Lists Golfers May Be Hole-in-One Targets (862 words)
By Kate Mason
Imagine a typical American golfer. Do you picture an older gentleman playing a pristine, private course, donning plaid pants, while deepening his perpetual, George Hamilton-inspired tan? If so, think again.
Who They Are
Perhaps surprisingly, the average age of the some 26.4 million U.S. golf enthusiasts is 39 years, and 75 percent of active golfers play on public, not private, courses. "There is a perception that golf has been a game for older, retired men," says Judy Thompson, director of media relations, National Golf Foundation. "But while the typical golfer is male, the average age has been fairly young all along."
What makes this demographic so desirable, however, is that its youth is often paired with affluence. "Golf is a pretty expensive game," explains Doug Sauerhaft, director of marketing for Mal Dunn Associates, a national list services and rental firm. "These golfers may not be playing at country clubs, but they certainly have money—they have disposable incomes, they pay over $1,000 for a set of clubs, and will often pay between $130 and $140 for a round of golf."
Golfers represent not only an affluent demographic, but a well-educated and discriminating one as well. Jennifer Shultz, promotional director for Golf Digest magazine, compares the publication's subscriber list to the those of Forbes, Fortune and Business Week. "We essentially have the same demographic, so it's not a problem getting companies like, for example, IBM, to realize that golfers are a great and valuable market." Shultz adds that more than a hundred companies currently rent subscriber lists from the Golf Company, which includes Golf Digest, Golf For Women, Golf World and Golf World Business.
WHAT THEY BUY
Golfers spend substantial amounts of money on purchases such as clubs, sportswear and course fees. According to Steve Jones, vice president of direct marketing for Golfsmith, a multi-channel retailer of golf products, "The golfer is unique in that he wants anything new that he thinks can improve his game, whether it's a new club or the latest training aid."
The more affluent end of the golfers' market tend to shop online or through print catalogs, Jones asserts, while the younger and less affluent tend to go more for the retail purchase.
In addition to golf products and services, this demographic also responds to offers for credit cards and financial services. For example, among the direct mail offers reaching the PGA Tour Partners Club subscriber file—comprised of 94 percent middle-aged males with incomes close to $100,000—are co-branded credit cards including the Capital One Famous Golf Holes credit card, the Citibank Select Jack Nicklaus credit card, and the MBNA Canada Golf credit card.
This group is also targeted for specialty items such as wines and vineyard tours, as well as fund-raising efforts for the American Lung Association, the U.S. Golf Association and the Arnold Palmer Hospital. Travel and vacation offers also work well, including couples' getaways to golf resorts.
the media mix
While traditional direct mail campaigns work best for this group, marketers may also want to consider using online marketing. "Major companies [in general] seem to be using e-mail marketing more and more," claims Lesa Fuller, list manager for Marketing Direct Associates. "E-mail is hot. And companies that have used or tested e-mail marketing with us are almost always satisfied with the results."
New media outlets may seem the ideal vehicle for marketers to reach golfers, particularly younger players. But while golf phenom Tiger Woods has inspired youths to pick up the clubs—3 million beginners golfed for the first time last year alone—marketing to the junior segment isn't likely to prove viable. "A lot of younger players are getting started," admits Sauerhaft. "But really, they're still five to 10 years away from having any real money to spend."
Women golfers, however, may be a segment to watch. Although females make up only 20 percent of the U. S. golfing population, this segment has grown 11 percent in the past 14 years. Currently, 5.1 million U.S. women golfers spend more than $6 billion on golf products and playing fees. With an average age of 42 and an average household income of $70,000, this demographic may become as valuable as its male counterpart.
Finally, Shultz recommends a no-fail marketing approach for attracting golfers, who are not only passionate about golf, but often subscribe to various print and online magazines, and attend golf tournaments and events. "Many golfers have an emotional attachment to the game, and it is very much a part of their lives," says Shultz. "Marketers who can align themselves with golf products or giveaways ... well, doing that is a guaranteed hole in one."
Here is a sampling of what's available:
Golf Digest: 1,350,000 affluent and well-educated magazine subscribers. Price: $100/M. Contact: Novus Marketing, (914) 741-1171.
"Let's Play Golf" Opt-In : 712,000 golfers who purchase golf-related items online. Price: $180/M. Contact: Marketing Direct Assoc., (914) 277-5558.
Marketshare Golfers: 3,771,000 avid golfers who have reponded to golf magazines and purchased golf items by mail. Price: $80/M. Contact: Mal Dunn Associates, (914) 277-5558.
Mastergrip Golf Product Buyers: 1,000,000 affluent and avid golfers who order top-of-the-line golf products via direct mail. Price: $95/M. Contact: List Services, (203) 743-2600.