What lessons can we learn from the aerospace industry…
One common critique of the superyacht industry is its conservatism, which is something that Jemma Lampkin, global market segment manager for aerospace coatings at AkzoNobel, found after a discussions with several designers from within the industry. “I felt that they were quite resistant to the types of things we were talking about” she comments.
Lampkin has worked in the aviation industry developing new and innovative paint coatings for planes – from shark heads to tigers these designs really push the boundaries of what one would expect to see on the side of an aircraft. “Although special liveries were quite common before,” she continues, “ there has been a recent boom of special livery planes that have come out in the last couple of months. American Airlines has delivered a Pixar-themed livery complete with all the characters, United Airlines has recently employed female artists to design its own special liveries and several sports liveries have been completed for Manchester United. Special liveries and unusual design are becoming quite standard.”
"It doesn’t have to be as literal as putting an animal on the side of a yacht – there are plenty of other ways of expressing creativity."
So why hasn't this trend transferred over to the superyacht industry? One initial concern may be the question of whether paint on superyachts could cope with the challenging conditions at sea, but in reality coating systems on planes have to cope with far more. “Aerospace topcoats are designed to be weather resistant from -60C to 30+C in 20 minutes – if an aircraft comes from cruising altitude to a landing position in the Middle East it can easily experience a 100-degree temperature difference, “ explains René Bremer, AkzoNobel’s key superyacht account manager in a recent interview with The Superyacht Group.
Large, multinational paint companies such as this do have the advantage in this instance as they can gain knowledge by learning from the experiences of its different departments. “[Our divisions] can look into each other’s kitchens, “ Bremer continues. “Sometimes our cooks make use of each other’s receipts and experiences, making products and systems market-specific – so the high demands of one market segment can be used as a base for further developments in another, and vice versa.”
Although possible, what Lampkin believes is preventing skill transfer spreading to superyachts is the attitude of the industry in general. “From my experience, in aerospace painting, the quality standard is better and it is always exploring how it can be more creative and efficient. I’m not saying the yacht industry doesn’t do that but I think that kind of self-reflection is maybe an opportunity.
“One of my favourite quotes is ‘complacency kills all business’”, she continues. “The question is how we avoid that and do things in a better or more unique way. It doesn’t have to be as literal as putting an animal on the side of a yacht – there are plenty of other ways of expressing creativity. Furthermore, in terms of engaging with or finding a new generation of owners, from a customer journey perspective, they will think and behave differently to traditional superyacht owners.”
How the superyacht industry can prepare for the demands of the next generation of superyacht owners is a topic that will be discussed in detail at The Superyacht Forum this year. As a partner of the event, AkzoNobel will be present to further discuss what we can learn from the aerospace industry and whether we should be taking more inspiration from this sector.