I was at a large business conference last week and many of my conversations went like this:
“Hi, What do you do?”
“I own a media and marketing company…”
Smile of recognition.
“…specializing in equestrian sports.”
“Like the Kentucky Derby?”
“No, like show jumping at the Olympics.”
“There are horses in the Olympics?”
In three days, I met just four people out of thousands who knew what equestrian sports were without me having to explain it. I’m not sure what has been done in terms of marketing to the corporate world specifically, but the widespread lack of awareness surprised me. No wonder mainstream brands aren’t sponsoring our sport… we’re not on their radar at all.
Just at this particular conference, there were 7,500 people. These were top-level executives, marketing VPs, CEOs, bankers – the kind of people who buy VIP tables and entertain clients. They would be prime targets for every horse show and equestrian federation. You’d think they would have been reached somehow by the marketing or even one-on-one at networking events. If they have, it hasn’t made a significant impact.
Marketing in 2019 is less about wide reach, like television advertising was in the 60s where every segment of society was watching the same show. It’s now about segmentation, and targeting particular niches and personas. The social media and digital media advertising industry is based on pinpointing and sub-segmenting segments. Want to reach 40-something Polish dance enthusiasts who love cats? No problem.
So in that sense, the equestrian market might not have the numbers that basketball or other mainstream sports do, but it has an attractive demographic: active, college educated, high income, primarily female. At the top of the sport, you’ll find 142,000 US Equestrian members with an average net worth of $955,000, according to USEF data. If we go broader, the American Horse Council Foundation estimates that 30.5% of U.S. households contain a horse enthusiast.
While the average rider might not buy Longines watches or fly around in a private jet, she travels to competitions, eats in restaurants, stays in hotels, drives to the barn, probably owns a pick-up truck or SUV, spends money on outdoor wear, barn supplies, skincare products, gym memberships, physiotherapy, and insurance.
Several mainstream brands could benefit from investing in this market. The best part? It’s very affordable. In the ‘real world’ a $100,000 marketing budget probably gets you an influencer campaign. In the equestrian market, you can make a real splash.