This is the 2nd of a 3 week series of posts on Women in Golf by Jim Lee of BC Golf.
Probably most women would agree that most men don’t know what turns women on. In my case its (mostly) true, but it depends if you are asking my wife. So I’m going to restrict my comments in this blog to golf – or more precisely – why women and men play golf and what they get from participating in the game.
If you are going to market any product or service to people, its important to understand the reasons for purchasing the product. For most products, its pretty simple – its a cleaning product, personal hygiene or foods. My background is in tourism, and developing an understanding of what makes your destination attractive or unique and what the benefits are to an individual traveling there is critical to growing your market. The same is true for golf.
To an individual experiencing the game for the first time – say on television – some of the benefits are apparent. The settings are often stunning, with beautiful landscaping and of course and it all takes place outdoors. Although not as apparent, it also requires considerable walking. On the flip side, as anyone watching a tournament can attest to, it takes time, appears expensive, and requires considerable skill. So in developing someone’s interest in golf, there are both positive’s and negatives to reconcile.
There are also intrinsic benefits that aren’t immediately identifiable. The combination of external and internal benefits are what motivates men and women to take up and stay with the game.
So returning to my original thought – what turns women (and men in comparison) on to golf? If we know this, then it helps us to understand how we might convince more women to take up the game.
The following chart was developed from a survey conducted in April 2013 with members of British Columbia Golf. The sample size was 877. One of the questions asked related to the important factors influencing golf participation. While this is a biased sample, in that all respondents were Core golfers, it provides some indications of the motivations to golf that may be applied to non-golfers. The survey included a long list of items that may influence participation.
It turns out that the factors which women feel are important are much the same as what men feel are important.
The top motivating factors for women are shown at the bottom of this list and fall into 4 categories:
• Health and wellness – spending time outdoors and getting exercise.
• Self-satisfaction – challenge of the game, feeling you get when you hit a good shot.
• Socialization – spending time with family and friends
• Intrinsic – values of the game
We have to remember that this is a biased sample, as it includes women who have played the game for some time, and take it seriously. Unfortunately, we don’t have similar information from new golfers. Still, we can take some useful things from this to apply to marketing programs for new women golfers.
The decline in Infrequent women golfers could be due to a number of reasons, but the fact that they have tried the game, and not continued or become more engaged, suggest they are not getting what they want from participation. Anecdotally, it has been suggested that the game is too hard, is difficult to excel at and takes too much time.
Absent other research, this suggests that marketing programs for new women golfers should focus on the health aspects (being outdoors and getting exercise) and socialization (meeting new people and playing with friends).
While marketing programs will need to get new golfers to try the game once, the key will be to get them to continue in the game long enough to meet their other needs. After an 8 or 10 week program, they should be able to develop a sufficient skill set to allow them to feel better about themselves as golfers, realize the health benefits and meet new people. The key is to increase their engagement in the sport and provide demonstrable benefits from their investment in time and money.