How could golf be relevant to the Millennials?

The spending power of the Millennial demographic is increasing but too many golf clubs aren’t doing enough to attract them. Miklós Breitner looks at what golf clubs can do to engage and bring them into the fold.

There has never been any other generation in the past that has brought such a big change to the world economy as the Millennials. What makes the Millennials – born between 1980 and 2000 as the first truly digital generation – so different compared to previous generations?

A 2015 Inkling Millennial Report found that Millennials will account for 25 per cent of the UK population (17 million people) by 2019. In the UK in 2015, Millennials’ had an average disposal income of £25,378. The American Millennials’ spending power is $600 billion per year and is expected to reach $1.4 trillion in 2020, meaning that the Millennials (16-36 years old) have a significant purchasing power that is more than the previous generations’ when they were the same age.

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This generation assigns greater importance to personal experiences. They prefer to spend money on experiences rather than material goods, looking for unique shareable experiences in line with the philosophy of ‘Y.O.L.O’ (You Only Live Once), meaning that they want to be first-hand experiencers. This new generation’s three most popular pastime activities are eating out with friends (65 per cent), shopping (58 per cent) and travelling (20 per cent) and on average they save nine per cent of their income.

They are passionate about health and fitness and interested in outdoor sports. Millennials engage with brands more deeply through social networks and are heavy users of portable devices, so they are connected to brands wherever they go. Millennials are the heaviest users of social media and are 2.5 times more likely to be early adopters of new digital, social and mobile tools.
What should our media strategy be to engage Millennials?

Think discovery instead of interruption: Millennials are looking for interactive media solutions. Therefore, content driven campaigns will reach better results.

This generation visits fewer news portals, preferring social media platforms; 75 per cent of them have a social media presence. They prefer to stay updated about brands via social media. Social media is the area where many golf clubs fail to meet the expectations, not only of Millennials but also of other generations. Even if they have any social media presence they mistreat it or underestimate the business potential of it in many cases, partially due to lack of knowledge and resources.
Reach Millennials with a cross-media, cross-channel brand presence.

Millennials are smartphone heavy users. A report by ComScore found that 20 per cent use the internet only via mobile. Smartphone usage has become an integral part of their and our everyday life and this raises the following issues:

i. Is the golf club’s website mobile friendly? Can they book a tee time online?
ii. Does the golf club/resort offer mobile solutions (e.g. mobile apps) to book tee-time, organise game, checking-in or to shop online?
iii. Does the golf club provide free Wi-Fi for guests? This can help to promote your golf club by enabling them to share their experiences with their friends.
iv. Service and product personalisation also in the pro-shop by using wearables, beacons etc.

How could we make golf relevant to Millennials?

I believe there are elements and services in a golf club that can be adjusted to their expectations. They share with the members of previous generations similar general preferences for preferred amenities. However, you should prove to them that that your golf club is a place for quality time (e.g. networking events, fitness facilities). Providing free Wi-Fi is vital. For instance, Foxhills, and Farleigh have no restriction on mobile usage and even provide golf carts with GPS and mobile chargers.

To attract newcomers to golf, golf clubs should come up with ‘experiential’ packages. Experiences need to be ‘shop-able’. Show them what they would miss if they do not try golf; for this generation the fear of missing out on something is great, so don’t forget to invite them to your reward program as well. By understanding the importance of the foodie culture, we can attract more Millennials – who like to eat out with friends – to our restaurant.

Regardless of generations, we should not underestimate the importance of recommendations of peer group and family members. Therefore, golf clubs should better exploit social media and provide shareable experiences.