The Ledge, the editorial by Franco Michienzi

Digital innovation allows us to expand market horizons towards new communities. The metaverse for the nautical industry is yet to be tested

by Francesco Michienzi

The divide between real life and the digital world is growing narrower and narrower. Some industrial sectors like fashion are already heavily involved in the metaverse, increasing interest in it, but it awaits to be seen soon whether it will act as a new form of marketing or something else.

The metaverse was born in literature as a virtual world where people could seek refuge to avoid catastrophes in the real world. Today it exists solely to do business, transporting us into a virtual reality that is so magnificent it outclasses real life. More immersive than you can imagine concerning actual experiences, more attractive even though the necessary technology does not yet exist. The automotive industry has adopted a more prudent approach to the metaverse, mindful of what happened at the start of the millennium when everyone was talking and writing about Second Life, a virtual world where we would all end up living our lives. Various car manufacturers began opening virtual dealerships on Second Life, where they could sell non-virtual cars in exchange for real money.

IN THE METAVERSE, THE EMERGING BUSINESS MODEL SELLS PRODUCTS WITHIN ENTIRELY VIRTUAL REALITIES. ENTHUSIASTS ARE THEREFORE REQUIRED TO CREATE AVATARS FOR THEMSELVES TO ACCESS
THE PLATFORM AND MAKE PURCHASES.

Then the whole thing vanished into thin air, just like it had arrived, and all that money was wasted. The development and opportunities that the metaverse offers the fashion sector are, in my opinion, more understandable because customers can use their phone cameras to rapidly scan their body shape, limiting the number of purchases that are not converted into real sales on fashion e-commerce sites and the number of returns. In the case of cars, and even more so in yachting, the advantages are much less evident to me. Seeing a car or a boat in the metaverse is like being in a video game. I recently had an opportunity to test drive a 456-HP supercar and  I enjoyed experiencing the powerful adrenalin rush and the excitement of feeling it in my hands as I accelerated. Just like when I tested a 30-meter, 100-tonne displacement boat with a top speed of 59 knots in March. This was yet another confirmation that I find the real world much more captivating.

But there is a generalised way of thinking that wants to make virtually everything accessible to everyone. The first Metaverse Fashion Week was free of charge and open to everyone, without the need for tickets or private invitations. «Fashion has to be democratic and open to everyone, not just the industry itself», stated a well-known designer. «People can participate in this presentation by creating their avatar. If we think about the real world, no one wants to wear the same clothes for a whole week, no one wants to go to a party wearing an outfit they’ve worn before. In the digital world, just like in our daily lives, people want to be unique and wear exclusive luxury clothing and accessories on every occasion».The luxury goods industry, which needs a large market to be profitable, creates the illusion that what you are buying is made just for you.

I have to ask myself, do intelligent people look for exclusive products simply because they want to be the only ones to own them? Do they feel better taking part in an event that they couldn’t access in the real-life version? The mantra of every corporate communicator is similar in almost every sector, namely offering exclusive experiences. I believe that humans, and not avatars, are nourished by real feelings, passions, emotions, and experiences. What a person can do, thanks to their feelings, is unimaginably powerful. In The Ledge, the main character decides to sacrifice himself to save the person he loves.

TALKING ABOUT LUXURY IN THE NAUTICAL INDUSTRY, COMPARING THE TERM TO WHAT HAPPENS IN FASHION,
IS INAPPROPRIATE.
BOATS REPRESENT PURE PASSION AND GENERATE STRONG EMOTIONS.

This happens in films, but also in real life if we think about what is taking place in central Europe because the strength of a feeling is so noble that it is something no avatar will ever be able to possess. I’m convinced that it’s fundamental to embrace digital innovation in all industrial sectors, as it is something that allows us to broaden our horizons to incorporate new market opportunities. However, I’m also firmly of the idea that the relationship between the physical and metaphysical still needs to be explored in its entirety. The emerging business model that sells products within entirely virtual realities is not ideal for such a complex consumer product as a boat. The relationship is not just between the object and reality, which could also be virtual, but between people and the emotions that the object itself can produce through its use.

(The Ledge, the editorial by Franco Michienzi – Barchemagazine.com – June 2022)