Catering to a Lux Crowd

Yachts are in their own category; when it comes to marketing, professionals can't draw comparisons with other so-called 'luxury' industries. Trade advice from colleagues working to raise brand awareness and increase sales for perfume, fashion brands or even cars is virtually moot for us in the yacht industry. Yet we are sorely in need of fresh and inventive ideas if we are going to support our company's success upon the industry's recent wave of growth.

Boldly go where no other marketer has gone before.

Today, the ultra rich don't want to hear any more about a company's long history. They are bored by claims about high quality and tradition of excellence.

"Bordighera" by Renoir.

"Bordighera" by Renoir.

"The industry needs to realize that consumers...are no longer interested in the same predictable marketing stories. The concept of traditional luxury has become obsolete. Just like with high-end cars and real estate, the coolness factor often rests on attributes that are not necessarily related to quality." - Metayachts.

If you are marketing a luxury product and potential clients are in the UHNWI category, you must find an innovative and bold way to capture their attention. Whether it be a virtual reality tour of your semi-custom models, sponsorship of an innovative event - rather than the classic golf tournament, think heli-skiing outing, survival expedition or flyboard competition - connecting your brand to something that is fun and fresh will help attract the attention of the growing fraction of Gen Xers and Millennials with ultra purchasing power.

Another idea is lux-style product placement; for example, a cameo in the 2012 Bond film Skyfall made Pruva Yachts' "Regina" famous. 

Inclusive Brand Awareness

In traditional marketing, reaching anyone who falls outside of the target is considered wasted advertising spend; in luxury marketing, however, diffused brand awareness only adds to the allure of the company and it's products. "It is essential to spread brand awareness beyond the target group, but in a very positive way– brand awareness is not enough in luxury; it has to be prestigious," according to Vincent Bastien, professor of marketing at HEC Paris. 

This is exactly why you should not consider time spent updating and posting to your company's social media pages as unproductive. Widespread digital marketing boosts the prestige of a luxury brand by making it a well-known and respected name beyond the elite circle of current clients. 

“Social media is a key tool in establishing and increasing brand awareness. These days everyone is on Instagram or Twitter; it transcends age, social status and income,” explains Entrepreneur Magazine. “As a luxury manufacturer,” stays Deniz Keskin, digital marketing manager at Porche, “we see more and more of our actual customers in that space."

In fact, Porsche is a good case study for the use of social media in building brand awareness and communicating with users to gather early feedback on possible business issues. The company posts videos for fans showing the production process and test drives and engages followers by inviting them to post pictures and use dedicated hashtags. "Your actual and future customers will most likely be on Facebook or Twitter. Reach out to them and have them talk about your products. Even better, make that happen within spaces you can control," explains Keskin.

Yet Exclusive Access

The other important facet of luxury marketing is the perception of exclusivity. Part of the attraction to a luxury item is that it's not available to everyone. This posh feel can translate to digital marketing as a restricted owners' section on the website, exclusive micro-sites and private promotions.

Another strategy employed with caution in luxury industries is the use of star power. Celebrity endorsements can be done tastefully where the star is not used as a selling agent encouraging purchase through imitation, but rather as non-explicit testimonial for existing clients. An endorsement "comforts the status of being an extraordinary product for an usual customer, which is also an ordinary product for extraordinary people," according to Entrepreneur

Endorsements could take the form of interviews in your company's brand magazine, an emotive video shown at an exclusive event, photos snapped of celebrities (with their permission, of course) on their yacht or charter. To maintain a sense of privacy for clients and heighten the sense of exclusivity, these images or videos should not be widely distributed or used on social media however. 

Bottom Line

Let's move beyond the traditional messages about quality and tradition and start attracting new potential clients through fun and exciting marketing efforts; we are talking about yachting after all!