Like any business, you need to use all the tools you have to get ahead, including industry research, such as the recently released 2013 edition of the “State of the Industry” report. Here a few of the key findings of the report and what they may mean for tennis providers. (You’ll find more analysis of the research in a story in the upcoming July issue of Racquet Sports Industry magazine.)
To learn more about industry research and reports available, visit TennisIndustry.org/Research or email email@example.com.
Using Participation Data
* Total tennis participation in 2012 was up 4 percent to 28.04 million. Even better, frequent players, who play 21 times a year or more and account for more than 70 percent of all money spent in tennis, increased 10 percent, to 5.3 million.
For all segments of the industry, this bigger base of frequent players could mean opportunities to realize additional revenue by offering more clinics, leagues, tournaments, Cardio Tennis, etc.
* “Regular” players—those who play four to 20 times a year—also increased nearly 5 percent in 2012, to 12.6 million.
Tennis providers should make sure they emphasize programming that can keep these players in the game and transition them to “frequent” player status.
Use Frequent-Player Demographics
* The median household income for frequent players is $96,000.
That means they have money to spend—on equipment, court time, club memberships, etc. It also means you might target this income demographic in your area to get non-players or infrequent players into the game regularly—to create frequent players.
* On average, frequent players play tennis 68 times a year.
Retailers and stringers need to be on top of restringing, racquet sales and customizing needs for these players. Make sure you have software that can track string specs and help send out restringing reminders. Push the idea of a Tennis Tune-Up (visit PlayTennis.com for more info). Emphasize that the more they play (both in terms of times per year and hours), the more they need to restring.
Many frequent players are league players, too, so it helps the team to have their racquets playing their best, and maybe they can convince their teammates to get their equipment tuned up, too.
* The average age of frequent players is 34.
This means many are working professionals, so it’s important to time clinics, Cardio Tennis, round-robins, etc. to fit into their schedules, and to offer options. Flex leagues, where players set up their own match times, can be an important option.
Also, this age group is prime for appealing to health and fitness, so push the health benefits of tennis and make sure Cardio Tennis is on the menu. And don’t forget, this is also an age where many frequent players have kids—get the whole family in the game with youth tennis programs.
* Sales of racquets and shoes to frequent players may have had their challenges in recent years, but apparel sales are a bright spot.
While frequent players may hesitate to spend on bigger ticket items, they still want something new for tennis, and research has shown that apparel sales to this group increased in 2012.
Give Reasons to Play
* Get your game-matching services ramped up.
For frequent players who played more tennis in 2012, nearly 60 percent said the reason was they found someone or someone new to play with. The No. 2 reason was they found more time to play tennis, which could speak to programs that are able to fit into busy lifestyles better. The third reason was they joined a tennis league, so consider offering or expanding leagues at your facility to create more play opportunities.
* Tennis is competing for limited discretionary time, and especially on the health and fitness front.
Check into the impact Cardio Tennis can have (visit CardioTennis.com for more info)—it’s generally an hour long, and participants are both playing tennis and getting a phenomenal workout at the same time.
* Tennis on Campus program continues to grow, now with over 35,000 players on more than 600 college campuses.
If your facility is near a college or university, help the students to start a USTA Tennis on Campus program. It can fill your courts, help your retail sales and provide lesson income.
Get Kids In the Game
* Total youth tennis participation increased 12 percent in 2012, to more than 3.7 million kids aged 6 to 11. Youth tennis equipment also showed strong growth in 2012.
Take advantage of this youth tennis focus by offering programs and equipment for kids, including Red, Orange and Green balls, which also are used for adult programming and Cardio Tennis. (Also, new USTA and ITF rules are mandating the use of new ROG balls for all youth tennis tournaments.)
* Over two-thirds of facilities in the TIA’s Court Activity Monitor reported an increase in 10 and Under Tennis play in the second half of 2012.
Offer Kids’ Tennis Clubs and Play Days—in fact, Play Days average 30 kids per event, which can help build a base for your future consumers. (Visit YouthTennis.com for more info on bringing 10U events to your facility.)
* Lining and building 36- and 60-foot courts surged in 2012, with more than 4,600 courts in the U.S.
Court builders need to offer this service. Adding 10 and Under Tennis lines to an existing 78-foot court often provides entree to clubs and facilities and builds more business down the road.
Retailers, Teaching Pros
* TIA research shows that retailers are concerned with showrooming” (where consumers look in the store, then buy online).
Retailers should figure out ways to keep people in their store longer—the longer someone is in the store, the better the chances that they’ll make a purchase.
* Competition from online is a concern for tennis specialty retailers.
Local retailers should monitor prices and sales on internet sites so they know what they’re up against. While brick-and-mortar shops may not be able to match price discounts, the service they can provide can go a long way to keeping customers.
* Surveys of teaching pros show that 53 percent expect their business to increase in 2013, and 44 percent expect it to at least remain the same.
This is an opportunity to increase lesson revenue and to get people into the game and keep them there. In fact, 65 percent of people who start tennis in a beginning program continue into follow-up programs. Make sure you have clear pathways for consumers after those initial lessons and clinics.