The Superyacht Life Foundation and the International University of Monaco offer the superyacht industry key insights into the behavior and perceptions of Ultra High Net Worth Individuals at The Superyacht Forum 2023.
Research undertaken by the Superyacht Life Foundation and the International University of Monaco (IUM) into ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWI) attitudes towards superyachts took center stage on the first day of The Superyacht Forum 2023, as the annual conference kicked off on 14 November in Amsterdam.
Presented by 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.
Among the surprising findings, derived from interviews with a panel of potential superyacht owners, were that UHNWIs consider luxury elements as necessities in their lives, with yachts, helicopters, and private planes seen as utilitarian. This leads to two other insights into the priorities of UHNWIs: 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 for the younger generations.
The research also highlights that superyachting belongs not so much in an asset class but rather as part of experienced-based goods. Experience-based goods is a sector that was growing pre-pandemic and has only accelerated post-pandemic, meaning that there is considerable potential for growth in the superyacht sector. However, it is worth noting 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, they argue, the superyacht industry can therefore tap into the core driver for a potential owner to make the commitment to purchasing a yacht. Consequently, the experiences offered by ownership and chartering 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, the potential for 24/7 headaches, and the unfavorable 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 greatest opportunity to grow by improving aspects of its service offering and professionalism, both of which were perceived 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 (SES) as not always seeming professional and mismanaging their expectations.
As well as spotlighting the essence of experience over the asset and showcasing that the superyacht sector is really competing in the tourism industry, the authors of the research pulled out three other key facets to consider. First is that one-stop shopping is a big new trend. Creating a centralized experience with greater collaboration between industry parties to combine products and services could potentially pay dividends. This synergy would first reduce the complexity of the SES in the eyes of the client and also improve the service economy system by bringing it more in line with customer experiences in other industries.
Second, there is a trend from conspicuous to conscious purchasing, which means that aspects such as sustainability are playing a bigger role day by day. Last, the concept of ‘slow yachting’ is important, manifested through creating a slower pace for clients to experience better yachting during key phases such as the purchase of a yacht.
The insights offered by the unique research of the Superyacht Life Foundation and IUM’s researchers confirmed some aspects that the industry has long guessed – that the experiential nature of yachting is one of the most critical aspects. The research also highlighted critical gaps that the industry can address to improve its appeal, particularly with regard to customer journey mapping and customer experience management.
Moreover, the results highlight the importance of industry collaboration, not only in its service offering to clients but also in its approach to promoting the positive aspects of the superyacht lifestyle to the wider world and, in particular, to potential customers. In particular, this ties in with the Superyacht Life Foundation’s own mission to change the perceptions of superyachts and draw attention to the unique and exceptional experiences they offer.
“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 UHNWI’s purchasing behaviors highlights that the challenges can indeed be converted into opportunities.
But for this, the entire industry needs to embrace a collaborative and supportive spirit. Based upon our interesting interaction with many attendees, we are hopeful that this can achieved!.”
Dr. Annalisa Tarquini-Poli
“During the plenary session and our workshop, we realized that the industry is, in its majority, still inside-out driven. 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.”
Dr. Philip Klaus
The Superyacht Forum 2023
About The Superyacht Life Foundation
The Superyacht Life Foundation is a non-profit, commercially agnostic industry body that champions the positive people, places, and projects surrounding the superyachting good life. The Foundation, together with its 27 partners from different sectors within the industry, uses its unbiased status to educate, inform, and engage – opening up the world of superyachts to new audiences and securing the long-term health of our superyacht industry.Updated 24 November 2023