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How can your equestrian centre appeal to baby boomers, generation X and millennials?

Appealing to more than one audience

Going back over social history, each generation is given a label. Although people don’t like to be labelled, they do help marketers target a niche sector of the population.

Each generation has its own set of historical events, opportunities and constraints.

Let’s take a look at baby boomers

Born between 1946 and 1964, this cohort tends to have a high disposable income, with their mortgage paid off.

They are great customers to have at your riding school. They love to share passions and activities with their children and grandchildren and they are likely to fund them too.

But their influence is on the wane. If this group are currently your bread and butter riders, watch out as things are starting to change.

This article will come in useful to help you prepare for the new generations coming through.

How to get baby boomers horse riding

  1. When you are marketing to this group keep in mind they are retiring to take up more adventurous activities. They aspire to stay young.

  2. Images and stories sell. Set up an age-appropriate professional photo shoot for your baby boomer customers. What do they get from riding and being around horses? Approach your local lifestyle magazines for editorial and adverts featuring them.

  3. Set up a morning slot for social gatherings and lessons. Grandparents are taking on more childcare. They are more likely to stay with you if they develop friendships with like-minded people.

  4. Offer carriage driving to make horses more accessible for people with mobility issues. If you have the land, offer safe off-road driving routes to hire for people with their own driving horses. You can market this through links with your local carriage driving club.

  5. Don’t dismiss previous horse owners who may be keen to access horses on a lower commitment level. Riding with you leaves horse lovers flexible for holidays and other interests.

  6. Encourage volunteers at RDA Groups/Pony Clubs who may not own their own horses. They may love to get involved in some of your activities.

  7. Don’t think they cannot be found online either. They were fastest growing cohort on Facebook between 2010 and 2014. They may not post, but they ‘watch’ on social media to keep in touch with their children. Set up boosted posts targeted at this age group in your local area.

Who are the allusive generation X?

This group are going through many challenges. They are time poor but dream to transition to have more freedom to be with their families.

There are two statistics that demonstrate their quest to seek a life that they are in control of. One indicator is the consistent growth in self-employment. The latest figures show 4.7 million people are now working for themselves. The other is the number of home-schooled children. This has doubled in six years, and currently, 30,000 are educated at home.

However, this group are frustrated. They are stuck on the property ladder in houses which do not cater for their families. Houses are being built on smaller plots, which don’t have the space and freedom they crave.

How to target generation X to come horse riding

  1. What can the whole family do? Is there a safe space to walk dogs? Can parents learn something too? Land management? What other experiences – quad bike training, tractors, glamping?

  2. Set up a home-schooling club – most areas have groups on Facebook. Home-school principles are often aligned to a spiritual connection to animals and nature. Create packages with nature walks and time to develop relationships with your ponies.

  3. Offer time out for self-employed to ride off-peak. Go and find people who run their own businesses at networking events in your local area.

  4. Equine facilitated learning and therapy can be a great activity to do with a family group. It helps encourage better communication and stronger relationships. Come up with packages that meet key stages of family life such as helping the transition into teenage years.

  5. Get creative with your photo shoots. Using tools like canva.com you can make your social media pop. It helps if you have a prop box to hand. This enables you to plan ahead for your Christmas promotions in September.

  6. Create ‘instagramable’ images that are inviting places to hang out. A bit of imagination on a limited budget can go a long way. Straw bales with fabric draped over are a nice touch for open day seating.

  7. Direct mail (post or leaflet drop) as this demographic is overrun with digital life. Receiving details/discounts via the letterbox can really get their attention.

Get ready for the millennials

The sheer number of millennials means they will soon outstrip the baby boomers purchasing power. This group is tech savvy as they have been born into social media.

They have a very different mindset. They plan to buy property, marry and have children later in life.

They are spending a large amount of their money on their personal wellbeing, natural products, and prioritise their pets. They also place a lot of importance on finding unique experiences that make them look good in front of their peers. This is a great indication that they would invest in programmes at your riding school.

Many people paint a bad picture of this generation, but this is the norm in social history. The established generations always do this to the rising youth population. People say they are spoilt, entitled and lazy.

However, we should think of them as people who know what they want. They should be respected when they demonstrate that they crave to have a meaningful impact in the world.

How to target millennials to come horse riding?

  1. Create inspirational quotes over pictures of your horses to post on social media.

  2. They want to be associated with brands that are changing the world and industries. Share what you do that is different. They will be your greatest ambassador.

  3. Make it fashionable by offering branded clothing they want to wear.

  4. Get them involved, make them feel part of something. Have volunteering roles that they can get involved in; running events or mentoring younger riders.

  5. Work with large local employers. They know millennials are more interested in a work-life balance than money. Many large companies recognise this and are looking for ways to offer more rewards to staff.

  6. Not on Facebook they have long left this platform (but still have accounts). They don’t post anything juicy as their parents and grandparents are on it. They like the new social media channels like Instagram stories and Snap Chat. These are snapshots of what they are up to but they are not stored forever on social media to come back to haunt them. You can target ads on Instagram to specific age groups and locality.

  7. They want to feel like they have discovered you. So, work with social media influencers in your local area. Invite bloggers and vloggers to ride with you. Find them on apps like BuzzSumo, searching online and offline and face-to-face networking.

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