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Millennials: What now? What next?

MILLENNIALS ARE INDIVIDUALS born between 1981 and 1996; there are approximately 83.5 million people in this group, according to the U.S. Census. Much attention has been given to this emerging market for today’s private clubs. In fact, millennials are the future of most private clubs.

1. Millennials indicate bona fide interest in private club membership. More than half (55%) plan to join a private club during the coming decade. However, the intent to join drops to 47% if they have not connected with a club or clubs by the age of 40. The primary reasons for millennials interested in joining private clubs are 1) spending quality time with friends and family; 2) enjoying memorable experiences; and 3) getting outdoors. They are not attracted to clubs for career advancement and they want to engage in activities and special events that have purpose and significance.

2. They need ample financial runway. Like previous generations, millennials find financial resources in short supply. Unlike previous generations, many are repaying substantial college debt. Money is tight for this generation, so they need time to accumulate funds adequate to join a private club. Clubs that develop

Millennials indicate an affinity for private clubs that enable them to pay a joining fee in incremental chunks of $2,500 to $5,000 at a time until fully vested. Millennials are concerned about “joining the right club” and “fitting in” with the fear that they discover a poor fit after paying the initiation deposit. Thus, they are attracted to clubs with variations on trial memberships.

3. Millennials expect their club to offer more than golf. Clubs that offer a well-rounded profile of social and athletic activities will prosper with the millennial generation. Regardless of their background in golf, future members from this generation look for more than single-purpose clubs, such as golf, yacht and tennis clubs.

Their networks are far more diverse than generational-friend networks that came before them. They are interested in clubs noteworthy for inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness and have a feet-on-theground practicality that recognize that not all clubs are a good fit for all people. Here are three keys to attracting and engaging millennials:

1. Purpose—Millennials believe that brands should stand for more than the products they sell. They want their brands to represent more than an economic transaction. They support brands like Patagonia and REI, which promote environmental stewardship and inspire their customers to lead healthy lifestyles. They also love brands like Apple, Airbnb, Amazon, Fitbit and Starbucks, all companies that make us feel that there’s more than capitalism in their DNA. There’s a lesson for golf as well. Too many clubs focusing on selling their amenities and facilities instead of emphasizing experiences and lifestyles.

2. Authenticity—Great brands are also authentic. For years Coca-Cola was known as “the real thing,” leaving consumers with the impression that any other soft drink was an imposter. Apple is a favorite with millennials based on the authenticity of user-generated content, such as its “Shot on iPhone” campaign, which has received more than 6.5 billion media impressions. Millennials will tell you: “It’s OK to try to sell us something; just be upfront about it.”

3. Simplicity—Because of their numbers and spending potential, millennials are barraged with a plethora of marketing tactics. But, they’re busy too. They’ve gotten very good at tuning out what looks and sounds overtly commercial and disingenuous. Give them information with lots of visuals supporting and explaining the message so they can form their own opinions. When communicating with millennials, clubs could do a lot more showing and a lot less telling. The more you know about millennials, the more of them you can attract to your club.

Their networks are far more diverse than generational-friend networks that came before them. They are interested in clubs noteworthy for inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness and have a feet-on-theground practicality that recognize that not all clubs are a good fit for all people. Here are three keys to attracting and engaging millennials:

1. Purpose—Millennials believe that brands should stand for more than the products they sell. They want their brands to represent more than an economic transaction. They support brands like Patagonia and REI, which promote environmental stewardship and inspire their customers to lead healthy lifestyles. They also love brands like Apple, Airbnb, Amazon, Fitbit and Starbucks, all companies that make us feel that there’s more than capitalism in their DNA. There’s a lesson for golf as well. Too many clubs focusing on selling their amenities and facilities instead of emphasizing experiences and lifestyles.

2. Authenticity—Great brands are also authentic. For years Coca-Cola was known as “the real thing,” leaving consumers with the impression that any other soft drink was an imposter. Apple is a favorite with millennials based on the authenticity of user-generated content, such as its “Shot on iPhone” campaign, which has received more than 6.5 billion media impressions. Millennials will tell you: “It’s OK to try to sell us something; just be upfront about it.”

3. Simplicity—Because of their numbers and spending potential, millennials are barraged with a plethora of marketing tactics. But, they’re busy too. They’ve gotten very good at tuning out what looks and sounds overtly commercial and disingenuous. Give them information with lots of visuals supporting and explaining the message so they can form their own opinions. When communicating with millennials, clubs could do a lot more showing and a lot less telling. The more you know about millennials, the more of them you can attract to your club.

Henry DeLozier is a principal at GGA Partners, an international club management consulting firm that provides specialized services to more than 3,000 clients from offices in Toronto, Phoenix and Dublin (IR). He can be reached at [email protected]

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