Trade Fair Report

Trade Fair Report 4/22/2012 This past weekend, I attended the International Trade Fair Expo Lifestyle Shanghai Trade Show with other classmates. The trade show showcased a wide variety of luxury goods, from fine leathers, to luxurious yachts. There were many yacht brokers, dealers, and manufactures in attendance, showcasing their latest products and services and seeking out new ventures in the field of luxury goods. Upon entry to the event, it became clear that this event sought to seek the attention of very powerful individuals with the most refined and conspicuous of tastes.

The trade show was held at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center in the Expo Center complex. The expo center complex is located in the Pudong business area of Shanghai. It is an impressive patch in the fabric of Shanghai that shows China’s capitalist spirit. I attended the trade show with my fellow classmates, Diana La, Monica Pauperas, as well as classmate and colleague here at Zhejiang Agricultural & Forestry University, Courtney Eads. Because we were not aware that the event was by invitation only, we explained our purposes for being at the show.

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After a brief quibble, we were granted access and were soon surrounded by As this was a trade show on luxury goods, at the forefront of the event were various firms from the yachting industry. Representatives from Bayliner, Ferretti, and Fairline were all in attendance. These brokers had elaborate kiosks displaying their products. The Ferretti kiosk was set up as an interior of one of their yachts. There was a representative on site to take curious attendees on tours of their mock yachts. It appeared to be a living room in the most upscale penthouse.

The mock-up yachts was adorned with all sorts of finery. There were flat-panel television screens, sumptuous leather surfaces, plush carpeting, fresh flowers, and detailed woodwork all around. The “windows” looked onto an artificial tropical beach, as if the craft were anchored in a bay. There was a library’s worth of promotional brochures, books, and catalogs on hand. Also, Ferretti has applications for Iphone highlighting some of the exclusive accoutrements with which potential customers can envision themselves being lavished in.

I found this somewhat interesting. Shanghai, although a coastal city, has never seemed to have the “boating culture” as I’ve seen in the west in places like the Chesapeake Bay area of Virginia or San Juan, Puerto Rico. Given Zhejiang province’s long, wet, and cold winter, it was difficult for me to imagine that die hard yacht hobbyists would drop such an exorbitant and costly anchor in a harbor that could only be enjoyed for three months out of the year, no matter how badly they wanted to show off their wealth. However, this assumption was an erroneous one.

I later discovered, in chatting with other attendees, representatives from firms, and research, that China is a potential market for yacht manufacturers. “In the midst of a dramatic global economic downturn, the international yachting industry is targeting China as the wave of the future. Alex McDairmid, a British yacht designer, pointed out that China makes up a small portion of the global yacht market nowadays, but “I believe that China has the huge potential for growth, even the fastest growth in the world,” he said (McGregor). The article also elaborated that just as yachts are status symbols among the rich and powerful in America and Europe, newly minted Chinese millionaires are eager to acquire the same sort of cultural capital that their wealthy trans-oceanic counterparts have. The Chinese have been capitalizing on the economic downturn in Europe while setting their eyes on the high seas at the same time. Ferretti, in particular, is now owned by Shandong Heavy Industry Group. The New York Times states that this maneuver shows two things, that the Chinese have a taste for luxury and can now do it cheaply because of the Eurozone’s troubled economic environment.

Ferretti will continue to be managed from Italy, however, Shandong Heavy Industry group will begin making yachts in China for the domestic (Chinese) market. What is interesting about this particular acquisition is that it shows how eager the Chinese are to improve their global station. Yachting is an important industry to the Italian economy, as well as a burgeoning one in China where new marinas, yacht clubs, as well as other boat shows are being organized and constructed along China’s more temperate southern coast (Reuters).

China is now home to a sizable amount of millionaires and billionaires, all eager to find a new way to flaunt their wealth. Though the show was in Shanghai, China’s principal economic engine and a playground for her elite, many of the Shanghainese yachting community head south to cities such as Qingdao and Hainan in their pleasure vessels. As impressive as the yachts were, just as impressive was some of the services that were there to compliment yachts. From maintenance needs, staffing and crew, to food service, there were a wide array of ancillary services that go on board these yachts.

It was clear that these services were aimed at a Chinese market. “Crew members” offering their services were attractive, young Chinese girls. The same girls reminded me of the stewardesses that work on the high speed trains from CRH. They were tall, slender, and well made up wearing a tasteful uniform of nautical garb. An interesting marketing contrivance was employed to garner the attention of attendees. They offered attendees beverages, and brought them out with pamphlets and brochures. Under the beverages was a cocktail napkin that stated “Let me serve you on the high seas! I thought this was a clever and cheeky way to demonstrate the services they offered. When opened, the brochure stated that they offer food preparation, light cleaning, and other domestic services on board your super yacht. It was an interesting experience to say the least. Trade shows, especially this one, offer potential customers to have the sensual experience of owning and enjoying their products and services first hand, while allowing industry insiders to network, discuss trends, and seek out new opportunities and ventures with their colleagues in their industry.

It was clear that the firms present dedicated a lot of resources, be it financial or otherwise, in creating elaborate and vivid displays of their products. “Booming Yacht Industry Sails Into China”- CRJEnglish. com;http://english. cri. cn/6909/2011/09/28/1781s660486. htm “Chinese Company Buys Italian luxury Yacht Maker” Reuters. Retrieved from the New York Times