What Millennials Need From Golf
We’ve been hearing the horror stories for years. The millennials are coming to town with their apathetic attitudes, hipster clothing and social anxiety ready to post to Instagram instead of actually living the moment. Right now, the American millennial generation commands $1 trillion dollars in discretionary income. That number is expected to increase exponentially as millennials – impacted by a struggling job market and crippling student loan debt – ease their way into adult consumer behavior. Before you jump to conclusions and prepare for house music and denim on the golf course – or the end of golf as we know it – take a look at what makes millennials tick, and how they can positively impact the game of golf.
While the defining age for the millennial generation varies, there are a few consistent characteristics that sum up the generation well. Millennials are collaborative, team players that value social inclusiveness and acceptance. They are extremely tech savvy, maintain almost constant contact with friends and family and love to share pictures as a way to allow their social networks to live the moment with them. They are loyal to brands and businesses that share their moral values and look down on misleading marketing messages that are sales-based. Millennials respond to “story living” as opposed to “storytelling,” meaning they want to interact with company to create personal connections instead of simply engaging in purchases.
What do millennials expect from golf?
Currently, 25 percent of millennials consider themselves golfers. That metric – which mirrors the percentage of golfers in the general public – looks great without context, but the truth is that many millennials don’t believe you have to play the standard 18 holes to be considered a ‘golfer.’ Millennials are notorious for weighing leisure options against opportunity cost, and with the abundance of choices for serendipitous adventure available to them, the four hours it takes to play 18 holes of golf might make them miss something else. So what do millennials expect from their golf outing? They want added amenities like premium food and beverage and online interaction to peak their friend’s fear of missing out (FOMO). They want the best value for their money and a customized golf experience that fits into their schedule and budget, not necessarily the traditional 18 holes.
The Running Model
In the world of sports, understanding what millennials want has led to great gains for leisure activities that were once struggling. A decade ago, marathon and other endurance event sign ups were at an all-time low, but you might have seen an increase in 5k races, tough mudders and color runs. These are experiences that create lifelong memories and photogenic moments that can be easily uploaded to social media. These athletic events are similar to golf in that they involve the outdoors, they can be easily documented and photographed for social media, they require patience, practice, and training and customers can compete with their friends. So why hasn’t golf seen the same participation increases if the experience is so similar? Part of the reason is because the endurance events are shorter, they are unique experiences specific to a time of year or charitable cause and offer amenities like craft beer and Wi-Fi. So just add internet, hooch and some photo opportunities and every millennial will rush to the links, right? Of course it’s not that easy, but there are opportunities to turn each golf experience into a unique and sharable moment by incentivizing social media engagement, offering twilight rates, free rental clubs, young-professional discounts, and responding immediately to customer compliments and complaints.
Things to remember when marketing to millennials
- Embrace an idea that falls within your brand authority
- Sell the idea, not the product
- Spark social conversations and engagement with influencers (the right people not the most people)
- Invite everyone to the party (millennials love social acceptance)
- Create content to inspire
- Provide a customizable experience
- Be transparent with your goals, morals and practices