Here are my observations and news from the recent 2019 PGA Merchandise Show, the Major of golf business.
- Golf business feels more optimistic and upbeat too. Here’s good news from Golf Datatech:
- Total Golf Sales at Retail (Golf Equipment + Apparel) = $13.44B in US $; dead even with sales in ‘14, which totaled $13.44B.
- Worldwide Retail Equipment Sales = $8.41B in ‘18, down 3.5% from $8.72B in ‘14, but up 4.1% from ‘17 ($8.08B).
- The Four Largest Equipment Economies — US, Japan, Korea and UK had some of largest improvements vs. last year, +5.4%, +5.1%, +4.3%, and +4.5%,
respectively. Largest increase came in Germany (+5.9%), which remains the 8th largest equipment market.
- Some higher club price points are coming as well as continued innovations in ways to play and engage golf gain in popularity.
- Golf keeps attracting new products – it’s a passion, some say obsessive sport — so everyone wants in.
- Large classic brands were there in force, but Taylor Made stayed home. Challengers like Wilson and Tour Edge showed well especially at Demo Day.
- Smaller brands still see Show as the best opportunity to showcase on the floor as well as benefit from creative exposure beyond booths. Innovation zones and new product spotlights are valuable.
- Keeping booth simple, open and inviting – Seamus Golf and SWAG Golf – created such impact.
- Advance work with email, social or traditional PR channels is still working for drawing booth traffic.
- This is a fun sport and let’s keep it fun; so it’s inspiring to see brands so fired up like Bridgestone and Troon Golf and innovative newcomers mentioned later.
- Loved seeing superstars like Jim Nantz, Greg Norman, Karrie Webb, Annika Sorenstam, Luke Donald, John Daly and even Tar Heel coach Roy Williams adding excitement on the floor. So valuable to see them integrated with presentations on technology, social media and growth initiatives.
- Tech is everywhere, especially app mania with 18 Birdies, Golf Logix, Arccos and up and comers, but how many more things can I have in my golf bag? My caddies will kill me.
- Tech improvement and training for game is gaining acceptance. Wowed by Foresight Sports’ booth and Full Swing as they battle Trackman.
- Show organizer Reed enhances the show experience from apps to advance and real-time information.
- Traditional news conferences for brands seem less prevalent as some stage own events, booth parties and announce news socially and at Demo Day.
- Healthy attendance – 40,000 industry pros in attendance; 1,000 companies and 200 new ones. Like to see as shows like Interbike cancelled their 2019 SHOT show had record for exhibitors. More than 1,000 media from 23 countries reported on the show.
- Golf is steadying, iterating and retrenching according to trends report by Golf Magazine and Jon Last of Sports and Leisure Research Group did his annual state of the golf business 60% want to play more golf and like customization (short course and 9 holes), OEM brand loyalty is at a 6-year low, drivers reaching $500 threshold; people love ranges (Top Golf over 50 in US and Drive Shaft 15 standalone by 2020); membership golf retrenched at 39% increase (same as last 3 years). FYI, Top Golf is building an instruction business. Compelling.
- The Golf Channel (TGC) does a terrific job of pumping up the industry and reporting on Show exhibitors’ innovations, insights and ideas from large and small brands. TGC broadcast 14 hours live from show. All brand spokespersons will benefit from media training. Cardinal media rule — use 10 words first and 100 following words (10 = “this is”; 100 = “why, how and who”). Details in upcoming post. Brands will benefit from pitching products early and not on show floor unless eye-catching and novel.
- The We Are Golf (WAG) and lobbyist Forbes Tate say shutdown (happening then) is new DC dysfunctional order and team focusing on influence building in both houses, tax code, disaster relief, PHIT ACT and other initiatives. National Golf Day in DC is May 1.
- The first Global Golf Innovation Competition, a new “Shark Tank”-style competition for golf startups showcased ten golf innovators. Spain’s Fabio Peral and his startup company Golf Boo, an online travel platform, was named the winner of the inaugural competition. HYPE Sports Innovation, a golf incubator collaborated with PGA on this event that I hope grows in years ahead,
- So appreciate women’s initiatives like Elisha Gaudet’s #Women’s Golf Day mobilizing this valued and faithful and still untapped segment. Commendations to #inviteHER, a WAG and LPGA women’s network partnership encouraging golfers to invite a woman in your life to play golf.
- Co-located with the show was the inaugural Racquet & Paddle Sports Conference & Show Preview, This new event featured a pavilion of racquet, paddle and tennis vendors and organizations and two demonstration courts for a variety of racquet sports including tennis, pickleball, POP Tennis, platform tennis, badminton, Cardio Tennis and Padel.
- The National Golf Course Owners Association and the PGA agreed to a multi-year, strategic alliance to co-locate the annual Golf Business Conference with the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, beginning in 2020. Many attendees and exhibitors will welcome this efficient and economical solution.
- Demo Day was strong as ever. Good lines to demo new offerings like Titleist’s new ProV1 golf balls; PING’s G410 drivers/woods; Callaway’s Epic Flash Driver; Cobra’s Speedback Driver; Odyssey’s Stroke Lab putters and Bridgestone’s E12 golf balls and many others.
- Love “challenger” brands like Wilson touting new signing Gary Woodland (a Wilson “athlete”) and Tour Edge attracting attention as well as new emerging products Forward Golf grips and Strike Spray by swing speed innovator Super Speed Golf. SeeMore putters released its first TV ad to promote its RSTech.
- Innovations awards went to VESSEL – luxurious golf bags https://vesselbags.com/; Acu-Strike Golf – golf impact mats marking club path in the impact zone https://acustrikegolf.com/ and Fourball – a simple mobile app to meet golfers around you http://www.fourballapp.com/ and Guided Knowledge (The Pinnacle Award – Best in Show) – digital coaching tools providing a brand new view of the player’s unique swing signature http://www.guidedknowledge.com/
- Golf just posted on their favorite things from the Show.
My hunt through the aisles found these new and emerging products.
- Seamus Golf’s booth was buzzing and bursting at the seams.
- Swing Shade is exactly what it sounds like — a shade that comes off a stand for lessons or practice.
- FlagD is a different, more accurate and reliable device to track distances on the driving range.
- SWAG Golf is a bold entry in putter and putter headcover (clever, outrageous – like deep dish cover).
- Gelliflex is new in the health and wellness space. Its Abacus relieves muscle sores.
- Operations 36 is a favorite exhibitor. Their system is playing the course to shoot 36 from progressively longer distances. Terrific grow game effort and new revenue for teachers.
- PUTTout is a putter trainer (that I bought). It allows you to practice and have the ball come right back to you so you can putt continuously and without bending over (that simple).
- StarBornSkirts, an athletic and performance skirt for golf and tennis featuring shorts underneath the skirt for comfort
Like more details, contact me at email@example.com.
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Happy Golf Season. Kevin Donnellon 312.560.8065 www.macalicomm.com
P.S. Thanks to Sherry Major, show communications guru and the entire Show team for hard work and support.
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