Page 18 - GBC Eng winter 2021
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  Source: Back-To -Normal Barometer, August 16, 2021
Golf Business Canada
evidence that we have made strong progress towards the objec- tive of evolving the golf experi- ence and availing it to a wider audience. Our work is far from done here, if it is our objective to significantly grow participation. But the modicum of success that we have had, amplified by the pandemic, further illustrates that we have a starker strategic decision to make, if we conclude that we can’t be all things to all people.
And therein lies, what we believe will be one of the greatest post pandemic challenges for golf operations and marketing. Who do we want to be both collectively and in our business operations, amidst a society and leisure industry that continues to move the goal posts on recognizing and catering to the desires of “the individual” rather than a collec- tive mass? The real underlying answer may not be as straightfor- ward as one may wish to believe.
The ability for us as researchers to qualitatively probe and utilize projective techniques to get at the essence of consumer motivations has yielded dichotomous and sometimes personally alarming perspectives on what one desires from their golf experience, in ways that many likely wouldn’t feel comfortable articulating in public. To again reference the Goldilocks
metaphor, what is too hot for one, may be too cold for another. For those lauding the proliferation of “kinder and gentler” golf experienc- es, there are others deeply concerned about how the industry needs to simultaneously maintain the essence and values that were the foundations of golf. The concept of “golf as an oasis” is often cemented in anostalgicandchangeresistantrecol- lection of a bygone and better day.
So, can we have our cake and eat it too? Again that strikes me as one of the most important questions that any golf business needs to confront. To answer it appropriately requires long hard thought, and ideally the elements of formal strategic planning. It entails getting a strong and accurate, research driven perspective of who your current customers are. How satis- fied are they and what do they desire and need from you? It requires understanding how that customer composition may or may not vary from those of your compet- itive set...not just within the golf space but defined more broadly in how people choose to spend their leisure time and discretionary income. It requires understanding the foundational elements of your existing brand and product offering and how those can be differentiated from the competition in ways that meet desired needs. Only after
procuring these insights can you determine what you want to be, what you want to offer and who your likely targets are.
The pandemic will end. Some form of a new normalcy will continue to emerge, and the broader competitive set of leisure activities will also continue to evolve and morph in ways that will ultimately test the resolve of the roughly 5 million more casually engaged and less committed Canadian golfers.
Only 30 months ago, the golf industry was consolidating. Market share battles were intensifying and our research demonstrated that there may not have been enough pieces of pie to slice up for everyone. Seminal events like pandemics may make it easy to forget those times. When things are good, it can be easy to eschew the need to avoid compla- cency. But, as one who has studied the foundations of consumer loyalty throughout my career, these are the best times to take a deeper and more reflective look...and to make sure that the porridge (or is it poutine?) is just right.
Golf Business Canada

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