Technological Evolution Proves that VR is the Future of Yacht Industry
Consumers are constantly changing and so are their needs. New trends are coming up all the time, and the brands that are quick to adopt are often more successful. However, simply jumping on the bandwagon is different from making it actually work for your business. That is why many big luxury brands like Swarovski, Remy Martin, Audi, Dior are successfully implementing Virtual Reality to engage more customers and increasing the conversion rate.
The use of Virtual Reality is becoming more and more popular in the automotive industry. From Audi to Cadillac, many luxury car brands are considering the idea of virtual showrooms. ‘It’s not just about showing our cars in a very realistic way, it’s about the experience” says Marcus Kuhne, strategy lead at Audi.
How Virtual Reality evolved in last 10 years to reach where it is now
Virtual Reality was not very popular outside the gaming console even a few years ago. Only around 2007, when a few researchers started experimenting with VR, they realized that the scope of Virtual Reality can be wider. The University of Reading (UK) introduced VR in the field of medical science by re-creating virtual warzones to help in the treatment of PTSD sufferers. In 2008, professor Stephen O’Leary of Melbourne University develops a surgery simulator to give medical students a realistic practice at operating.
2014 was a big turning point for Virtual Reality as Google launched cardboards in the market. Google Cardboards quickly gained a huge popularity as anybody could use it just with the help of a smartphone. After that, Facebook invests $2Billion in Oculus Rift with a plan to invest over $3Billion in future. Not only the market, the technologies used in VR have also gone through a process of evolution in the past few years. In 2015, the first use of the accelerometer and a gyroscope in Samsung Gear VR for a more real-like immersive experience is an example of that.
According to PwC, there’s 85% increase in funding of VR from 2015 to 2016. In 2016, HTC launched its first virtual reality headset that uses “room scale” tracking technology allowing people to move in 3D space and interact with the environment using motion-tracked handheld controllers. The same year, Oculus VR (a division of Facebook Inc.) also came up with their Virtual Reality headset Oculus Rift. Recently, HTC has introduced their wireless VR headset allowing people to get rid of pesky wires during their VR experience.
PwC predicts the market value of Virtual Reality to be around $24.5 Billion in 2020. Following are two charts that show how the market of Virtual reality has changed and investment on VR has increased in last five years.
According to the chart below, each year is divided into 4 quarters (Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4) and the difference between previous forecast and a revised forecast is shown (Image 1). The most interesting part of this chart is an unexpected increase in the investment of VR between the 4th quarter of 2014 and the 1st quarter of 2016. This dramatic increase in VR investments in marked as “Magic Leap” in the image (Image 2).
The Yacht Industry has also evolved significantly in the past few years
The marketing strategies of the yacht industry are moving more and more into the digital world. In today’s competitive market, it has become a necessity to use new and emerging technologies to gain new and retain old customers for a longer period of time. Many Yacht companies are making their marketing strategies innovative by adopting to Apps, remote automation and so on.
Yachts, like VR, have gone through a long process of evolution. To cite an example, mention must be made of the Autotrim project of Ferretti Yachts. Autotrim is an automated system to adjust surface propellers and optimises speed, fuel use and trim. Other recent projects include Floodable Garage, which makes it possible to haul a tender with the utmost ease. Ferretti Yachts have also introduced the use of DMT (Dual Mode Transom) in the stern area allowing the Convertible Top to easily transform into a convertible model. One latest technology that can be found in almost all yachts these days is Seakeeper. Seakeeper helps people get rid of motion sickness by eliminating boat roll in the water. The installation of 4K ultra HD video system in Heesen Yachts’ Galactica Supernova and Bartali Wider 150 having hi-tech speakers resembling QR code are more examples of how technology is revolutionizing in the yacht industry around the globe.
The yacht designing technology has also evolved a long way. The midship fuel-system placement proved to be a gamechanger for Bertram yachts, as it offers better access to the below-decks and a more level ride. Viking Yachts improved the design of their 40-feet convertible by adding a second head, mezzanine seating and the cockpit engine-room access. Ocean yachts also opted for a cockpit mezzanine to adapt to the new generation of yacht lovers. Most yachts these days have modern navigation Apps installed in them.
Such acceptance of change and a greater inclination towards technology become more prominently noticeable after Recession hits the yacht industry around the year 2009. During this time, Europe, one of the leading markets for luxury superyachts, suffered the worst hit followed by a huge collapse in orders. The number of newly-built ships delivered worldwide also dropped by approx. 56% between 2008 to 2012.
Why Virtual Reality is important for Yachts
It took quite some time for the yacht industry to show the signs of recovery after an increase in order and demands came from Russia and China, two countries having a fast rise in the number of their multi-millionaires. Demands started coming from US as well. The financial crisis and a sharp fall in orders and demands showed how important it is to keep pace with the changing nature of the modern luxury buyers.
Consumers are changing, and so are their demands. Hence, holding on to old marketing tactics is no longer effective. Like other sectors of the luxury retail industry (e.g. cars and fashion), yacht merchants should also adapt to technology more. Millennial luxury buyers have more money yet less time. They are busy and more digitally-driven shoppers. Hence, concepts like virtual yacht showrooms, virtual yachts demo and changing the human ability to experience the things which should be considered to keep the customers engaged while increasing the conversion rates of the company.
Though Virtual Reality has not yet found a strong place in the yacht industry as it has in the luxury car industry, some yacht merchants have started to take interest in this new technological marvel recently. Advance technologies like Virtual Reality are very important for the yacht industry to takes consumer on a sensorial journey. In fact, IT is the future of yacht industry in order to keep pace with the fast-changing needs and nature of consumers and the market.
Virtual reality has a scalable model and great potential of how technology can be used to provide an experiential brand experience that would be inexecutable to recreate in a real-world environment which could change the face of a business.
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