As a Product Director in the B&G brand, what does your day to day role involve? What are you focussed on?
Right now I’m 100% focussed on the launch and rollout of Nemesis™, our new state-of-the-art display. My time is split between handling the product side of things (stand up meetings with R&D each day, ensuring the product continues to move in the right direction, product testing etc.) and the commercial side (product lifecycles, price points and working with marketing.)
I’m also involved in the future direction of B&G as a brand, developing the roadmap of products for the next 4-5 years. You may not be aware that we have many different product concepts that never make it beyond the conceptual stage. Despite this, product concepts are vital in continually driving innovation and building the best pipeline of products.
Given the nature of sailing and the technology behind it, is there a greater degree of separation between B&G and our Simrad / Lowrance brands?
Sailing is unique because there is an instrument system (like B&G’s H5000) in the background that defines the majority of data displayed. On an elite sailing boat, there is a plethora of sensors measuring literally everything you can imagine. They all have to be installed, calibrated and maintained.
When we develop products for B&G, we leverage the knowledge (i.e. – the technology and innovation) gained from our other brands (Simrad, Lowrance and C-Map) to improve the B&G product.
How would you evaluate B&G’s position in the market generally?
If you go back 20 years (prior to when B&G was purchased by Navico) we targeted the niche, top end of the market. B&G customers were generally either superyachts, bluewater cruisers or race teams – from events like the Ocean Classics (Fastnet, Sydney-Hobart, Newport-Bermuda), Americas Cup, Volvo Ocean Race or Vendee Globe.
When Navico acquired B&G, it provided the platform for B&G to broaden out its offering with more resource, investment, expertise and – very importantly – technology platforms. It enabled B&G to develop a ‘system’ – from radar to VHF and a navigation system. This opened up a lot of customers, including volume boat-builders.
Take the Triton system for example, which takes away the complexity of the instrument system in the background. What’s more, it’s a scalable, ‘plug and play’ system for 25 foot cruisers and saw installations on yachts, right up to the world’s biggest superyachts. This was a big transformation for the brand.
B&G is still heavily involved (and always will be) at the top end of the racing market. It’s our heritage as a brand, and we allow the technology developed at the elite level to trickle down to our other products. For now, it’s about finding the right balance between mass-market products (which drive growth) and maintaining our racing heritage with the latest innovation.
You mentioned Nemesis earlier – what makes it unique and what will drive its success?
First of all, Nemesis is a high end display and is aesthetically stunning. It fits in with the quality of boat is designed to be installed on! (Thankfully, there is now an abundance of power on today’s big yachts. This gives us more freedom to run high resolution, beautiful displays….!)
The second key driver in its success will be around customisation. With Nemesis, users can create whatever layout of dashboard they desire, totally from scratch. For instance, they can mix and match different graphical gauges, change colours or even overlay data on to an IP Camera view (e.g. overlay a camera fixed on the sail with wind data from sensors.)
Currently, other competitors don’t have the same offer and you don’t get the same level of customisation. Nemesis also has a built in web browser which means you can access other integrated systems on your yacht, that will be key to its success too.
Finally, while customers demanded big colour displays, at the same time, installers struggled with integrating competitor hi-res displays with existing Navico systems. Nemesis means they don’t have to do that anymore.
Is Nemesis part of B&G’s broader strategy in the marketplace?
Nemesis will boost our visibility in systems, which is an important market for us.
The feedback on Nemesis so far has been brilliant with people placing orders the day they learnt about the product!
The key thing to point out with Nemesis is that it is not a chart plotter – it’s a display that is focussed on instrument system and data. People assume it’s a chart plotter because they are not used to seeing such a large, bright instrument display!
With COVID-19 we’ve seen fishing licenses explode, entrants into the powerboat market increase, sailing is more specialised and perhaps less accessible. How do you think it will fair?
Positively for sure, but perhaps more in the long term than our other brands.
The signs I’ve seen are certainly positive. At my local yacht club, I’ve noticed a lot more people putting time and effort into getting their boats up and running. Many of them had their annual holiday on their boat this year and made improvements to the comfort on board and maintenance. Personally I’m doing the same!
I’ve also noticed people in the marina upgrade their boat too. This can only be a good thing for B&G and marine electronics in sailing.