2017 Golf Consumer Franchise:
The golf consumer franchise results for 2017 continued the directional signal from 2016 that a support point for the golfer base may be in sight. That said, it remains a challenge to find a consistent, discernible pattern of where the bottom is and when we're likely to arrive. Of our 3 Consumer Franchise core metrics, the cardinal Play Rate was measurably down driven by a drop in the Frequency Rate coupled with a fractional decline in the Participation Rate. Underneath the core metrics, there's a mix of encouraging and discouraging diagnostic measures which we'll detail in this issue.
Trend-wise, the Play Rate decline in '17 is similar to the 5-year trend translating into the sound bite of "Similar result, different storyline." The previous years' Pellucid narrative has been "big drop in participants offset slightly by gains in frequency" compared to this year's storyline of "frequency drop against flat participants." Take your pick of the following assessments: Stabilization of the consumer base has proven to be elusive or we just can't catch a break in getting participation and frequency to improve in tandem. In this issue I'll walk you through my annual exercise of reviewing the size, shape and shifts in the underlying diagnostics of the golf consumer base:
- I'll explain and define the core metrics and component measures which comprise the Pellucid National Consumer Franchise Scorecard from Play Rate (Rounds-per-Capita-per Year) to Involvement Groups (Committeds, Involveds, Casuals). We're continuing the "synthetic" calculation of both Play and Frequency Rates (mixing the consumer survey golfer count and the facility reported rounds demand figure) which makes the core metric results slightly more positive (e.g. consumers reported playing 6% fewer rounds vs. the facility-reported -3% figure)
- I'll provide the 2017 consumer survey results and commentary on the "advancers" and the "decliners" and my interpretation of the "storyline." This will encompass the number of golfers, frequency (both our synthetic and pure consumer survey views), gender, age, income and involvement groups. I'll leave the "new math" calculations of digital, simulation, entertainment and range-only golfers etc. to the allied industry associations led by the NGF when they publish their revolutionary new State of the Industry format and report sometime this year
- I'll walk you through a new element in our Consumer Franchise tracking where we look at the current year change vs. Year Ago (YA) and whether that change represents an improvement or deterioration vs. trend (which, throughout this analysis is defined as the 5-year Compound Annual Change Rate or CACR). The "encouraging" news here is that one of our core measures and the majority of the 14 component measures were improvements vs. trend which is the support for Pellucid's "decelerating decline" storyline
- Finally, I'll offer my hypothesis that our slowing erosion is unfortunately more likely a product of "running out of golfers to lose" vs. "successful, scalable attraction/retention programs gaining traction." I'll address the next logical question of, "Why does it matter how we get there?" which simply is the difference between a future where we're flattening out at current levels and staying there (shelf) vs. flattening out en route to renewed growth (springboard). We'd obviously prefer the latter
For our Executive Summary recipients, that's your preview of the current issue. Hopefully we've piqued your curiosity enough to entice you to explore one of three ways you can expand on your knowledge and join the conversation: (www.pellucidcorp.com):
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