All over Australia strange things are happening
at our sports clubs. The goal posts are shifting. Club membership is stagnating and in an effort
to attract and retain members changes must be made.
But what can you do? These days there are more entertainment choices,
more sports, and more demands on our time and our money.
Our population is changing and we have very different lifestyles, yet against this backdrop
there has been a spike in sport participation. Not through clubs but through things like
running with you iPod, social group cycling, going to the gym, or seeing a personal training.
So how do you, as a club, get a bigger slice of this increasingly fractured market?
To find out what influences people’s decisions around club based sport, the Australian Sports
Commission and GfK Blue Moon did some research with both adults and kids.
With adults we found most people fall into ten basic groups when it comes to sport; the
Loyalists; the Socially-Engaged; the Sport-Driven; and the Apathetic Clubbers.
Then there’s the Sidelined Sportsters; the Club Wary; the Ponderers; the Self-Focused;
the Sport Indifferent; and the Sport Atheists. 40 per cent of non-club members aged 14-65
belonged to a club at some point, so there’s a chance to re-engaged with these people on
some level, and a quarter of Australians aged 14-65, who aren’t members of a club, have
expressed interest in joining one. That’s 3.8million people who potentially
want to be part of club sport. So how do you tap into them?
Firstly, you need to understand the main concerns adults have with club sport. One is inflexible
schedules, clubs being too cliquey; leaving people feeling excluded. Another is the cost,
and limited opportunities for beginners. When it comes to kids in sport the research
identified six basics types; the Social Loyalists; the Sports Driven; and the Apathetic Clubbers.
And then you have the Thrifty Enthusiast; the Ponderers; and the Sport Resistant.
Over 50 per cent of kids who aren’t club members now were once part of an organised
sport and 46 per cent would think about joining a club if activities were better suited to
what they wanted. These non-club members make up 1.1million potential new recruits.
The research found while some kids love the competitive side of sport many others don’t.
So to attract and retain kids to your club here’s some stuff to keep in mind.
Create an environment based around fun, enjoyment, and being with friends.
Value each and every player, and give everyone a chance to join in regardless of ability;
and offer flexible membership options for kids and their parents.
So how can this research benefit you? Well it might help you think outside the box to
improve how your club operates. Be flexible; cater to different groups by
developing new ways to get people involved. Create alternative forms of your game that
focus on fun and enjoyment rather than competition. Changing the rules might be one way of doing
this. Let friends play together if that’s important
to them, rather than trying to separate them based on talent.
Schedule your sport at different times of day and week; more teenagers might get involved
on a weeknight than a Sunday morning. At your end of year presentation have a social
night to celebrate participation and your volunteers as much as you celebrate success.
Ask your members about any issues at your club. By addressing the concerns you can start
to focus on the opportunities. Small changes now can make a big difference to your club
later. Need some help with your ideas? Visit ausport.gov.au/marketsegmentation
to access research and support materials including presentations, fact sheets, and case studies.
The goal posts for clubs may be shifting but armed with knowledge, ideas, and commitment
your club can kick some serious goals well into the future.