China seems to be the land for emerging markets. With more than a billion citizens, a growing middle class, and a rapidly forming elite class of super-rich billionaires, all kinds of international companies are working hard to make strides in the country. The world’s top yachting and superyacht industry players are some of the companies trying to crack into the Chinese market. Many predicted China would soon become a leading superyacht market.1
What You Need to Know About The Superyacht Market in China
The reality does not seem to match that early optimism. Our marine diesel engine dealers keep up to date with industry news and we took a deep dive into the slowly rising superyacht market in China. Read further to get a better understanding of the current states of the Chinese superyacht market and possible reasons for, what so far has proved to be, underwhelming sales.
1. Chinese Yacht Companies Are Gaining International Presence
Superyacht ownership in China may not have reached the highs once predicted, however, there have been a number of Chinese companies that have gained prominent positions in the global luxury yachting industry. HeySea Yachts Company Limited and Cheoy Lee Shipyards are prominent yacht builders and have been producing stunning Chinese built yachts. for decades.
Through a series of acquisitions and mergers, several Chinese conglomerates have also become major players. Dalian Wanda Group owns manufacturers Sunseeker and Weichai Group has majority ownership of Ferretti Group. Should the political climate allow, these companies can help capture more Chinese superyacht clients going forward.
2. Chinese Customers Have Unique Tastes and Cultural Idiosyncrasies
The yacht ownership habits of Chinese owners are a bit different from the habits of their European and American counterparts. Unlike with Western yacht owners, hopping from marina-to-marina and cruising open waters is not popular with the Chinese. Instead, Chinese owners prefer to keep their vessels mostly stationary, many of them keeping their yachts permanently docked in harbor. Superyachts are seen more as refined venues to entertain clients. Unsurprisingly, the design of entertainment spaces is prioritized, and superyacht day rentals are becoming increasingly popular.
Do Chinese Yacht Owners Even Want Superyachts?
Despite the advances made by the superyacht market in China, its future remains unclear. The difficulty of owning a yacht in China as well as different cultural needs has proved superyacht ownership dissuasive for many of the country’s billionaires. Unlike their new money counterparts, the Russian oligarchs and Silicon Valley tech giant founders, China’s super-rich aren’t as into buying mega yachts.
“There are only a few who properly use their boats in Asia to tour globally and autonomously.” – Eric Noyel, Managing Director at Fraser Yacht’s Hong Kong Office 2
The country’s recent anti-corruption campaigns led by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping may be another reason for underwhelming superyacht sales. Under his administration, thousands of wealthy individuals and high-level officials were disciplined over their extravagant spending. As a result, there is still a stigma around excessive displays of wealth, especially considering more than 200 million Chinese citizens live in poverty.
“It’s almost a crime to flaunt one’s wealth in such a public way.” – Ken Xu, Global Times 3
- Peter Simpson, Boat International – A new dawn: Inside China’s rising superyacht market
- Blake Schmidt, Bloomberg Businessweek – China’s Rich Are Different: They Don’t Buy Superyachts
- Ken Xu, Global Times – Hainan scandal as much about money as sex
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