As one decade ends, and another begins, the superyacht industry finds itself at something of a juncture. As the zenith of private consumption, the concept of superyacht ownership in the 2020s could well come under intense scrutiny from a global population facing the very real implications of 150 years’ industrialisation. 

In nearly all regions of the world, the ‘one percenters’ have increased their share of the total pot over the last 20 years, which in turn means a bigger pot of potential clients, and a broader geographical spectrum of targets. But this growing disparity between the top one per cent and the rest is, in itself, a political hurdle that must be managed by the smartest marketeers and C-suite executives in our industry.

[Ed’s note. Europe is the one region where the top one per cent has seen its share level out. As an aside, this stagnation in growth among one of the industry’s primary client pools,  could go a long way to explaining why our own market has stagnated over the same time period.]

 

There is no doubt in this era of corporate social responsibility, the industry must balance its proposition, by diluting the traditional message with a shot of efficiency and a dash of sustainability. This will make the prospect of rewarding oneself with such a substantial one-off purchase, a hell of a lot more palatable to a new profile of customer, who has made their fortune in a completely different context to the current crop of clients. 

And on the subject of that current crop, the need for replenishment is pronounced. Wealth accumulation patterns have always meant that those who can afford superyachts are older, to say the least. Thus, those in their 60s and above make up a significant portion of our market, with the current mean average age of superyacht owners, 69.

But there are two factors that will affect the profile of our client demographic in the next 10 years. The first is an, albeit modest, shift in wealth distribution to a younger wealth demographic. In 2013, the share of the top 500 richest individuals in their 60s or above numbered 75.4%, whereas today, it is 69.9%. Their share of that wealth has fallen from 73.4% to 70.4%. this proves that, as popular conjecture suggests, ‘the rich are getting younger.’

The second, more poignant factor is that these individuals are edging ever closer to the point in their lives where their appetite for ownership will either have vanished, or their age will prohibit another commission. And then there is the obvious…

What does this have to do with us? Well, as we enter a new decade, we face a new client demographic, and this means we need to adapt everything from our marketing to our servicing, and even the ownership structure of these vessels. The latter will dissected on day two of The Superyacht Forum, in association with METSTRADE where an open forum of attendees will scrutinise whether there is there a better way to own, operate and use a superyacht. This workshop will explore a variety of models that could inspire the next generation of buyers and users... to be part of this conversation, reserve your place now.

 

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