Hello friends. Today the Masters begins at the Augusta National Golf Club, deep in the heart of Georgia. For an exclusive segment of the golf community, the event marks an annual celebration of the game’s core values and the unofficial start of spring. For us marketers, it represents something of a paradox – and the platform for a good old-fashioned debate:
Does the tournament’s application of exclusivity and control ultimately benefit its brand?
A brief argument for YES –
Augusta knows its fans (err, um, patrons) inside and out. Augusta’s members have clearly defined their primary target audience, and have remained steadfastly devoted to it. The result is a marketer’s most valuable asset – the undying loyalty and admiration of its customer base.
There will be no identity crisis at the Augusta National (save for those 4-footers on Sunday). By limiting supply of its products, including tickets, merchandise and advertising space, the club not only maintains – but consistently increases – demand for its goods. Its control over the market means it will never become diluted. No evolution is necessary. Similarly, this exclusivity has allowed the members to maintain strict control of their brand and message.
A brief argument for NO –
They are costing themselves business. Tournaments of similar magnitude (e.g. U.S. Open) have evolved and embraced golf’s recent surge in popularity across demographics. By all accounts this approach has served the Open and its caretakers very well. The Open has done a particularly commendable job of adding compelling extensions to the consumer experience (see: the annual Golf Digest Challenge).
They risk becoming obsolete. Where is the proverbial fine line between exclusivity and irrelevance? No one is suggesting that The Masters or Augusta National are obsolete in 2012. But 30 years from now when the Boomers are gone and Gen Y is reaching its golden years, will anyone else share Augusta’s old-world values? Will the next generation gladly part with the gadgets that have been by their side since childhood and play by the club’s rules?
Please, let us know your thoughts.