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The Superyacht Life Foundation and International University of Monaco offer the superyacht industry

You can download the presentation via this link.

Research undertaken by the Superyacht Life Foundation and the International University of Monaco (IUM) into ultra-high net worth individuals’ (UHNWI) attitudes to superyachts took centre stage on the first day of The Superyacht Forum 2023 as the annual conference kicked off on 14 November in Amsterdam.

Presented by Professor Dr Phil Klaus and Dr Annalisa Tarquini-Poli and incorporated in a wider on-stage discussion as part of the conference’s opening keynote session before an auditorium packed with key figures from the global superyacht industry, the research highlighted not only the recent movements of global wealth and the motivations behind luxury spending, but also offered insights into the perceptions of superyachting and the superyacht industry by potential superyacht owners and charterers.

The presentation and ensuing discussion – which included on-stage contributions from SYBAss market analyst Erik Floor and The Superyacht Group’s founder and chairman Martin Redmayne – helped illuminate why superyacht ownership is falling behind the increase in the number of global UHNWIs, and showed how the superyacht industry could potentially attract more clients through a shift in marketing and customer strategies.

Finding focus

Among the surprising findings, derived from interviews with a panel of potential superyacht owners, were that UHNWIs consider luxury elements as necessities, with yachts, helicopters and private planes seen as utilitarian. That informs two other insights into the priorities of UHNWIs, in that they value time – the thing they lack most of, and which those ‘utilitarian’ assets can help them enjoy most efficiently – above almost everything else, and that they most appreciate priceless experiences, which is especially true of the younger generations and particularly post-pandemic.

The research also highlights that superyachting belongs not so much in an asset class, but rather as part of experienced-based goods. With experienced-based goods a sector that was growing pre-pandemic and which has only accelerated post-pandemic, this means that there is considerable potential for growth in the superyacht sector. However, of note was that there is considerably more appetite for charter-based experiences rather than ownership, which suggests that the superyacht industry has work to do in order to attract a greater number of potential clients to take the plunge into ownership.

By focusing on and promoting the experiential aspect of superyachting, the Drs Klaus and Tarquini-Poli argued, the superyacht industry can therefore tap into the core driver for a potential owner to make the commitment of purchasing a yacht. Moreover, they argued, the experiences offered by ownership and by charter mean that the superyacht industry is effectively operating in the tourism sector, rather than the luxury goods sector.

Three for all

The research shows that the primary deterrents to clients not buying yachts are the negative experiences of other yacht owners, the high costs associated with ownership and the potential for 24/7 headaches, and the unfavourable reputation of the industry in terms of perception, sustainability, complexity of its service eco-system, and perceived lack of professionalism.

It is here that the superyacht industry has the most opportunity to grow through improving aspects of its service offering and professionalism, both of which were seen as lacking by potential clients interviewed for the research project compared to other industry sectors they engage with in their everyday lives. In particular, they cite the complex service eco-system as not always seeming professional and mismanaging their expectations. “During the plenary session and our workshop, we realized that the industry is, in its majority, still inside-out driven,” Prof. Dr Phil Klaus shared. “By embracing client centric tools successfully implemented by our clients in other industries serving the UHNWI, such as client journey mapping and client experience management, the industry will immediately turn the challenge into an opportunity.”

As well as spotlighting the essence of experience over asset and showcasing that the superyacht sector is really competing in the tourism industry, Dr Klaus pulled out three other key facets to consider. First is that one-stop shopping is a big new trend – creating a centralised experience with more collaboration between industry parties to combine products and services could potentially pay dividends because it improves the service economic system and brings it more in line with clients’ experiences in other areas.

Second is that there is a trend from conspicuous to conscious in terms of purchasing, which means that aspects such as sustainability are playing a bigger role day by day. Lastly, the concept of ‘slow yachting’ is important, manifested through creating a slower pace for clients to experience yachting better during key phases such as the purchase of a yacht.

The insights offered by the unique research of the Superyacht Life Foundation and IUM made concrete some aspects that the industry has long guessed – that the experiential nature of yachting is one of the most critical aspects – while also voicing critically important shortfalls that the industry can address to improve its appeal, particularly in terms of the customer journey.

Moreover, the results highlight the importance of industry collaboration, not only in its service offering to clients but also in its approach to highlighting the positive aspects of the superyachting good life to the wider world and in particular to potential customers. ““We are delighted to be chosen by the industry leaders to provide insights on the future of superyachting. Our groundbreaking research exploring and quantifying what drives the UHNWI’s purchasing behaviours, highlights that the challenges can indeed be converted into opportunities,” offered Tarquini-Poli. “But for this, the industry needs to embrace a collaborative and supportive spirit.” It is this especially that ties in with the Superyacht Life Foundation’s own mission to change perceptions of superyachts, and to draw attention to the unique and exceptional experiences they offer.


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