Racing Future is determined to inspire a new generation of fans to enjoy the sport of horse racing.

Racing Future Blog: What's Horse Racing's New Yoga Pant?

The similarities between sportswear manufacturer Lululemon Athletica and horse racing should not be lost on any of us.Both are involved in global markets, and in specialized/niche activities that can be challenging to promote. Both have seen their market share contract over time for a variety of reasons and both are trying to win back and grow their customer bases.
 
Recently, Lululemon made an apparently simple marketing strategy announcement via Twitter. 
Twitter: horse racing's new yoga pant
 
The company appears to have weathered several storms in recent years, including the now famous see-through yoga pant fiasco and has apparently focussed its attention on a new customer segment: millennial men. 
 
Marketing to men or any other customer segment through beer is not a new concept even in horse racing. Here in Canada, for example, E.P. Taylor, who founded Woodbine Racetrack and bred famed Northern Dancer, connected horse racing and beer with his Canadian Breweries Limited back in the 1930s.  Now, many brands of beer are affiliated with various racing clubs and venues around the world.
 
What is new is that Lululemon’s beer connection is not a large global brand such as Molson Coors or the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev. Instead, it is a craft beer called Curiosity Lager, made by Stanley Park Breweries.
 
And, what does a craft beer have to do with yoga pants?
 
Everything.
 
If Lululemon is selling health, choice, uniqueness, social experience, and adventure in their athletic clothes then a pairing with a craft beer could be a brilliant marketing move. Craft beers are selling the same things and are the most popular beer for millennial men in North America. 
 
In trying to engage and market to the younger generation, Racing Future believes racing should be asking what Lululemon’s marketing staff must have asked: What’s our new yoga pant? 
 
In North America, answering this is not a simple “let’s align with a craft brewery,” although that could work effectively for branded tracks that already have millennial customers such as Del Mar.
 
Instead, horse racing all over the world needs to understand its potential customers and segment them properly. We’ve used the #NoFansNoBusiness at Racing Future to highlight this fact and spoken of the customer centric modus operandi of Mr. D at Arlington. Recently, we have also noted the spectacular results achieved by the Hong Kong Jockey Club whose CEO, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, has explained that everything the Club does is derived from a deep understanding of every aspect of customer behaviour.
 
If horse racing wants to engage millennials and grow the millennial segment of the potential fan base there are some fundamental things that need to happen. The sport needs to really focus on technology and on implementing technology that millennial customers want and believe they need to participate. The sport also needs to be more social, which includes expecting and respecting openness and -- sometimes, controversial, if not downright negative -- opinions from fans. More needs to be done to showcase horse racing as an adventure and how the sport offers opportunities to experiment whether by trying a new type of bet or a new racing venue or consuming the sport in a non-traditional way. Every person who is involved in producing the sport should openly and actively appreciate every fan and fan loyalty should be rewarded constantly even in small ways. More focus should be placed on the health benefits of the horse-human relationship. More effort should be given to aftercare and to sharing our stories of animal welfare. In this vein more should be done in North America to move the medication issue forward so that new millennial fans can see the industry cares deeply for the animals who give us all so much. Finally, racing needs to share more about its compassionate charitable side both in and outside the horse industry.
 
Racing Future applauds all those currently helping with any of these kinds of efforts around the world. However, we believe we all need to work smarter:  all the players from around the world need to come to the table, bringing their strengths and their weaknesses, and everyone involved needs to see the sport for what it is, a truly international whole. This global collaboration could be a true innovation in marketing the sport -- it could be horse racing’s “new yoga pant.” 
 
Hong Kong Jockey Club: United Nations of Racing
Jenny Bridle
RacingFuture.com
 

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