2019 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and Cause + Effect Strategy Optimize Attendance with Data Science

PGA of America partnered with business intelligence firm Cause + Effect Strategy (CE Strategy) to optimize ticket sales and expand market reach for the 2019 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship – an event hosted at the Oak Hill Country Club of Rochester, New York. CE Strategy devised a data-driven approach for the tournament, leading to one of the highest turnouts for a Senior PGA event.

The Opportunity

CE Strategy worked closely with the 2019 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship tournament director, Bryan Karns, to analyze a large range of datasets, incorporating customer sales data, socioeconomic metrics, weather records, and geographical data, among others, in an effort to increase attendance at this signature golf event. The key findings from the data analysis were:

  1. Clubhouse ticket purchasers represented a different customer segment than golf enthusiasts.
  2. An analysis of ticket buying times revealed opportunities for timing ads and promotions to increase ticket sales.
  3. The data identified untapped geographical areas of potential ticket buyers with the right customer profile.
  4. Rain has a direct impact on daily ticket sales volume. However, temperature does not have a statistically significant effect.

The Strategy

In order to identify traditional ticket buyers, the team first needed to understand historical ticket buying patterns: who buys tickets, why do they buy them, when do they buy them, and where do ticket buyers live. CE Strategy also extracted and analyzed data most do not realize is even tracked, from purchase history to online browsing; from past visits to an event to warranty cards that were mailed to a manufacturer.

With this information CE Strategy maximized the client’s return on advertising dollars by developing strategies that applied relevant messaging through optimal marketing channels to those most likely to purchase tickets.

CE Strategy learned the average ticket buyer to recent PGA events in Rochester was a 61-year-old white male. But because KitchenAid is the title sponsor, and celebrity chefs would be appearing at the course for demonstrations, the weeklong event wouldn’t be marketed only to golf fans. The data showed focusing on foodies and wine connoisseurs would dramatically impact attendance. Thus, a segment of digital and social media ads did not include golf-related imagery. They instead featured the tournament logo, KitchenAid technology, and celebrity chefs.

To extend reach even further, CE Strategy leveraged their partnership with the Rochester Data Science Consortium to identify ideal growth audiences in smaller communities that matched key characteristics. The data showed that television ads in Buffalo and Syracuse might not provide a great ROI, based on reach and frequency; however, there were certain ZIP codes in those communities where key characteristics did align with the 2019 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship strategy. From the data came a game plan, based on which which the tournament could reasonably expect significant ROI versus relying on forms of marketing or advertising based on historical practices.

The Results

“They’ve made us look a whole lot better. This is one of the best all-time Senior PGAs, from corporate to volunteers to tickets. Every metric that we use, it’s pretty much at the top.”

Bryan Karns, Tournament Director

CE Strategy developed hyper-local marketing strategies for the 2019 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, drawing heavily upon analysis of historical data to identify traditional ticket buyers in new markets and attract a new segment of ticket buyers driven by food and technology programming inspired by KitchenAid. This resulted in one of the best all-time Senior PGA Championships, for both attendance and revenue.