MARKETING GOLF BRANDS TO
GENERATION Z

JANUARY 2022 UPDATE


4 STRATEGIES TO BUILD BRAND RELATIONSHIPS
WITH A GROWING GENERATION OF YOUNG GOLFERS

WHY WE WROTE THIS REPORT

Golf equipment and apparel brands have a tremendous opportunity to build on momentum with Generation Z (born 1997-2012).

Sparked by the Covid 19 pandemic, Gen Z participation in the sport is booming. In 2020, the number of junior players (age 6-17) grew 24%. To put that in perspective, 2020 saw the biggest gain in youth golfers since Tiger’s 1997 Masters win.

2021 data is still being gathered by the National Golf Foundation. But early estimates are showing that the total number of rounds played will surpass 2020 by 4 to 5%! Generation Z certainly played a significant role in this growth.

But wait, there's more good news. The cultural conversation about golf has continued to evolve in a positive way. Our analysis of media coverage of golf indicates a decline in the number of negative articles from the top media outlets. Specifically, the previously routine portrayals of golf as exclusionary and backward, have all but disappeared over the last couple years. We think this sunnier media context will make it easier for golf brands to attract brand-savvy teens.

Ultimately, we're optimistic about the prospects to grow lasting brand relationships with the youngest generation of golfers. We hope you find the following recommended marketing strategies useful and inspiring.

  • PLEASE NOTE:
  • The following data and recommendations are the result of distilling thousands of pages of published articles, trend reports and media content. Sources are noted throughout.
  • Download the report: There's no form to fill out — it's one click away.
  • Contact: If you would like to discuss any of the topics further, please contact Tom Neveril at tom@storybrandconsulting.com.
  • More insights are coming soon: Lastly, please contact us to receive future reports and articles as soon as they're published.

IN THE LAST FEW YEARS...

THE NEWS MEDIA'S
NARRATIVE ABOUT GOLF
HAS CHANGED

PRIOR TO 2020, ARTICLES ABOUT GOLF TOLD THE SAME OLD STORY; IT'S EXCLUSIONARY AND BACKWARD

SO, NEGATIVE GOLF COVERAGE WAS UNAVOIDABLE FOR GEN Z

59% OF GEN Z RANKED SOCIAL MEDIA
THEIR TOP NEWS SOURCE
IN 2019
(LEADING ALL SOURCES)

85% OF THE TOP 40 MOST ENGAGED ARTICLES
ABOUT “GOLF” WERE ACTUALLY ABOUT
PRESIDENT TRUMP AND NEGATIVE
(DURING A 12 MONTH PERIOD, 2019-2020)

BUT IN 2020,
AMID GOLF’S GROWING POPULARITY
COVERAGE TURNED POSITIVE

AND THIS CONTINUED INTO 2021

GEN Z IS LOOKING FOR POSITIVE SOCIAL EXPERIENCES

4 STRATEGIES TO BUILD BRAND RELATIONSHIPS WITH A GROWING GENERATION OF YOUNG GOLFERS


Awareness


Consideration


Purchase


Loyalty

1. BUILD AWARENESS BY
CONSISTENTLY SUPPORTING
A SOCIAL VALUE

  • How golf brands can support social values:
        • Demonstrate support of social values –not divisive political positions. This will attract Gen Z far more than competitors who merely offer quality products. Participation in the larger cultural conversation will counter media portrayals of the sport as out-of-touch.
        • Collaborate with brands from different categories in support of shared values. Golf brands that do so will be perceived as contemporary.
        • Be consistent with support for specific social values. Gen Z will proudly wear brands when they're widely perceived as consistent and authentic.

GEN Z IS LOOKING FOR
POSITIVE SOCIAL EXPERIENCES

85% OF GEN Z SAYS THAT ALL BRANDS SHOULD
DO SOME SORT OF SOCIAL GOOD / CHARITABLE WORK

81% OF 18-24 YEAR OLDS SAY SOCIAL IMPACT/ SUSTAINABILITY IS IMPORTANT
in their decision to purchase apparel and footwear. That number is well above older demographics, which on average registered at 62%.

