Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gen Z Needs our Love & Understanding

I was at a Tennis Industry Association (TIA) conference earlier this week and they hosted a wonderful seminar led by Gary Colen of AMP Agency on how to understand and engage Generation Z (loosely defined as youth born between 1995-present).

I’m not sure if the golf industry has looked hard at this generation, but if so, I haven’t seen it.  There was an interesting panel discussion on Millennials at the PGA Show but I’d argue that capturing Gen Z is even more important.

Why?  Because amidst all the talk about growing the game, a critical component of any growth strategy needs to focus on inclusion paths for these folks who are 0-18 years old.  This will not be easy.  The reality is that they think much differently than the Baby Boomers who mostly control the golf industry, and they’re even quite different from someone like myself who walks the line between being a Gen X’er and Millennial.  These are folks who were born into an Internet/smartphone/social media world and this has widespread effects on their sense of identity and approach to life (i.e. consumer behavior).

Therefore, I wanted to pass along the many notes I took during the TIA seminar.  I hope you find them useful.

Gen Z Notes – 2.11.14


-       Born 1995-Present, encompasses all kids in high school and younger
-       23 Million in U.S. but growing rapidly… expected to surpass Millennials in sheer population, which is amazing considering Millennials blew away their predecessors (Gen X) by 71 million to 41 million
-       Highly inactive – 30% of kids in U.S. are obese, 50% are overweight
-       50% of youth don’t associate sports with their identities, and 70% drop out of sports altogether by the age of 13
-       They’re accustomed to “relationship parenting” which leads to ambivalence towards authority but also a family-first mentality
-       They have powerful control over their parents’ spending habits
-       They’re much more motivated by achievement than money – e.g. would rather make $30k/year and do something meaningful to them than make $60k doing something they felt was meaningless
-       With their lives on display for the world to see, they have a hard time developing their ethos from within and rely heavily on third party sources for personal identity generation
-       They are captivated by great stories
-       Their social graph is not much different than their elders, it’s just that everything is now done online – their Instagram = our photo album, their Spotify = our mixed tapes, their Tubmlr = our diary, etc.
-       Their time is precious and highly defragmented – e.g. while a Gen X’er may look at a Gen Z who has sat on the couch for an hour and wonder “how can they be so lazy?,” the Gen Z’er  has been super busy in their mind having watched videos on Vine, uploaded photos to Instagram, played a few games, texted their friends, etc.

How to connect/engage with a Gen Z’er:

-       Be authentic – while they have a global view, they care about local impact
-       Provide shared experiences – they want something to talk about
-       Provide instant gratification – they want you to get to the point and provide immediate feedback
-       Build a community for them – they want to feel like they’re part of something big
-       Inspire them – they want to feel good about themselves

How to win them over:

-      Provide flexible scheduling – they’re busy and want options

-       Provide structure and constant rewards – they need structure (like all kids do regardless of generation) and they crave immediate feedback
-       Accept their authority indifference – use it to your advantage by empowering them with leadership opportunities
-       Let them rule, optimize and filter – we establish the environment but they want to control the activities, so let them
-       Accept that they can tweet Obama – i.e. they see everyone and everything as being connected and at their fingertips


At TGA, all of our 250,000 participants are members of Gen Z so this information is very relevant to us.

From a programming standpoint, I think we do a good job of engaging these individuals as all of our programs implement a birdie/bogey ticketing system to provide immediate feedback and rewards, our staff are all trained to setup and control a specific class environment but then let students determine different station activities and games, we empower our upper level students with leadership roles, we have several online and social interactions, and more.

From a branding standpoint, however, I think we have room for growth.  Some of our projects in 2014 include conducting heavy consumer research, reviewing and re-working our core messaging to better relate to the different constituents we serve, and expanding our messaging platforms.

I hope you found this Gen Z information useful and I encourage all stakeholders in growing the game to continue learning more about how we can engage this critically important audience.

Thanks for your time and happy entrepreneuring…

1 comment:

  1. This post shows the experience of the blogger who told what about some conference and after going through it I believe the advice which is given in it is explained very well.