The 62nd PGA Merchandise Show was recently held in Orlando. While the beer industry has two major shows a year, the NBWA and the Craft Brewers Conference, and they both have great attendance, the PGA show has over 10 miles of displays and thousands of attendees.
During the show there was an interview with the CEO of Troon Golf, a management company that owns a number of worldwide golf properties including private clubs, golf resorts and even public golf courses. He was asked how Troon Golf dealt with the recent recession. The CEO mentioned that Troon Golf was hit hard in Q4 of 2008, but in recent years there has been an uptick in returning golfers. He also commented on the differences between what the boomer generation golfers looked for verses what is desired by the millennials golfer, duly noting the challenge is to market to both generations.
Boomer golfers are interested in the course they will play and the condition of that course, and as noted by the Troon Golf CEO, boomers are by far more competitive. Millennials, on the other hand, were more interested in who they were playing with, not the course or its condition. Millennials wanted a more social experience and expressed interested in the golf course having a great bar and good music to enjoy after their golf round.
Top Golf, a multi-level golf driving range which provides the player with the opportunity to hit computer-chipped golf balls into targets, is in a market similar to Troon Golf. Top Golf also offers an upscale sports bar serving a wide variety of craft beers, complete with HD TVs, games and a typical sports bar environment.
Top Golf, which was conceived in Dallas, has taken off in recent years and will open nine more locations throughout the country in 2015. It is obvious that Top Golf is more about the social experience than golf which makes the business model a top seller for Millennials.
Much has been written about ABIs advertising for the SuperBowl. The Brewed the Hard Way ad has caused industry-wide uproar. The ad is still showing and initial results indicate that Bud is up in sales. By the time you read this, final statistics will be released from the Super Bowl and most certainly, ABI will be highly ranked. Part of ABI’s marketing strategy was to host Bud Light Parties in Colorado ski towns or on cruise ships, with the number of participants approaching 1,000 Millennials and two million hits on YouTube.
What will not to be measured is what occurred during the game at thousands of small craft breweries and bars around the country. Many were serving their products and entertaining all of their local millennial customers who are there watching the game. Such customers were with their friends, family and their local craft brewers. One might call this the “personification of social media.”
ABI will be spending millions in social media but based on what company showed and the comments made, we might have seen the end of the Clydesdale feel-good Budweiser ads. So maybe now the local craft brewer is simply saying,” I drank beer and had a great year!”