As a manager within a sports governing body or large gym chain, you need to keep one eye on the broader market. The key to growth is understanding the evolving needs, expectations and behaviours of your current and target markets, and then comparing them to the wider trends influencing consumer choices.
While having an up to date market view is vital to decision-making, many organisations don’t have the budget to regularly commission independent research. Hearts & Minds was launched, in partnership with Sport MR, to address this fundamental gap in the research landscape. As a year-round consumer tracker, co-funded by several organisations, it builds rich insights and facilitates knowledge sharing without breaking the bank. This collaborative approach led to this project with England Golf winning the ukactive Research Innovation award.
Enabling England Golf to understand new and existing participants
Hearts & Minds is a syndicated research programme that’s been running since August 2017, collecting responses from 500 people per month (6,000 per year). The sample is nationally representative to enable England Golf to analyse results by age, gender, region and social class, as well as benchmark changes over time.
Our goal was to make it simple and cost-effective for NGBs and sports organisations to continuously track attitudes and behaviours. To achieve this we worked with our partners at SportMR to reimagine how trackers are delivered. The study combines two areas of questioning:
- Common questions all organisations want to ask of active and inactive people, to help boost market understanding. This core section asks the questions that multiple partners would otherwise commission independently, such as people’s current and previous behaviours; as well as the key attitudes, experiences and barriers that influence their decisions.
- Partner-specific questions that enable England Golf and others to monitor the impact of their marketing and delivery programmes.
Creating actionable insights
Hearts & Minds helps our partners to understand existing and potential participants in sport; how to engage with them, and how to design products/services/experiences that they will want to keep coming back for. This insight enables them to create targeted campaigns that address and change behaviours and evaluate their effectiveness over time.
England Golf has been our lead partner on Hearts & Minds from the start. They have been learning about the players of each form of golf and the barriers and (mis)perceptions that are deterring some people from picking up a club or deterring those who have participated in the lighter, easier forms of the game from becoming further involved.
This insight has enhanced England Golf’s understanding of issues and barriers. Perhaps even more importantly, it has added the weight of evidence they need to persuade others within the sport that the game needs to adapt in order to grow. This has added impetus to their initiatives, thus strengthening their ability to grow and to widen the UK golfing community.
“Hearts & Minds has given us a deeper understanding of our current players, potential new participants, and non-golfers alike, to make sure golf remains relevant and accessible to all those who wish to take part. We believe that this research gives us real insight into each of these groups – their motivations, perceptions and ongoing levels of interaction with golf, and wider sport in general. The insight gained allows us to better inform decisions throughout our organisation and drive our strategy to grow the game of golf in England”. Thomas Allen, Insight Manager, England Golf