European Golf Equipment Report
The British Golf Industry Association (BGIA) published a comprehensive evaluation of the European Golf Equipment Market at the end of 2005.
The independent sports research agency, Sports Marketing Surveys, used a range of methodologies to collect and collate knowledge, intelligence and expert opinion on the market place. Combined with desk research, interviews were conducted with key specialists in the market such as retailers, buying groups, distributors and the manufacturers themselves. The study covers almost 20 countries including former Eastern bloc countries.
Commenting on the project, Stephen Proctor, MD of Sports Marketing Surveys said, "The major markets are already quite well researched and actively serviced by the major companies in the industry. What we hope to have achieved from this survey is a thorough understanding of the smaller markets and the opportunities that exist there for SMEs who are unable to fund such extensive research from their own resources."
Funding for this project was provided by UK Trade & Investment through their export marketing research scheme.
The Executive Summary is provided below:
- National statistics for registered golfers almost certainly understate participation. In countries where estimates for total golfers are available, these are on average 20% higher. Though not directly comparable, the UK has approximately 1,250,000 club members, on which “official” estimates are based – but approximately 2.5 million non-club member golfers, who account for some 40% of all golf rounds played in the UK
- Unlike Great Britain, the Continental European Market is showing strong growth. For the 18 countries covered by this report, the number of registered golfers has increased over the past 5 years from 1.9m to 2.8million – a growth of some 47%. If trends continue over the next 5years, there will be over 4 million registered golfers and over 4,300 golf courses. The UK’s 1,250,000 golfers have 2,400 courses at their disposal, suggesting that European growth could be constrained by availability of facilities. This does however vary widely from market to market.
- In many ways this is quite a modest projection – resulting in an overall participation rate of less than 1%. This compares to a current 7% rate in the UK, and 10% in the USA. This relatively low penetration of golf is in countries that either already enjoy a high standard of living – e.g. Germany or have rapidly growing economies e.g. Hungary, Poland, and Russia.
- A slight warning on growth may come for Sweden – where official Golfer numbers indicate a decrease in the past year (2005). Note however that participation in Sweden is at 7% - massively higher than other markets where most of the growth is expected.
- Our research identified over 250 courses planned for construction over the next 3 years – 3 new courses for every two weeks. A major constraint, environmental issues, is still a major factor, but our impression is that developers and environmentalists have achieved a modus vivendi that should enable construction of new courses to proceed in a reasonable manner.
- For the 18 markets covered in this report, the four categories of clubs, ball, bags and trolleys account for retail sales of some €631 million (£435 million). This is broadly the same size as the UK market for the same sectors. The Continental European market reflects the shorter playing season in some countries, reducing ball sales, and the higher number of beginner and relatively ‘early stage’ golfers who tend to upgrade their clubs on a more frequent basis.
- The equipment market is already quite sophisticated. Major manufacturers have a strong presence in all markets, and perhaps because golf is still somewhat elitist, are able to establish strong market shares at relatively high prices.
- Challenges to the majors manufacturers, come from some local suppliers e.g. Komperdell in Austria & Germany, Browning and Inesis (Decathlon) in France and “private” brands such as Olyo, 4D and Best Golf in Scandinavia.
- The Internet is another significant factor for golf equipment in continental Europe. This is mostly because major brands can be found more cheaply on the internet. Mail order companies, multiple retailers and other retail outlets also offer own brands as low cost alternatives.