Marketing Principles Exemplified by the Masters
Updated: Apr 9, 2018
As I ready to watch the final round of the Masters today, I am reminded of how this spectacular sporting and cultural event is one of the absolute best examples of a brand achieving sustainable success without the appearance of "marketing to" its consumers. Rather than "marketing to" consumers, the Masters simply follows the basic marketing principles of: 1) Branding, 2) Limiting Supply to Create Demand, and 3) Remaining Relevant during Changing Times to achieve success.
Quite simply, a brand is a promise made to the consumers that are absolutely most important to that brand. A great brand is a promise that is consistently kept! Understanding this, it is easy to see how The Masters is such a great brand. It's promise is simply to invite the world's greatest golfers to compete at the same time every year on one of the world's most pristine golf course stages, Augusta National Golf Club. Since 1934, The Masters Tournament has been played at Augusta National, and is the only major golf tournament that is played at the same course each year. Then there are the long-standing traditions of the green jacket that is awarded to the champion each year, the Wednesday par-3 tournament, the Tuesday evening Champions' Dinner, and the simple and affordable non-branded concessions around the golf course (I love the Pimento cheese sandwich and draft beer for only $5.50). This level of consistent delivery of the promise and long-standing traditions has enabled the Masters to earn the reputation of being the most coveted event for both competitors and patrons alike, and have defined what the Masters brand is.
Limiting Supply to Create Demand
A Masters Badge is, without a doubt, the toughest ticket in sports and attending the Masters is a "bucket list" item for most of the lucky ones that get to attend. This is partially driven by the mystique of the number of badges that are made available, and badges being handed down from generation to generation. It is understood that only Augusta National Golf Club officials know how many badges are produced each year, and they never share that number. And, it's not just the quantity of badges that are strictly limited. Highly coveted Masters merchandise can only be purchased inside the gates of Augusta National Golf Club and only during the Masters Tournament. Lastly, there is the extremely limited number of advertiser commercial breaks on the telecast of the Masters Tournament. These are all great examples of limiting supply in an effort to stay true to the brand, while driving demand at the same time. Collectively, they are also a proof point that the Masters Tournament is not about being greedy and "selling something", it is simply about consistently delivering a unique experience that meets the needs of its most important consumers. This is a lesson that many other brands might want to learn from!
Staying Relevant During Changing Times
In contrast to the success achieved from the above practices, Augusta National Golf Club, and the Masters Tournament, has historically drawn criticism for it's membership and participant policies. After all, it wasn't until 1990 when Augusta National Golf Club admitted its first African American members. And, not until 2012 that the club began to admit women as members. This year, the club announced that it will host its first ever women's golf tournament with the Augusta National Women's Amateur tournament in 2019. While this is clearly not a great example of evolving with the times and inclusiveness, the brand has demonstrated that it understands the importance of balancing it's heritage with the need to evolve to remain relevant in the world today.
In conclusion, the Masters is arguably one of the most successful brands in recent times. It has achieved this level of success without the appearance of greediness and the need to "market" itself. Rather, it understands what its brand idea is, and consistently delivers that idea in unique and remarkable fashion. Overall, a great example of applying tried and true marketing principles without the appearance of "marketing".