The first question raised by this article is obviously the difference between a yacht and a superyacht. We will use the definition used by SuperYacht Times, a superyacht being a yacht over 24m. The main reason for the use of the definition is that over 24m most vessels will operate with a permanent crew, truly changing the experience from an owner-operated yacht to professional crew operated superyacht. Yet in the ever-changing landscape of yachting the other aspects that were giving sense to that demarcation are no longer relevant. We are now seeing 50m yacht models, which was unimaginable 20 years ago. Yet the marketing of a shipyard building models and a shipyard building custom yachts are widely different.
The first question we are asking here is would it make sense for Feadship or Abeking Rasumussen to base their marketing on the performances of their yachts, such as Pershing does with “Luxury Speed Boats” or on their amenities, like Van Der Valk with the “BeachClub”. Large superyacht manufacturers tend to build their reputation on craftsmanship, heritage and exceptional qualities. As the client is the end designer of his own vessel, marketing on performances, amenities or any material selling points wouldn’t be truly relevant. Superyacht manufacturer hence need to work on a much longer-term to build a strong brand image of craftsmanship through events, social media channels, traditional media and digital ones. On the other hand shipyards, such Azimut can market their product rather easily thanks to SEO and digital advertising, as the client knows the type of yachts they are looking for. This also applies for brokerages selling these yachts, with even higher efficiency.
Most of the clients coming to a shipyard such as Feadship or Abeking come with a broker. We have seen certain yachts of larger size being sold without brokers, but with the owner’s representative, yet in this case, the owner’s representative acts in a similar fashion as a broker. The larger yachts need therefore to be marketed both on an emotional level and a material level. The emotional level is to create a brand image for the owner, hence Feadship moto’s “There are yachts and there are Feadships”. The material level is to ensure the financial aspect of the investment, hence the “Leave it to the Expert” and “Carte Blanche”. This difference will truly differentiate the way shipyards and brokers communicate online and offline to their clientele, more BtoB or BtoC.
While the custom vs model (or on specification) aspect and the difference in clientele has a strong impact on the marketing of these products, these are not alone. The difference in management and size of operation also creates a shift from simply selling a product to creating a complete experience around yacht ownership. Now almost every single brokerage offers management, crew services and some shipyards are seen offering charters, management and help with the crew. Amels, for example, offers a crew village during the refits of their yachts and Feadship offers charter for owners prior purchase and during the build.
The yachting world is an ever-changing one and the challenges this industry is facing are immense. Convincing the most demanding individuals in the world, UHNWI to trust them with one of their most cherished assets is no easy task. Our yacht marketing experts are here to accompany you in the creation of your strategy and execution of your marketing plan.