'17 Industry Challenge:
Delight Boomers, Entice "Gen Next"
Based on attendee feedback from our three '16 State of the Industry presentations during the PGA Show and GIS, the seminal finding was Stuart Lindsay's treatment of how we now have two distinct audiences and tasks in managing golfers, rounds and revenue over the next 3-5 years. I've attempted to capture it in the headline and we'll explore it further in this article. Or, for the full story, you could order the State of the Industry suite which includes the facts (.ppt slides), the storyline (.pdf commentary report) and even hear it from Stuart himself (access to the presentation video):
Taking a deep dive into the historical consumer survey information, which we license from the National Sporting Goods Association and takes us back to '85 if we need to, Stuart looked at changes in rounds contribution, golfers and frequency as the Baby Boomers (roughly born '46-'64 depending on your source) and what I'm calling Gen Next ('65-'00 birth years encompassing both Gen X and Millennials) have aged from '95 to '15. The picture is fascinating and outlines the dual challenge before us relating to the golfer franchise. It's like trying to listen to a different song in each ear on stereo headphones (or audit two conference calls using two different earbuds which I experience weekly, try that one in order to replicate the challenge here):
- The Baby Boomers are literally carrying the industry on their collective back as they continue the game into their late career/retirement years; they like the traditional product and are increasing frequency as everyone predicted they would (there is a revenue implication however...). As we chase Gen Next however and try to appeal to them, we can't alienate this bedrock foundation consumer base!
- Gen Next has largely "taken a pass" on our traditional product both in participation and frequency which is offsetting the Baby Boomer "dividend" previously promised by the NGF and others. We need to reinvent ourselves in order to entice them into the game because, at current participation and frequency, when they're needed to replace the Baby Boomers aging out, the math is not going to be pretty.
- So how do we attempt to accomplish both the "delight" and "entice" missions as owner/operators and consumer equipment manufacturers?
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that this is a herculean task or that it hasn't been attempted and conquered previously (think skiing with the dichotomy between downhillers (Baby Boomers) and snowboarders (Gen Next) which they largely figured it out with terrain parks etc. and different marketing messaging for each group). The first step is understanding that there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer and we'll have to deal with the inherent cognitive dissonance (explained at the end of this article) in '17 and beyond. Stuart's candid summary point however was well-taken by all; you must protect your Baby Boomer franchise at nearly all costs while intelligently enticing Gen Next.
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