The Millennial takeover 🔥
Everyone in the industry is talking about the next generation, but what does that actually mean?
Millennials are, technically speaking, defined as people born between January 1983 and December 1994. The word was first coined in 1991 in the book ‘generations’ by a man named William Strauss who wasn’t even sure the name would stick when he first made it up. In the last decade or so the term has made the transition from a kind of ‘ageist slur' to a business buzzword. But now, the oldest people within that generational bracket are 38 years old, meaning there are already some Millennials captaining superyachts, buying superyachts, and making key decisions that are transforming the superyacht industry as a whole.
So where do we draw the line when it comes down to the next generation? The superyacht industry is, relatively speaking, quite old and conservative, so I suppose you could say the Millennials are emerging, slowly coming into managerial roles and positions of power. However, in the US, Millennials make up a third of the workforce and roughly 83 percent of workers have already witnessed Millennials managing Gen X'ers and Baby boomers in their offices. If you look at Millennials in Western economies, they’ve pretty much already taken over, definitely so in the most prosperous and future-proof industries.
I feel like the superyacht industry sometimes misinterprets and over exaggerates all the qualities of the younger generation that they want to see. For example, nobody talks about how cantankerous and grumpy most Millennials are, a survey conducted by Deloitte revealed that the Millennial generation is actually quite gloomy. Climate change and income inequality are their two biggest worries, only 55 percent feel like the business sector has a positive impact on society and almost two thirds of them think that businesses in general have no ambition beyond wanting to make money.
Another common misconception is that all Millennials love technology. In the same survey by Deloitte it was revealed that both Millennials and Gen Z believe that they would be physically healthier reducing social media consumption, most of them think it does more harm than good, and two fifths wish that they could stop using it completely.
I think the superyacht industry needs to get better at integrating words like wholesome, real and organic into their work if they want to appeal to the next generation. An overwhelming 90% of Millennials say brand authenticity is important, younger consumers prefer products which are nostalgic and genuine. Perhaps some of the new technologies that are circulating aren’t entirely necessary, and don’t have much purpose other than impressing peers. For example AI on superyachts, what's the point? So many crashes and collisions already occur due to malfunctioning technology, and can someone really say that they love yachting when a robot is controlling the vessel while they sip champagne on the aft deck. That interaction between the boss and the captain on the bridge is usually quite a special moment that can inspire a new found appreciation for all the work and passion that goes on behind the scenes.
My opinion, as a humble Generation Z’er, is that the superyacht industry shouldn’t concern itself too much with what Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are doing, if anything, the more outrageous their ventures are, the more detached they become from the younger generation. I’ve been a part of so many press conferences where I’ve watched people in their 50s and 60s talk about my generation in such general and obvious terms. Not all of it is wrong, but at the same time not every generational aspect is accounted for. We do want the world to be cleaner, we do want more technology that's going to make our lives easier, and yes, we do think lots of structural glass looks really cool. But at the same time, we like listening to music on vinyl record players, we like wearing retro fashion, and we absolutely love a cheeky selfie on a polaroid or film camera.
That's why at this year's Superyacht Forum Live, we will be discussing and debating, in great detail, what the vision is for the superyacht industry in 2030. I’m sure some of the Baby Boomers and Generation Y’ers will want to contest my opinion, statistically speaking they will most probably have a more positive outlook than I do. But I suppose that's why I’m so excited for the event, gaining insight and perspective from all the key stakeholders from all corners of the world will only raise the industry standard and benefit the superyacht community. To see the industry programme for this year's event in RAI Amsterdam click here.
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