As I mentioned in this blog, I thought the Consumer Behaviour Study unveiled last week by the National Allied Golf Associations mostly just confirmed things we already knew, as opposed to coming up with any magic formula to suddenly fill the fairways.
Below are conclusions reached by the study in its executive summary. Is there anything there that hasn’t been discussed frequently within the industry as golf faced its challenges?
In order to drive engagement and subsequent increases in rounds played and dollars spent on lessons, equipment, apparel, accessories and in the clubhouse, it is essential to have more golfers statistically associate with the benefits of the game of golf.
The Canadian golf industry must work together to find innovative ways to show golfers that the game and everything attached to the game is fun, enjoyable, social, challenging but winnable, inspiring, prideful and leading edge.
The game needs more engaged/loyal consumers – arguably more than it needs new participants
From a consumer behaviour perspective, success means getting golfers more engaged by playing more, following more, supporting more and spending more. The degree to which that measure goes up has all sorts of impact. The more engaged golfers are, the more they will spend.
I have little doubt that people within the industry would agree with most of those conclusions, but I also believe that they’ve agreed with them since before the study came out. It might be those familiar themes that make the industry cynical that the study will have any significant impact.
The current GNN Poll indicates that a whopping 81 per cent of respondents don’t believe the study will have any significant impact, while 19 per cent believe it will have an impact.
NAGA did put its economic impact study from 2009 to good use when it began lobbying provincial governments and the feds, so it’s premature to say that studies don’t have their place, but opening the eyes of consumers is different than opening the eyes of politicians.
When golf contributes to the economy through employment, taxes and charitable contributions, it’s bound to receive a warmer welcome from politicians than consumers who may be heavily indebted or seeing the price of their home dropping in a market such as Vancouver.
The reality is that the Canadian golf market is a moving target as you travel from coast to coast and community to community. One of the themes that came up when this study was unveiled was that there is no silver bullet to cure what ails golf.
The reason that people may not expect the survey to have much impact is the expectation that NAGA, and the associations that comprise it, will be able to come up with one-size-fits-all answers to the challenges facing golf when, at best, the survey is a snapshot of consumers.
Too often in this country, we tend to look to the national associations for answers and that’s not to downplay the role of programs such as Golf In Schools, CN Future Links or Take A Kid To the Course Week, among others.
Such programs are approaching the game at a different level, but chances are that consumers, and perspective golfers, in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver will differ completely from those in Red Deer, Alta., or Ingonish, N.S.
One community may have more ethnic diversity than another. Local economies are different. Some communities may have an aging population, while others are flush with young families. Home prices may be up in one centre, but dropping in others.
The natural tendency is to ask what NAGA is going to do with this study, but in the end, any significant change in fortunes will come at the golf course level by taking a snapshot of its own market and initiating change based on its own findings.
I would encourage readers to read through NAGA’s consumer study to see what you can take out of it, but in the end, it won’t be the people who brought you the study who initiate change.
It will be the person reading the study who can find more relevant answers based on his/her own market.
You can still cast your vote at the GNN Poll on the home page.
HUTCH VIDEO: The FedEx Cup concludes this week once the Tour Championship is completed and while everybody is looking for either Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods to win, it’s no slam dunk.
I talk about that topic in my latest video for the Toronto Sun. To watch that, click here.