within the industry is information technology. Carnival has a large IS group, but the focus has been on maintenance and operations of the existing infrastructure. They had been collecting some customer data for a couple years, but were not doing anything with that data. In order to gain new customers they need to know who to market. By analyzing customer data they could find out who to focus their marketing efforts on. Carnival felt they did not have to be the IT innovator in the industry. I agree that they shouldn't be the innovator, but they do need to focus more energy on keeping up with the competition.
Management at Carnival had been discussing what strategy to use in order to get a better feel for who their customers were and how to make them loyal customers. One option was to use CRM software. CRM had been a fad that had recently swept the industry, but due to Carnival's conservative stance toward IT they did not follow suit. I think that CRM could definitely help Carnival gather and analyze customer data in order to gain new customers and keep existing customers. However, I don't think that Carnival is at a point yet that CRM...
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