Retail marketing is arguably the industry discipline that has undergone the biggest transformation in recent years, thanks to Covid and digital advances.

As nominations come in for the Retail Marketing Initiative award sponsored by ePropulsion at this year’s Boat Builder Awards, held in association with Raymarine, IBI talks to Azimut | Benetti Group chief marketing officer Mario Gornati about how the sector is evolving


Azimut | Benetti’s Mario Gornati has seen the business evolve from one of selling product, to selling emotion


In what ways have retail and marketing strategies evolved in recent years?

Over the last decade, brands and marketers experienced a strong acceleration of the digital revolution as media developed at an unprecedented speed. This is not just about social media, that springs to mind most readily, but involves all digital marketing tools.

To date, the launch of a new model sees digital as a priority communication channel, with three extremely significant consequences:

1) Marketing tools multiplied and marketeers must take into consideration different touchpoints which require dynamism and consistency at the same time;

2) In some cases the costs increased accordingly, as digital requires ad hoc content;

3) Everything can be measured quickly and accurately, feedback is almost immediate.  As a result, the pace of communication by the brand is tighter – but on the other hand, people’s relationship with the brand has never been stronger. And our yachting world is all about this emotional connection.

In 2019, as part of the Group’s 50th anniversary, you achieved the significant coup of displaying your Azimut S6 in Time Square, New York. The effort was praised by Boat Builder Award judges in 2019. What was the key thinking behind taking such a dynamic strategy to sell the Azimut brand?


Since its foundation Azimut dared to amaze the world with innovations that ultimately revolutionised the nautical sector and, most of all, the way yachtsmen experience the sea: today we cannot imagine a yacht without hull windows, but they did not exist before Azimut.

This is the result of an entrepreneurial approach that had the courage to introduce pioneering solutions in technology, design, aesthetics and even lifestyle.

This disruptive DNA fertilized the brand communication and bringing a yacht to Times Square during an edition of the New York Design Week, dedicated to the new frontiers of design, epitomized this heritage and celebrated 50 years of unexpected enchantment. What other brand could have done this?

In the past retail marketing was about selling a product, is it more about selling an experience now?

Yes, it is. The dealer retail network performs a fundamental function because it’s able to bring to life the experience of the brand locally and it’s the owner’s first point of contact with the shipyard. The purchase of a yacht involves the emotional sphere in an important way and retailers have the opportunity to become an expression of the brand experience and thus create an emotional connection with their customers on the basis of the shared values of the brand.

How did Covid/lockdowns impact retail marketing in our industry?

Covid marked the triumph of digital in the industry because shipyards committed to creating virtual events that could somehow make up for the experiences organised by locally by retailers, who were unable to set up meetings or gatherings. But our products have a strong emotional value, thus the virtual events have been excellent alternatives – but only for that moment. Today nothing can replace the emotional connection that a direct relationship – as the one offered by retailers – can create.

Can you identify any key retail marketing trends? How are you influenced by other sectors???

The trend is for dealers to become more and more brand embassies. You see it in the automotive and motorcycle world: flagship stores that are a gateway to the brand experience, not just stores where you go to purchase something, but places where you feel part of a community that – in the case of Azimut – shares the same values of beauty, innovation, sustainability.

Make a difference – Boat Builder Awards 2022, in association with Raymarine

Do you know a production boat or superyacht builder that has taken
Retail Marketing to another level? Be sure to nominate the builder
for the 2022 Retail Marketing Initiative award,
sponsored by ePropulsion


How to Enter

‘Retail Marketing Initiative’ past winners

2021 – Princess Yachts

2019 – Riva

2018 – Princess Yachts

2017 – Brunswick Boat Group

2016 – Sea Ray

2015 – Dominator

Tips for a Successful Entry

The Boat Builder Awards, held in association with Raymarine, are jointly organsied by IBI and METSTRADE. This year’s event will take place at the Maritime Museum in Amsterdam on the evening of Tuesday, November 15. For more information and tickets visit