Are we expressing with our full capabilities?
It should be noted from the outset that I am acutely aware of the allure of the yachting aesthetic, beautiful as it undeniably is, only it seems odd that this aesthetic seems to hold sway over a tyrannical majority of superyacht buyers. As an industry are we trying hard enough to push the boundaries of design and usage or are we instead pushing buyers in all too familiar directions to spare our blushes? Where are the designs and campaigns to attract buyers who don’t already own Loro Piana polo shirts?
I don’t think it is rude or a misjudgement to say that the world of superyachts is filled with egos and pride, from the owners to the artisans and every level of service or craft in between (including myself and my own sector). After all, superyachts represent the pinnacle of wealth and luxury asset acquisition and where perfection should be the accepted standard a sense of ego and grandeur is unavoidable, especially in the instances when perfection is actually achieved. However, has pride and preconceptions of perfection meant that buyers are afraid of being perceived as representing something other than the accepted aesthetic or community?
There will invariably be stakeholders that completely disagree with what I am writing, especially those that can highlight the minute differences between every vessel on the water. I am not for a second saying that all superyachts look the same or that they are used in the same ways, only that many have a great deal of similarities.
There are, of course, elements of every yacht that are essential for it to be seaworthy, I am not advocating for hulls with holes in or superstructures that are as high as the vessel is long. I am merely pointing out that if we want to attract new generations and different demographics perhaps it is time we all stopped being so worried about being perceived as odd, out there or other. The fact that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is seemingly lost on the superyacht market at times, that or we, and indeed the buyers, are mostly looking through the same eyes.
The numbers do not support the idea that the accepted superyachting aesthetic and message is the conclusively effective way to attract new buyers, especially given how often we are speaking about the disparity between UHNWI numbers increasing and the superyacht market’s inability to capitalise on this growth. Nor can we prove that more challenging campaigns would be successful...because we haven't tried. Where are the risky aesthetics? Where are the unique messages?
We often speak about how unique superyacht owners are, how projects are bespoke and representations of buyers’ dreams and desires. I personally refuse to believe that the unique tastes of the world’s wealthiest individuals are all reflected in warm tones, floor to ceiling windows and videos of happy families.
The superyacht market is so worried about its perception that it has tried to cultivate the image that it is almost exclusively focused on good family fun, regardless of the fact that we all know that the superyacht experience can be wild and untamed. Even in the instances where party scenes are presented on superyachts, the central focus seems to be on demure entertainment, the only guests being beautiful women in backless floor-length dresses and their greying male counterparts in sharp Italian suits with suitably high-cut trousers revealing their ankles, adding to the conception that superyachts are for older people and families.
We like to imagine that superyachts are cool, but is tying a cashmere jumper around one’s shoulders or splashing around in a pool with kids the universally accepted face of coolness? I’d argue not.
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