Having worked in wine, travel and real estate, I have been in and around luxury marketing for many years.  I’m always inspired by how perfume, Champagne and jewelry brands are marketed. However, this year it was time for me and be inspired by the next level, and that is the super yacht industry!

There is no better opportunity to see this in action than the Monaco Yacht Show.  How would you market a EU 20,000,000 yacht?

Every year billionaires come to the show in Monaco to see what is for sale, see and be seen, and order yachts.  As you would expect the show attracts an elite international audience of buyers.  From the yachts themselves, décor and all the accessories, water toys, luxury cars and helicopters this industry comes with the level of luxury and additional vendors most people will never see.

Here are my takeaways for what makes this industry successful, and for all luxury marketers:

Total product customization

Yacht interiors are customized just like a house, but we are talking over the top décor and a lot of opulent wow factors. These are floating jewels with serious wine cellars, infinity pools, marble bathtubs, walls finished with gold, gems and crystals. Showing the right brands is important; you have to have the right glassware, linens, decor, furniture, tableware.  Every vendor you can imagine is at the show to discuss all of this in detail.

Glamorous buying experience

From the yacht builders, to logistics, and hostesses and sales teams, the dress code is sophisticated, preppy, where labels abound, and Gucci and Chanel are on the lower end.  The atmosphere is celebratory, with champagne flowing, entertainment and hostesses at each yacht handling on board showings.  Monaco’s mega rich reputation and tax free status brings in the crowd like bees to honey.  All restaurants on site they were packed to the gills with sales teams hosting buyers, and serious conversations between the buyers and sellers.  Here the lunch and post event entertainment is just as important if not more in securing deals.  The romance and glamor is alive and well in this industry.

Attention to detail, true experts on hand

It’s not just yachts, the builders and designers all have elaborate showrooms, just temporary on the port for the four-day show.  Yacht builders, brands and experts are all there to discuss in detail the performance and design.  You can walk in and talk directly about what you want in your next yacht.  From the branding, brochures, booths, dress code, the attention to detail was impeccable.

Must have accessories

Beyond the superyachts, every accessory you might want on the water or on the yacht is available to view.  We are talking tenders, helicopters, motorized surf boards and luxury vehicles.  Like other industries, the bells and whistles can generate serious revenue just like the main product.  They are great talking points for entertaining friends and something to buy if you already have a yacht.

All access, all in one place

Buyers can tour the yachts and also try out any of the accessories available such as the tenders, vehicles, and jump inside the helicopters. Getting hands on with no limits is what makes this show special and deliver on expectations.

This crowd spends summers in the Mediterranean and winters in the Caribbean, and the rest of the time pay for the crew and running costs which are significant.  Running costs for a $150 M yacht can be $10-$15M a year.

Yes, it’s a lot of money for a part-time toy, but like anything in luxury, there are so many non tangible motivators.  Why do they buy them?  Because they can.  Entering into the superyacht lifestyle is what most people can’t do, and this is attractive.  Reputation and status is important.  Enter into a world where you can travel on a moment’s notice and bypass the mundane.   From a marketing perspective, understanding the emotional payoffs, and non tangibles, takes you in a new direction. I was so inspired after spending two days at the show!