An ongoing discussion on everyone’s lips in this industry is: How can we attract new owners? Selling our market is an area that needs continual development, reflecting the ongoing changes to consumer tastes and expectations, as well as ensuring the healthy growth of this industry. Aside from the importance of the product itself, it is the story of superyachts that also needs to be focused on.
At the recent Global Superyacht Forum, James Shepherd, director of The Superyacht Agency hosted a popular workshop that illustrated the need for clear communication of message within the superyacht market. “Talking to workshop participants highlighted the frequent lack of communication between the people setting the business objectives and those tasked with delivering marketing in many superyacht industry businesses.”
Shepherd noted how the industry at times does not place enough emphasis on the importance and value of marketing, “Large scale research conducted in the US shows that B2B brands wishing to simply maintain market share are investing around 5% of turnover in marketing. However, marketing in our industry is often perceived as an optional expense.”
Indeed, if this is the case, it is the age-old idea that if the product is good enough it will ‘sell itself’, but with more and more competition within the market across all sectors, perhaps it’s time for the superyacht world to embrace the importance of focused marketing campaigns.
With a growing presence of new luxury consumers, it may be crucial for superyacht brands to embrace disruptive techniques to attract new clientele. Looking further afield to the fashion industry, we are seeing more and more brands move away from traditional means of marketing and embracing the concept of storytelling as selling. Burberry, for example recently released their Christmas campaign focussing purely on the history of the brand, looking at the product throughout the years and the influence on its consumers.
The heavily visual, instantaneous access of social media platforms has also drastically changed the dynamic between brand and consumer. As Chris Donnelly, Verb Brands notes “Brands need to consider that on channels such as Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, they need to weave their own narrative into that of their consumer rather than simply dictate towards them in a traditional sense.”
Much of the marketing narrative now focuses on the experience in addition to the product itself, Donnelly continues, “Look at brands like Tesla, Warby Parker and Net-a-Porter, who all wrap their physical products into a seductive service offering along their entire consumer journey that creates an overall positive emotional response.” This idea is transferable to the superyacht market, and we are seeing the message change from traditional narrative to exploring the emotive aspects of yachting. This is most notable in Tim Delaney’s campaign for M/Y Solandge, which used a family-centric story at the heart of the marketing.
The problem that continues for superyacht marketing is the inherently niche product and the vastly different lifestyle and preferences of each owner. The industry needs to realise the crucial need for powerful marketing campaigns and to take elements of disruptive luxury techniques and mould them to fit our industry, and fundamentally our clients.