Archives for October 2014

HORSE RACING’S FUTURE DEPENDS ON ATTRACTING MILLENNIALS

A seismic demographic shift is underway in the United States as the fading baby-boom generation gives way to the ascendant generation known as millennials. The future of the entire American racing industry will increasingly depend on the degree of success that racetracks and advance deposit wagering firms have in turning millennials into customers.

Businesses in the United States have long concentrated their efforts on baby boomers, simply because boomers represented the largest slice of the population.  But boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) have now been displaced as the largest population cohort by millennials (born between 1982 and 2000).  The U. S. Census Bureau reports that baby boomers currently comprise 24% of the population (75 million people), whereas millennials account for 26% (83 million people).

Leisure activities and brands that were favored by baby boomers can’t count on legacy loyalty from millennials.  Golf, for example, is in decline partly because of the number of players under age 35 who have given up playing, and the average student attendance at college football games–even including the power conferences—has dropped 7.1% since 2009, according to a recent analysis by the Wall Street Journal.  McDonald’s, a chain that started and prospered with the patronage of baby boomers, is struggling because it is being rejected by so many millennials.

Though millennials are the most educated generation ever, they have generally experienced relatively poor employment outcomes, many are burdened with student debt, and 15% of them live with their parents.  However, as baby boomers continue to retire and vacate full-time jobs, millennials will take their place and gain purchasing power.  Thus companies ignore them at their peril.

How to attract millennials as customers is an issue that consumer products companies must sort out.  Horse racing’s technical capability to be digitally conveyed and promoted over the Internet to mobile devices is a cornerstone for an effective millennial strategy.

Copyright © 2014 Blood-Horse Publications.  Used with permission.

“HORSES INSPIRING HUMANS”

Therapeutic riding centers do admirable work in serving and helping physically and/or emotionally challenged individuals.  In my privileged time as a board member and volunteer at such a center I saw up close what gentle horses can do for children and adults in need of bonding and support.

Two 501 (c) 3 therapeutic organizations I’ve recently come across are devoted exclusively to assisting armed forces veterans.

Spirit Serving Veterans is located in Middleburg, Virginia, in Hunt Country.  It engages in “equine-assisted psychotherapy, referral resources, and community outreach [to] veterans of any era, members of the armed forces reserves, members of the Virginia National Guard, and family members, free of charge.”  The objective is to “work to improve self-confidence, communication skills, personal insight, and creative thinking” for veterans experiencing, for example, “military-related stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), depression, [and] anxiety and relationship adjustment needs.”

Similarly, the Saratoga Springs, New York-based Saratoga WarHorse provides a three-day program free to veterans who are “struggling to adjust to life after military service.”   What is called the “Connection Process” refers to “an interactive experience…between off-the-track Thoroughbreds and veterans” that has been “effective in reducing symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress as well as suicidal thoughts.”   Saratoga WarHorse says that through “the silent language of the horse, a mutual trust and profound bond is established that goes beyond verbal communication…The Connection Process varies with each horse-to-veteran interaction, but through careful guidance by skilled instructors, the process remains predictable, sequential and repeatable.”

Spirit Serving Veterans and Saratoga WarHorse (and any others like them) represent the best in humankind.  By simultaneously giving horses a good home and bettering the lives of veterans in need of emotional help and assistance, the world becomes a more humane place…at least for a small number of people and animals.  Spirit Serving Veterans refers to what it does as “Horses Inspiring Humans.”

This is a good-news oasis in a world in which acts of brutality, barbarism, and mayhem crowd the headlines.

Copyright ©2014 Horse Racing Business