Pacesetter

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Remember the days when getting a Facebook account really meant something?

Understanding the difference between innovators and laggards—and each group’s defining characteristics—is critical for club managers when adopting a digital media strategy. While by age group, the average club falls into the laggard category by default, members’ economic wealth and social influence may allow clubs to convert them into innovators.

Before 1.71 billion monthly active users logged into Facebook, it was an exclusive social networking site open only to users with specific college email addresses. Yet, in 2006 when Facebook opened the membership to anyone with a valid email address, the registration floodgates did not open. Generation X members and Baby Boomers lagged behind, but it was the Millennials who quickly jumped at the opportunity. Over time, this spread to the older users and eventually Millennials moved on to the next platform. Who wants to hang out with their parents?

Fast-forward to 2016 and one thing is clear:  Generation X members and Baby Boomers still lag behind when it comes to adopting digital and mobile technology.

Sure, social media usage by Generation X members and Baby Boomers has grown drastically since 2006. However, when it comes to adopting and utilizing new technology platforms, they still lag behind. This is demonstrated in part by the fact that while most teens and many Millennials name Snapchat as their favored social media platform (and I concur), Baby Boomers still highly prefer Facebook.

While the difference in generational social media platform preferences can be attributed to varied communication styles, private clubs must be aware of Baby Boomers’ and some Generation X members’ tendency to lag in adopting new technology.

When it comes to adopting new technology, every consumer can be placed into one of five groups of adopters:  Innovators, early adopters, the early majority, the late majority and laggards.

Innovators are those consumers who are the first to adopt new technology. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these consumers make up the smallest percentage of purchasers. While research shows that innovators are the most willing to take risks and tend to be the youngest consumers, one factor that club managers may find interesting is that innovators tend to have the most disposable income.

In contrast, laggards represent a significantly larger percentage of the population. These consumers are the last to adopt innovation and tend to be amongst the oldest group of consumers. While laggards generally care about upholding tradition, club managers may be surprised to find out that laggards generally have little social influence.

Understanding the difference between innovators and laggards—and each group’s defining characteristics—is critical for club managers when adopting a digital media strategy. While by age group, the average club falls into the laggard category by default, members’ economic wealth and social influence may allow clubs to convert them into innovators.

What does this conversion possibility mean for club managers? Simple:  In developing digital strategies, involving club members in the process is critical to the strategy’s success. Research shows that consumers typically identified as laggards can become innovators when their opinions, ideas and preferences are sought during the design or creation process.

So, when your club is testing out or adopting new features for its mobile app, website or social media platforms, why not begin crafting a strategy by first asking members what they want? Beyond asking members what they want, why not create focus groups where new ideas or digital service concepts are introduced and member interest is gauged in them? Here’s the goal:  Generate buy-in from members and ensure their happiness with digital strategies they understand.

For clubs to succeed in the digital 21st century, it cannot afford to lag behind. Given that 54-years-old is the average age of American golfers, club managers must be cognizant of the possibility that members may lag behind in adopting technology. Yet, that 50-percent of golfers are white collar workers and 67-percent are college educated, golf is in a unique position amongst other sports to be an innovator in adopting and creating standards of best practice for digital technology usage.