Interpreting a new phase, the editorial by Franco Michienzi

The watchwords have changed, nowadays consumers want to be hearing about the environment, sustainability, gender equality, inclusiveness, mindful consumption, technological innovation, and new challenges

The most optimistic forecasts say that the Italian boat industry will see a loss of sales equivalent to approximately 13 percentage points, and the loss of roughly 5,000 jobs. This is a significant drop, but if we compare it with the figure for consumption in general, between 17 and 22 percent at the end of the year, we can breathe a sigh of relief. Obviously, we must take these figures with a pinch of salt and wait for more concrete numbers in the coming months, as well as considering the trends in boat showrooms in autumn, to be able to count new orders for 2020/2021 production. We can, however, consider them to express some sort of reasoning about the near future.

The overall reduction in GDP for pleasure boating in 2020 has to push us towards a more in-depth analysis, in an attempt to make decisions that are the most satisfactory and logical in an industry as complex as ours. This complexity also offers numerous opportunities for development though.

For this reason, we think that, over and above the market’s response to its ability to consume the boat offering, there has to be a proposal put on the table with innovative elements. We are experiencing a phase in which values and priorities are being redefined.

Focus is now on the environment and sustainability, inclusiveness, gender equality, mindful consumption, technological innovation, and new challenges, constituting a direction from which there is no turning back. Economic value is an essential target for a company, but it’s not the only one. It must now be understood that there is other intangible capital that can be tapped into, what that is precisely, and that it represents value to be created. It’s not just financial capital that exists, however essential that may be, but also capital created by the value of relationships with collaborators, capital linked to customer loyalty, or capital in partnerships with suppliers. Making the value of these aspects coherent means providing the system with continuity, fully conscious that this is the very thing that produces development and stability.

To interpret the new phase that awaits us, the big companies are hiring the best directors, such as Sorrentino, Garrone, and Guadagnino, for their new advertisements. This means they intend to focus on quality and creative ability to imagine a time after the pandemic. The boating industry doesn’t have the resources to run million-pound campaigns to encourage the use of boats or hire leading directors to create quality publicity messages. However, we feel that any message that differs from that of the past could encourage new customers to the yachting sector.

Furthermore, there’s the subject of how messages are conveyed. Companies don’t want their brands and reputation broadcast on platforms that contain negative messages. Neither do they wish to be on media channels that put all operators on the same level, as if the wrongdoings of the past can be erased by buying a bit of publicity. As a result, it has become increasingly important to engage and convey quality information in contexts that are authoritative and display the utmost integrity.

The chairman of Confindustria Nautica (Italian Boat Industry Association), Saverio Cecchi, is committed to these issues and has shown considerable sensitivity to transforming these increasingly frequent situations that transpire in the boating industry, and associated businesses in particular. Unfortunately, it’s the government that doesn’t understand the value of this industry, reflected in the unacceptable increase in VAT on the charter market, and the slowness in issuing new pleasure boat registrations. «The government and public departments should be at the service of companies and not vice versa», stated Chairman Cecchi. 

(Interpreting a new phase – – August 2020)