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PGA golf player and coach on attracting multiple demographics

When your business reaches a stage where it make sense to appeal to multiple demographics, there are a few things to consider.
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For starters, does your brand offering/ product mesh with the demographics you choose to work with? A clothing company can branch off to women and men’s clothing. But can a toy business close the divide between a child and someone at retirement age?

Pinpointing a connection between what you offer and the demographics you hope to involve, is a key process. According to Birchwood Park coach and PGA player James McGilvray, the jigsaw pieces have to fall into place.

Never force incompatible edges together. You’ll have to get a new set as the pieces will be broken or fail to break apart in your effort to start from scratch  – James McGilvray

Birchwood Park is at the forefront of pushing junior golf, which is intriguing as the game was once the preserve of the older generation. It has now expanded to encompass everyone. Handicapping systems allow players of all ages and standards to compete against one another.

Likewise, the move came off the back of Birchwood’s foray into leisure, transitioning it from a golf facility to a country club. To sustain junior numbers there are various membership options, as well a progressive payment structure as they get older.

It’s an escalator structure of sorts, whereby the offering changes over time – much like J.K Rowling’s depth of writing and darker content “grew up” with the audience that read the first book upon its release. This method may not work for everyone, but golf lends itself well to this type of approach. How will you bridge the gap?

McGilvray reiterates that knowing your customer is of the utmost importance. Not all demographics think the same way – a concept particularly true when we look at age.

“Coaching children is different to coaching adults,” he opined. “Children are like sponges, they soak up information whilst adults can only deal with one thought at a time. Children are a blank canvas usually without any physical limitations. Adults tend to be the exact opposite because of work or injuries.

“Our main focus for coaching children was how we were going to keep them interested whilst developing their skills,” McGilvray said. “This may not necessarily be golf skills but their hand-eye co-ordination. Children’s attention spans are limited so we use competitions to keep them interested. 

“Incentives are always important  – think sweets, certificates or medals.That may not be the best way to encourage adults to play the game. Not only that, no matter the age, no one is the same and we need to employ various teaching styles and equipment to suit each individual player and their golf swing.


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It is an important dose of reality. And as times change, those individuals will also change. They’ll become more tech-savvy, start living longer and their personalities and attitudes alter depending on what happens in the economy or their daily lives. That’s the hard part of attracting multiple demographics.

“The scale is constantly tipping in who you need to adapt your offering for,” McGilvray explained. “If you expanded your business in this way, then you have the resources to do it. If you struggle to keep pace with your customers, then targeting one demographic is the right move for you. Maybe bench it for a later date.”

There’s a method that could help you better adapt: creating a persona. What demographics do you have? What are their lives like and will will future trends change their journey and thought processes? 

Increasing pressure from the office pushing people to find a form of relaxation, for example. Some want to enjoy time with their family, but feel you need to be able to play the game together to gain maximum enjoyment. Taking our current penchant for deflation when it comes to failure, is something else to consider.

“Tasks we set out need to have a balance of being achievable to ensure they don’t become demotivated by failure,” McGilvray said. “At the same time the task needs to be challenging, so there is a fine line between the two. You want them to have fun but take the coaching lesson seriously.”

Attracting multiple demographics will be an ever-evolving puzzle. But once you crack the code, you’ll have successfully ticked one of the boxes to business growth.

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About Author

Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is a senior reporter at Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

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