Implicit bias occurs when a person acts subtly in accordance with an unconscious prejudicial or discriminatory attitude towards another individual, object or action. Explicit bias occurs when a person responds to a conscious judgement. I hesitate to say ‘all’, but the vast majority of marketing material in the superyacht industry is aimed at the silver-haired man with his significantly younger and perennially smiley female partner. Superyachting’s explicit bias assumes that white, middle aged males are the dominant force behind superyacht purchases, be they charter, new build or second-hand purchases.
While it may be true that the vast majority of owners are older men, to ignore the importance of the ‘Athena Factor’ is to miss the blindingly obvious. The Athena Factor, so named after the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom, craft and war, describes the ever-growing influence of women as ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs), wealth creators, managers of estates and champions of philanthropy. Between 1995 and 2014, the number of female billionaires grew 8.3 times over, accounting for 148 of the world’s billionaires.
Not only is the number of exceptionally wealthy women growing, but so is the number of women that hold senior positions in the world’s wealthiest companies. While not billionaires, they are still extremely wealthy and more than able to charter or purchase a superyacht of their own. Yet, superyacht marketing does very little to account for this.
It is also becoming increasingly common for the wives of UHNW men to play active roles in the governance of vast family estates and legacies, which frequently manifests itself as them becoming the primary decision-makers with regards non-business related acquisitions such as, for instance, a superyacht.
With the superyacht market continuously trying, and failing, to attract new custom, could it be that it’s time to try produce marketing materials that are aimed at some different demographics? This does not just go for UHNWI ladies; perhaps it’s time to start marketing yachts in such a way that it’s no longer only white, middle-aged men with young girlfriends who can picture themselves on board.