Have You Herd? – October

By: Rich Katz, Founder & Managing Director

Dear Friends,

We employ a terrific executive coach.  Many of her teachings hit me hard.  A couple of note:

  1. There are two principal behaviors you can control. The first is personal effort. The second are learnings through conversations; on that note, Bill Gates reportedly carries a card in his wallet, simply stating “they may be right.” Who’s to argue?
  1. Don’t predominantly think about outcomes. Focus on a data-driven strategy and detailed process yield positive outcomes.  Proper planning leads to crisp execution.

Good on Goods

The American sports and fitness products industry grew 2.4% in 2017, up from 2% in 2016 and 2015.  It also beat a 2.3% gain in the GDP, in line with low unemployment, healthy corporate earnings and improving consumer confidence the past 20 months.Client Updates, Rich Katz | Buffalo.Agency

That’s the positive scoop from the recently-released Sports Fitness Industry Association’s “State of the Industry” report.  Notwithstanding, there’s a cautious outlook among industry players struggling to adjust to the digital disruption of traditional retail.  Succeeding amid this new normal lies in direct, dynamic dialogues and connections via storytelling with consumers.

The transformation is key to omnichannel marketing and plays into 53.4% of companies reporting increases in profits and only 19.3% a decrease, a marked year-over-year improvement.  Looking ahead, 76% of brands predict rises in domestic sales.

Customization, speed to market and innovative technology are other leading strategies for growth while threats of tariffs and sports governing bodies’ interventions give reason for apprehension.

Peloton Psychology

The leading manufacturer of in-home exercise bikes wasn’t always hitting pay dirt.

Client Updates, Rich Katz | Buffalo.AgencyIn the early days, it charged $1,200 per unit and sales were gloomy.  Surveys showed consumers felt the bikes must be built poorly at that low price.  Shifting to $2,000-plus swayed thinking that Peloton made high-quality products.  Now the company is tracking to generate $800 million in revenue, double prior year.

Adding a major unexpected and unprecedented feature helped justify the higher cost.  We’re talking slick, internet-connected stationary bikes that stream thousands of live and pre-recorded SoulCycle-esque group classes into people’s homes.  An extension to this cool factor is a Peloton app with videos for spinning, running, strength training and stretching.

This combination has attracted cult followings, including Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Ellen DeGeneres, David Beckham and Sean “Diddy” Combs.  Not relegated to the rich and famous, aspirational “Middle America” finds Peloton’s $30 monthly membership fee to be a solid value proposition.  As such, the company makes money while it sleeps.

Peloton’s newer $4,000 internet-connected treadmill — a machine that surpasses the old-school rolling conveyor belt in favor of smoother running slats — is going gangbusters, tripling the company’s early sales estimates.

Stay tuned for the opening of six physical retail stores in London and four across Canada, not to mention an IPO in 2019 that’s reportedly in the making.

It all started with a pricing decision based on data, not gut or fear of charging too much.

Up for Grabs

Golf isn’t all local.

More than eight million golfers played 57.6 million rounds during business and leisure travel in 2017.  They account for a $20.5 billion U.S. golf travel industry covering playing fees and accommodations to travel costs, food and beverage, and entertainment expenses.

Equally important:  The future of golf travel is bright.  Latent demand – golfers who didn’t play while traveling, but are interested in doing so the coming year – reached four million.

Almost 40% of adult golfers took a trip with an overnight stay during which they played at least one round of golf.  More than 70% were leisure Client Updates, Rich Katz | Buffalo.Agencyrelated and roughly 30% on business travel.  The leisure share increased with age as retires and those with adult families typically have more time for golf.

Buddy trips, couples getaways, family vacations, business travel and solo journeys to bucket-list destinations showcase variety.  Don’t forget bachelor parties.

Golf travelers are more avid than golfers in general, averaging 26 annual rounds annually, 37% more than the 19-round average.

How’d they hear about places to play?  43% of leisure and 54% of business golf travelers from a website or mobile app; 42% and 41%, respectively, from personal recommendations; 44% and 20% from previous experiences; and 7% and 16% from social media.

