Let us start with a few facts. One, the largest growth is in the youth in archery. Two, the archery industry is struggling. Three, social media is where marketing is most effective. Just returning for the annual ATA (Archery Trade Association) Show, spending time working, watching and wandering around the show there were two main areas that felt neglected for the future of archery. This blog will focus on the youth. The second area will be addressed soon.
There appears to be a aging in and aging out in the industry. The industry as a very strong set of “aging out” archers. These are archers that have committed years to archery, however, as they are of the older generation. The talent of the youth is just starting to “aging in” as the next potential top archers. With many bow shops, they are owned by older generations. They do not understand the youth of today. The focus is often on what worked in the past, not how to grow for the future. The youth today are fast thinkers, needing programs that are up to date and social media driven. Podcasts and live streaming are definitely effective and growing. Young archers want to hear from the top archers, they want to watch them from their devices and be able to communicate this them on social media.
The ATA show did offer a few booths on the youth programs. They had the basics of the program, and due to the cost to participate in the ATA show, they are not programs that can pull the draw like many of the large manufacturers. The large manufacturers did not appear to have any specific marketing program towards the youth. They are not accessing where the future revenue needs to be targeting when the largest growth in archery is in the youth. There where a couple that had a few new fun game type archery products that caught the eye, like archery golf. There are a few out there starting to see the need to focus on the youth.
The archery industry is close to a new generation of talent archers, that understand the current trends needed to market, however, many are not ready to “age in”. They are still in high school, attending college, or still needed a few more years to grow up in the industry to help shape it for the future. There is a fear of the youth and sponsorships. This can often come from the parents and the demands parent think they can place on sponsors. Until the youth archers are 16 to 18 years of age, often they are not looked upon. The archery industry is not stable enough to bet your youth’s future on only archery.
Social media is an important aspect of marketing to today’s generations. There are athlete pages for many of the top youth archers. However, they do not play a part towards the youth archer and sponsor until they are winning consistently in the higher divisions. There are some very talented cadets and juniors that have found the support of manufactures. They look to the podium first. Until archers are on the podium and consistently on the podium, athlete pages are not of great value at this time.
It would be in the best interest of many to start to consider programs or support of the youth. Bow shops must start youth programs. These programs need to be geared to youth. Shops must be youth friendly. Manufacturers should talk to the youth archers on how they are swayed by social media to pull in more youth. This archery parent is not a supporter of marketing a youth archer. Yes, it would amazing to see photos of your child on big banners, however, the feeling is that this needs to wait until they are adults and able to handle the added pressure.
There is a tremendous amount of revenue that is spent on marketing. The exhibits for many where extraordinary. Some were quite intimidating to this archery parent. There is still a need to market directly to the youth. The ATA show was well run, amazing to experience and important to the industry. There were several seminars that did start to address the youth. However, they all run at the same time, quite early in the morning, leaving tough choices on which to attend.
This archery parent suspects that this year is a year of transition in the archery world. In fact, as the archery industry catches up to the 21st century it will target more effectively. This archery parent is starting to see the bigger picture and knows that archery is small and limited to very few that make a full time living shooting. The future is bright with the youth talent that is growing up with archery.