Over the past decade, golf equipment marketing has moved in lockstep with general product marketing trends to rely increasingly on digital video as a means to educate consumers and tell a compelling story. The benefits of sight, motion and sound are obvious, particularly in a format that is accessible anywhere, any time. But as I’ve remarked here previously, there has been such a proliferation of product introductions and a litany of technological innovations that often sail over the heads of most golfers, that the stakes have grown increasingly higher as it becomes more difficult to break through the clutter.
Not long ago, we worked with a major media brand to take an initial and generic deep dive into the ways in which golfers best connect with digital product-oriented videos, with the goal of identifying ways to optimize their effectiveness. From a research design perspective, this was not an easy task, and given the abundance of potential presentation iterations, many of our learnings are best viewed as directional. We have subsequently and often conducted specific concept tests, to evaluate the resonance of specific executions, and highly recommend the same for those looking to do the same.
That important disclaimer aside, first, we took great effort to frame our sample through a media-agnostic approach that looked across the golfer market place from a broad market lens. Specific findings for segments of golfers based on ability and game improvement goals inevitably varied. We began with a deep qualitative exploration, conducted in three distinct U.S. markets.
We completed 25-minute depth interviews with nearly 50 golfers to first frame and better understand video utilization, content preferences and most resonant presentation formats. We elicited reactions to a variety of content and approaches. We then rolled these initial directional insights into a comprehensive 20-minute online survey that validated and quantified the extent of what we learned.
All in we spoke with nearly 4,300 golfers. Particularly useful in our subsequent analysis was the use of an advanced statistical technique known as conjoint analysis, that helps us to identify the optimal bundle of characteristics that drive the greatest interest in a golf video. It’s akin to some of our equipment research where you literally force the consumer to choose between pairs representing every possible combination of the various features, to arrive at what produces the best outcome. In this case, that outcome was interest in a particular golf video.
Here’s what we learned.
It’s important to note that respondents recognized that there’s a fine line between overt product pitches and desired content. The credibility, objectivity, relatability and authenticity of the source delivering golf video content typically sets the necessary tone needed for these videos to truly resonate. Credibility, objectivity and authenticity were highly valued to set the stage for one’s desire to view and retain the content. Golfers value the measured evaluations of well-known, endemic third-party brands when watching videos on new golf equipment. They do not want to be overtly sold to, and were less enamored by videos that failed to connect on an objective, unbiased level.
Golfers also wanted their video content in small, manageable and personally relevant doses. While golfers are particular about specific content, they subscribe to the K.I.S.S. method (Keep it Simple, Stupid) when seeking out the optimal golf-related online video. While video length varied somewhat by topical area, the research converged on an ideal length of under three minutes.
Personalization was also a significant driver of satisfaction. Golfers are particular in sourcing content that they find to be personally relevant, through varied gateways, often through search-related or known golf-specific media brands.
A closer analysis of those elements that were most resonant in our study, showed that the host or narrator of the video was most significant in driving overall enjoyment. Interestingly, the relationship between narrator relatability and credibility yielded top teaching professionals along with PGA Tour pros as most coveted among those potential narrators. The qualitative work often revealed some skepticism surrounding the perceived “mercenary” nature of Tour professionals. Source or origin of the video was next most important, with known brands such as a media entity being most optimal.
Beyond host, source and personal relevance, other production-related factors were shown to be significantly less important drivers of enjoyment. Video length (under 3 minutes) and opt-in access (ie. one needing to click through to watch the video, rather than autoplay) were next in the importance hierarchy. This was followed by the context of product presentation.
Across this dynamic, actual performance demonstrations were more favorably received than straight lecture or detailed discussion formats. Respondents also tended to have greater appreciation for those videos that included multiple versus single products. This is consistent with other research that we have conducted, showing preferences for multi-brand and multi-product demo days over a narrower product assortment.
Rounding out the list of most important elements, was tonality of the presentation. Here, the study yielded a preference that equipment was discussed or featured in a non-promotional format. While performance claims were certainly valued, it was important that these were more subtly presented, often with empirical back-up that related to the target customer, rather than against an aspirational or elite backdrop, not relatable to the typical rank and file amateur.