We’re talking big money – 52% of golfers with household incomes of $100,000 or more took a trip in 2017 versus 35% with less than $100,000.  Moreover, golfers spent approximately $2,500 on 2.9 trips annually for about $850 per trip.  Private club members spent more than three times that of non-club members, averaging four trips annually totaling roughly $4,350.

The punchline:  While there’s a lot of golf travel to go around, owners and operators of golf courses, resorts and destinations must act with “survival-of-the-fittest” aggression.  If they’re not digitally inclined – with focus on feeder markets, paid and organic social media, search engine marketing, rankings and ratings, and public relations –it’s time to revisit the strategy to acquire affluent golf travelers.

Membership Driver

Almost 1,000 people move to Florida daily.  It is the second fastest-growing state in America and the third most populous behind California and Texas.

An eternal summer and no state income tax are primary drivers.  So is Florida’s bevy of golf courses, country clubs, resorts and communities.  Whether retiring, relocating or “snow-birding.” how do golfers start their searches and make heads and tails of the sunshine state’s 1,250-plus options?

Golf Life Navigators is the ultimate facilitator.  In roughly 10 minutes, golfers complete the company’s ProGuide3 questionnaire and are instantly provided with recommendations of where to live, belong and play.  The output aligns with their golf habits and desired budget, location, lifestyle, club culture and other variables.

Client Updates, Rich Katz | Buffalo.AgencyCall it eHarmony meets Zillow for golf.  Enabled by technology, matching and transitioning to appropriate private clubs and resorts in Florida has never been easier.  It’s also a boon for country club membership directors.  GLN delivers highly-qualified potential prospects – along with their motivations for moving – who have self-identified they are actively searching for the right club to join.

A staggeringly positive stat:  almost 45% of those who complete the automated questionnaire indicate they are prepared to transition to Florida within 12 months.  Again, this is qualified lead-generation gold – with strong conversion to buyers – for golf properties registered on the GLN platform.

Not to be outdone, GLN has replicated the model to Arizona and the Carolina states.

Upon the company’s launch in 2016, Buffalo was on the scene, developing and executing a brand strategy and identity, and marketing its offerings.  Today, Buffalo is heavily invested in GLN, running herd on public relations, social media, search engine marketing and a host of other strategic and tactical marketing elements.  Stay tuned for even greater expansion.

Round Up

We’ve been active.  Very active moving people which move needles.

  • Preventing Peril – Thor Guard and Buffalo recently extended its partnership. In addition to public relations, our team will now handle several creative functions.  Stay tuned for a new Thor Guard brand identity and website.  The decades-young company is entering an exciting time with the upcoming release of its new Thor Guard 360.  In addition to its legendary lightning prediction, TG360 incorporates Client Updates, Rich Katz | Buffalo.Agencyunprecedented tornado and heat index prediction technology.  Thor Guard warns people with up to 20 minutes advance notice while detection systems alert at first strike.  That’s a huge difference when lives are at risk.  Thousands of Thor Guard customers include the United States Golf Association, Marriott, Department of Homeland Security, NASA, American Airlines, UPS, Google, Rolls Royce, University of Michigan and Broward County (Florida).
  • Pride of Virginia – Since 2014, Buffalo and Magnolia Green – central Virginia’s premier multi-generational, active-lifestyle residential community outside Richmond, Virginia – have accomplished a lot together. The first nine holes of its championship, Nicklaus Design golf course opened, followed by the second nine soon thereafter.  Then it unveiled its 15,000-square-foot Craftsman-style clubhouse boasting a full-service restaurant, bar and golf pro shop.  All the excitement and a heap of Buffalo’s savvy marketing has made Magnolia Green the region’s best seller of townhomes, single-family and custom-built residences from $230,000 to $1 million-plus.  An array of parks, swimming pools, sports courts and playing fields create an all-inclusive life of luxury for empty nesters and families.  Heralded schools are vital to Magnolia Green ranking among the “100 Best Communities for Young People” by America’s Promise Alliance.