A LEADING EXAMPLE OF SUPPORTING SOCIAL VALUES:

GEN Z RANKS THE NORTH FACE #1 BRAND FOR OUTERWEAR APPAREL*

 

 

THE NORTH FACE ACTIVELY SUPPORTS THE VALUES STATED IN THE COMPANY MISSION:

"The North Face® fundamental mission remains unchanged since 1966: Provide the best gear for our athletes and the modern-day explorer, support the preservation of the outdoors, and inspire a global movement of exploration." **

Sustainability / Preservation initiatives:

  • Encouraging the public to drop off unwanted clothing and footwear at The North Face stores to receive a 10% discount through the Clothes the Loop program
  • Recycling with The North Face Renewed --a program that resells refurbished clothing donated by previous owners
  • Advocating for protection of tribal lands including Bears Ears and Cedar Mesa

Encouraging Exploration initiatives:

  • Funding and expanding a North Face female exploration grants program
  • Launching Live Your Dream Grant and Explore Fund Grant programs to create access and drive universal participation in outdoor activities
  • Sponsoring a program to make climbing gyms across the U.S. accessible to people with physical disabilities

2. ENCOURAGE CONSIDERATION BY
USING A SEAMLESS, BRANDED
OMNICHANNEL APPROACH

How golf brands can adopt a more omnichannel approach:

  • Offer in-store and online experiences to reflect and complement each other. Interaction in either realm should unlock exclusives and promotions that are accessible across all channels.
  • Provide the capability to shop anywhere and have the product show up anywhere.
  • Enable interaction with customer service using private social messaging apps.
  • Make smartphone camera/video capabilities more helpful at retail. For example, (QR) code scanning could immediately be stored in account history. Scanning could also retrieve inventory information, feedback forms, customer service functions, product suggestions, and augmented reality (AR) functionality for product fitting.
  • [Amazon's "in-Store Code" screenshot, accessed January 2022]
    For Gen Z, Amazon is the 3rd favorite brand behind Nike and Apple., according to a Statista survey, June 2021.

GEN Z EXPECTS TO BROWSE WITH THEIR PHONE
AND PURCHASE OR PICK-UP IN-STORE

74% OF GEN Z RATED AMAZON THEIR PREFERRED SHOPPING CHANNEL
AMAZON WAS ALSO RATED
34% MOST LIKELY PLACE TO RESEARCH A PRODUCT
38% MOST LIKELY PLACE TO MAKE A PURCHASE

"GEN Z IS A TRULY OMNICHANNEL GENERATION...

...shopping wherever best suits them in the moment and without preference as to the vehicle they use to find what they want. They are 56% more likely to have shopped for fashion in-store over the last three months and 38% more likely to have shopped online in the same timeframe."
[compared to all shoppers]

AN EXAMPLE OF SEAMLESS OMNICHANNEL MARKETING:

NIKE IS THE MOST POPULAR BRAND
AMONG GEN Z CONSUMERS
IN THE US (JUNE 2021)*

NIKE’S OMNICHANNEL EXPERIENCE:

  • Nike store network recognizes shoppers upon entering, connects via in-store wifi.
  • Users scan barcodes for product (size, color, style) availability in their area and check out without waiting in line.
  • Users reserve products that can be retrieved from a store locker to try on before buying.

3. MOTIVATE PURCHASES BY PERSONALIZING
THE PRODUCTS AND USAGE EXPERIENCE

How golf brands can personalize:

  • Enhance personalization through apps, allowing customers to establish virtual closets/lockers, swipe to rate products, track when items have been worn, take quizzes about preferences and make AI-driven outfit/gear suggestions.
  • Continue expanding customer input on colors and elements of design, for custom and made-to-order products.
  • Follow the lead of other successful Gen Z brands and offer limited / exclusive product drops.
  • Nomad Customs on Instagram, accessed August, 2020]

    Roly Padron has become the go-to-guy for pro golfers to get their shoes customized.

