|Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy laughs wearing Nike MM Fly Blade Polo shirt in this file photo. / Courtesy of Nike Korea|
By Park Jae-hyuk
Nike and other sports brands selling golf equipment and clothes in Korea have recently gone all out to attract consumers in their 20s and 30s, amid the growing number of younger golf fans here, according to industry officials, Tuesday.
The firms have come up with trendier and more innovative products, as well as signing endorsement deals with superstars popular with young people.
Nike stopped selling golf equipment, such as clubs and balls, in order to focus more on designs and functionality of its golf wear which can show the brand's advantage over its rivals better than golf equipment.
In particular, the U.S. sportswear and apparel company released men's "Blade Collar" shirts without collars, which were regarded as taboo among the older generation.
It also came up with iconic Jordan and Roshe golf shoes with designs that can appeal to younger consumers.
Other golf wear brands have tried to attract younger consumers with their celebrity endorsers, who are well known to golf fans in their 20s and 30s.
Wide Angle have actively carried out marketing campaigns, after signing contracts with actor Daniel Henney and actress Kim Sa-rang, both of whom have a large number of fans.
Jean-Michel Basquiat hired actor Won Bin, while Castelbajac, Heal Creek, Torbist, Volvik Vdot and Renoma Golf signed deals with top actresses including Lee Ha-nui, Han Ye-seul, Go Joon-hee, Jun Ji-hyun and Han Chae-young.
|A Nike Roshe G Tour golf shoe / Courtesy of Nike Korea|
Industry officials said their efforts are relevant to the increasing number of golf fans in their 20s and 30s.
According to industry officials, more young consumers have begun playing golf, which was regarded as sports for those in their 40s and older.
They said the trend is exceptional, considering the declining growth rate of the global golf market over the past 10 years.
According to Golfzon, the nation's largest golf simulator maker, more people in their 20s and 30s were playing golf in 2017 than a year earlier, while fewer people in their 40s and above were doing so during the same period.
Data compiled by AK Plaza also showed the purchase of golf equipment by consumers in their 20s and 30s recorded an 83.8 percent year-on-year growth rate in the first quarter, while the purchases by those in their 40s and 50s decreased.
Industry officials cited affordability as the reason for higher accessibility to golf in the recent years.
According to the Korea Golf Association, golf simulators were the most-used facilities to play golf in 2017.
Also, data compiled by the Golf Consumer Agency of Korea showed the number of golf courses that allow customers to play golf without caddies increased to 68 in 2017 from 51 in 2015.
Data compiled by the Korea Leisure Industry Institute showed the number of public golf courses were 301 in 2017, far above the number of membership-based golf courses ― 184.