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It was just a few weeks ago when we talked about a SuperBowl commercial for the bowling industry. I was then being very cavalier about the strategy, given its enormous expense, but it seems I struck a nerve.

At convention after convention this season, many proprietors commented to me that advertising on the SuperBowl was in fact a DAMN good idea and I should pursue it. Not only pursue it, but take it on and write to the powers that be.

Other proprietors emailed me and said it was “high time” we did something to stand out. Still others thought the industry should move forward with a national advertising campaign.

Yes, we should do all of these things and subsidize local markets, create beautiful commercials, develop email templates, produce radio spots, produce direct mail, postcard copy and art, but I don’t think it's on the BPAA table. I may be wrong, and I hope I am, because we need a jump-start.

Here’s why. One very good NJ proprietor recently wrote to me that the “industry is dying” and we just don’t know it. As vehemently as I wanted to disagree with him, he made some valid points such as:

1. 50% of our business (the league bowler) is getting older and we are not able to replace him or her. So attrition will eventually win. The other 50%, Open Play, is affected by a host of internal and external issues. Right now, the lack of money in the consumers’ pocket, the number #1 problem, combined with the need for a deal in each transaction, creates a monumental problem.

2. The bowling business has always been a function of “Volume multiplied by Price.” Right now we have neither, and the horizon for that to change is not good as the consumer has learned to live with less and spend less. Unfortunately, being an entertainment venue, we are the first thing that goes in the tough times. This may be the new economy with the consumer having less money in his pocket. I don't see it getting materially better in the near future.

3. Food and beverage and ancillary income, which was a constant pipeline, has slowed to a trickle. Unfortunately the recession has put a big damper on this revenue stream. The customer has figured out, as in the movies, they can bring it in or do without. Trickle, trickle.

Well, if our existing customers are not buying our product with the frequency they once did, maybe that SuperBowl spot is just the thing to kick off a national campaign followed by a strong grassroots marketing program.

What do you think, Mr./Ms. BPAA, can we at least examine it?

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