Report proclaims ‘edgier players’ the future of golf marketing

9 April 2015 | Posted in Notes & Insights | By Ross Jones-Davies | Contact the author

Report proclaims ‘edgier players’ the future of golf marketing

A ‘new breed of exciting and edgier players’ are coming to the fore as the most marketable forces in golf, according to a new report compiled by sports marketing research company Repucom.

Released ahead of this year’s Masters, which commences on Thursday at Augusta National, the report states that the likes of world number one Rory McIlroy and 21-year-old world number four Jordan Spieth front a generation of young players who “are starting to attract new, younger audiences” to the game of golf, with Tiger Woods’ dominance of the sport a thing of the past.

The combination of the Masters’ unrivalled appeal among young golf fans and the emergence of young talents such as McIlroy and Spieth makes for a ‘demographically powerful platform for both fans and sponsors’, say Repucom. The Masters is the most viewed golf tournament in the world, outperforming golf’s other three major championship events in terms of its appeal among younger viewers.

“This exciting generational shift in the sport, combined with the changing landscape in golf’s marketability means the majors will, this year, play an even greater role in shaping who brands align themselves to,” said Paul Smith, chief executive at Repucom.

“There are more players in the mix vying for that number one spot and many of them are attracting younger audiences which remain the lifeblood of any sports fan base.”

McIlroy, considered by many to be the most marketable golfer on the planet, is chasing a career grand slam at Augusta this week.

Repucom data reveals that McIlroy is the world’s best known player under the age of 30, with over a third of people knowing of him globally, and 45 per cent knowing him in the US alone. According to the report, 85 per cent of the people who know McIlroy in the US find him an appealing figure.

Repucom’s report compiled data on McIlroy’s image and according to the survey, over 69 per cent of people who know of the Northern Irishman will listen to what he has to say in the media - a crucial asset for sponsors who wish to align themselves with endorsers who can engage with fans, as well as win majors.

McIlroy, considered by many to be the most marketable golfer on the planet, signed a ten-year sponsorship deal with Nike in 2013 believed to be worth as much as UK£130 million. He has also signed lucrative agreements with audio brand Bose and watchmaker Omega.

Repucom’s report also makes reference to EA Sports’s decision to utilise McIlroy’s status as a marketing tool by making him the new face of its popular PGA Tour golf video game. McIlroy, who is chasing a career grand slam at Augusta this week, recently replaced Tiger Woods, whose form has dipped along with his image in recent years, on the game’s cover.

Jordan Spieth, meanwhile, is known by just under 20 per cent of the US population, according to the report. Although this stat is significantly lower than that of McIlroy, Spieth still overshadows his elder compatriot Phil Mickelson in terms of attracting younger audiences.

Repucom’s report suggests Jordan Spieth is one of the biggest draws for young fans.

Repucom’s report found that viewers who are looking forward to watching Mickelson play are far less likely to be of Millennial age (between 18 and 34), whereas this age group is the biggest when it comes to those looking forward to following Spieth.

Dallas-born Spieth finished second behind Bubba Watson at last year’s Masters, a result that helped propel the youngster into the wider US consciousness. Ranked 19th in SportsPro’s 2014 list of the world’s 50 most marketable athletes, he has already signed endorsements with Under Armour, Rolex, AT&T, Titleist, Netjets, SuperStroke, Perfect Sense Digital and BioSteel.

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