GEN Z AND MILLENNIALS WANT PERSONALIZATION AND CUSTOMIZATION

78% OF 13-36-YEAR-OLDS SAY THEY
LIKE TO DRESS IN THEIR
OWN UNIQUE STYLE

THE GOLF
CUSTOMIZATION TREND
IS BOOMING

“The trend toward customized wedges, putters, even irons and woods has been growing for years. TaylorMade and Callaway have created custom shops to personalize and modify their clubs, while smaller producers have leveraged social media to become the golf equivalent of boutique winemakers: expensive, sought-after and elusive."

A LEADING EXAMPLE OF PERSONALIZATION:

GEN Z IS LIKELY TO EMBRACE PERSONAL STYLING BRAND STITCH FIX

STITCH FIX PERSONALIZES APPAREL WITH DATA:

  • Customers fill out a Style Profile, specifying their measured sizes, favorite/rejected styles and fit preferences.
  • "Trending for You” is a tool that gives customers targeted looks based on their style profiles, rather than what they’ve purchased.
  • “Shop Your Looks” will suggest items that "go" with a piece of clothing bought through Stitch Fix.
  • “Style Shuffle” shows customers prospective products one at a time and lets them vote on each.
  • Stylists review customers’ social media and Pinterest boards, allowing customers to add photos of fashion looks that they like.

4. BUILD LOYALTY BY DESIGNING COMFORT
THROUGHOUT THE SHOPPING
AND USAGE EXPERIENCE

How golf brands can design comfort:

  • Emphasize the enjoyment that comes with being comfortable throughout the golf experience.
  • Develop a wide array of styles and designs that are comfortable for different body sizes. Brands should avoid designing women’s products by applying a “shrink-it and pink-it” approach. Instead, they should offer more custom fit options, particularly in footwear.
  • Offer more casual apparel styles, that can be worn comfortably in non-golf settings.
  • Provide shopping and physical retail experiences that emphasize customer comfort, privacy and security.

GEN Z LIVES IN COMFORTABLE CLOTHES:

AN EXAMPLE OF COMFORTABLE DESIGNS:

GEN Z IS LIKELY TO EMBRACE THE COMFORTABLE 'VIBE' OFFERED BY TRAVIS MATHEW,
AT A MORE ACCESSIBLE PRICE POINT

TRAVIS MATHEW’S COMFORTABLE “SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA STYLE”

  • All apparel and footwear features comfortable fabrics and fits.
  • Product styles are versatile for wear on or off the golf course.
  • Retail stores have comfortable seating (and sometimes bar) areas, several large TV screens, comfortable fitting rooms.
  • Retail stores encourage hanging out with games including Ping Pong, arcade console games and Pop-A-Shot (varying by location.

ASSESS YOUR BRAND’S CURRENT GEN Z STRATEGY

WITH THE FOLLOWING CHECK LIST

The company behind the brand...


  • Has a publicly-available, written vision/mission that explains how the company believes the world can be a better place for its customers.
  • Invests resources in specific efforts designed to make the world a better place.
  • Has issued press releases, engaged in PR or launched marketing campaigns to publicize efforts / investments.

  • Provides online services or mobile tools (or both) that unlock additional benefits or services while in-store (e.g. QR code scanning).
  • Provides in-store experiences that unlock benefits or services while online (e.g., onsite check-ins for special access, rewards, etc.)
  • Provides customers with ability to interact with customer service using private social messaging apps.

  • Provides customers with the ability to create accounts that track all of their brand interactions, purchases, etc.
  • Provides customers with the ability to contribute to the design of products and / or personalize the ones they purchase.
  • Gathers detailed feedback on product preferences while shopping and detailed feedback on purchased products.

  • Designs products with innovative materials and fitting technology to provide golfers with comfort on par with the best brands.
  • Provides a shopping experience both online and in-store is that is easy, comfortable, safe and respects privacy.
  • Respects Gen Z’s experiential approach to golf, where being comfortable and having a friendly competition are the top priorities.

How many of these are true for your company?
Would your colleagues have the same answers?
Most importantly, would your Gen Z customers agree with your assessment?

THANK YOU