Tennis is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. as Americans look for a cheaper past time in a tough economy. Here are a few ideas to attract the tennis set.
One of our jobs here at 5 to 9 Branding is to report on where Americans are spending their free time.
A recent Reuter’s report found that more and more of us are spending our free time playing tennis.
If you’re the marketer of a travel or leisure brand, you’ll be interested to learn how the tennis industry orchestrated some of this growth.
First the statistics on the growth of tennis. According to Reuters:
- From 2000-2009, the number of Americans playing tennis grew 43% to 18.5 million.
- By comparison, the number of golfers declined 5% in 2009 to 27 million players.
- Tennis has become the fastest growing traditional sport in America.
- Unlike the last tennis boom in the 1970’s, there are no American tennis stars to fuel the growth.
Experts say the current growth of tennis partly the result of the slowing economy and partly the result of an orchestrated effort by the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
- After a 1994 cover story in Sports Illustrated titled Is Tennis Dead? the USTA committed $36 million annually to a multi-year marketing and promotional campaign to boost tennis at a local level.
- Tennis manufacturers like Wilson and Prince also put up millions for public parks to offer free tennis lessons to introduce Americans to tennis.
- Compared to golf, tennis is relatively easy to learn and inexpensive to play.
- Many public parks offer free use of tennis courts, and a top tennis racket costs a fraction of a good set of golf clubs.
If you’re the marketer of a travel or leisure brand, ask yourself what the tennis industry can teach you about marketing your brand.
- Can you reposition your brand to take advantage of the changing tastes of the post-recession consumer?
- Can you offer customers a low-cost or no-cost introduction to your brand?
- Could you combine efforts with a trade association to promote awareness of a sport or pastime your brand supports?
- Can you appeal to a new generation of users?
Is your travel or leisure brand capitalizing on this leisure phenomenon?
- If you market a destination travel brand, do you highlight your tennis facilities in your marketing materials?
- Could you put together a stay and play tennis package?
- How about throwing in lessons from your tennis pro?
- Could you provide free group classes or free use of racquets for travelers who forgot to pack theirs?
That’s what the tennis industry’s turnaround has us thinking about. How about you? What are you doing to capitalize on the growth of this popular sport?