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Will Jason Day Winning the Master’s Put Him in a Class With Jordan Spieth?

Apr 8, 2016 | Insights

If you follow golf, or frankly even any sports, at all you know that this is Master’s week in Augusta, Georgia.

The big stories in this year’s tournament have been revolving around last year’s 22-year old defending champion, as well as 2015’s U.S. Open winner, Jordan Spieth, and 28-year old Australian Jason Day.

Coming into the tournament ranked number one in the world, and widely regarded as the favorite to be donning the green blazer on April 10th, when the tournament wraps, had been Day.

As of this writing his smooth start has hit a bumpy patch, finding Spieth actually at the top of the leaderboard. But, make no mistake, the Aussie is definitely still in it.

Then defending champ Bubba Watson adorns Spieth with the blessed green blazer. Will Spieth be doing the same for Day this year?

With this entry we’re focusing on the social audiences of these two golfers in relation to the primary corporate sponsorships of each.

We’ll let you look for yourself at a side-by-side of their audiences’ demographic information. Some small, notable differences here and there, but clearly for the most part very similar crowds.

Similar audiences indeed. In all ways but one. Size. Spieth’s social audience is five times larger. When adjusting for prportion those small differencces — the 6% larger female, and 7% larger under-18 following for Spieth, for example — become much more significant.

Why is this? Day is great, well-lliked, charming, not bad looking, and all that. But Spieth is a winner.

In 2013, at 19 years of age, Spieth made it into the U.S. Open as an alternate, and wound up finishing tied for 21st place and as the low amateur.

Under Armour — the Baltimore based sporting goods company who have had a hell of a year with Patriots’ superstar quarterback Tom Brady, and basketball sensation Stephen Curry (about whose relationship with Under Armour we actually recently blogged here) in their stable — took a risk signing Spieth in 2013, straight from his sophomore year of college and during his first year as a pro.

As impressive as his amateur career was, Under Armour’s move was an even bigger gamble than the one they took with Curry. The difference between good and great in golf is minuscule, and with a golfer that young greatness — particularly enduring greatness — is nearly impossible to count on.

Fast forward to 2015, though, and Spieth is the sixth player in history to win the Master’s and the U.S. Open back to back, and the first to do so since Tiger Woods did it in 2002.

Day, by contrast, is no slouch. He won the 2015 PGA Championship, and has come in second place at the Master’s and the U.S. Open. But those are the sorts of accomplishments that keep you famous only within golf circles.

In the world of sporting goods there’s been talk for some time that the shrinking of the sport’s popularity — returning to something akin to its “pre-Tiger” days — is not bringing smiles to the faces of some of those who manufacture its goods and gear. Considered by many both prohibitively expensive and extensive.

The truth is, for all the hype regarding Spieth, and as popular as he is, he’s not Tiger, and he can’t singlehandedly carry the entire PGA on his back. Not even with assistance from the PGA’s other irrefutable superstar, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy. The league needs either a larger stable of bona fide stars (the kind with charisma exceeding that of the average excellent golfer), or they need another one-in-a-million story like Tiger.

If Day can rise to the level of celebrity that Spieth and McIlroy have achieved — and a Master’s win is precisely the sort of thing that would help him do so — the sport would surely be happy to see it happen.

Jason Day carries his son, Dash, and waves to his fans after winning the 2015 PGA Championship.

Even happier perhaps, though, would be German sporting goods manufacturer Adidas

Day is the main spokesman for the Adidas owned golfing goods manufacturer TaylorMade, one of the biggest in the sport. The German company first acquired TaylorMade — who have been in business since 1979 — in 1997, the year that golf almost overnight gained NBA-style razzle-dazzle (sort of), and an audience that wasn’t just white, middle-class dads. The year a certain 22-year old Eldrick “Tiger” Woods won the Master’s by 12 strokes. We suspect the timing of this acquisition on Adidas’ part was not coincidental.

But word has had it for a while that with golf’s waning popularity, Adidas has grown frustrated with its purchase and is considering unloading it.

Golf gear — in the pre-Tiger era — was a niche, luxury concern catering to a very finite, specific, obsessive audience. Easily profitable with realistic overhead — and of course provided your products were good — but a consumer item with a definite cap in terms of growth. To a company like Adidas — who is trying to compete with Nike — and has upstarts like Under Armour nipping at its heels, this is just not good enough.

We’ve seen the demographic similarities of these audiences. They also share another trait, one judging from these stats even more profound than income or even sex, and that’s a love of golf.

Here we have a list of the top 10 “social influencers” — meaning social media figures with fans numbering at least in the thousands, whose content gets shared frequently, and so forth — among both Day and Spieth’s fans.

(A quick explanation of what you’re looking at below, the percentage shown in the blue line is the percentage of this specific audience who are also fans of the corresponding influencer. The grey line represents the percentage of average social media users who are also fans of that influencer. The metric to the far right we’ll get to in a moment.)

THE TOP 10 SOCIAL INFLUENCERS WITH JASON DAY’S FANS

THE TOP 10 SOCIAL INFLUENCERS WITH JORDAN SPIETH’S FANS

If you didn’t get the punchline, it’s all golfers. Not even the fans of Jordan Spieth, numbering in the millions — which would generally guarantee a reasonable portion who are more blasé — are casual about the sport it would seem.

And now to really hit the point home — as well as tout and promote one of our favorite features — we’ll introduce the “multiple” metric.

Raw numbers, and straight-up percentages such as how the list above is sorted can tell you an awful lot. For example, 50% of Jordan Spieth’s audience are fans of Tiger Woods. That’s a fact, and to many a marketer, and for all sorts of reasons, that kind of information can be terribly significant.

What the “multiple” metric does is calculate and tell you — at a glance — the likelihood of a member of the social audience you’re analyzing engaging in a certain behavior, liking or disliking a specific thing, using one brand more frequently than another, being a fan of any person or thing you can imagine, and so forth. The multiple number is represented in the far right column in the above chart (meaning that Spieth’s fans are 228 times more likely to be fans of Spieth than the average social media user, or 78 times more likely to be a fan of Rory McIlroy, and so on).

StatSocial always sets out to provide the fullest, richest, and most complete story possible about every audience we analyze. As such, facing the numbers head on is often incomplete, and at times can conceal truths of immeasurably greater utility to a marketer trying to communicate as directly as possible with his or her audience.

The multiplle metric can add color, and provide opportunity for social media strategies that extend beyond throwing things at the virtual wall and seeing what sticks (the current strategy employed by most).

When sorted by the “multiple” metric, frequently, you can piece together a more fully-realized picture of an audience. As you peruse our data a faceless bunch of people who liked your chicken can start to become 30-something, artistically inclined, lower-middle income, largely female, cat loving, PBS watching, Yugo driving people who love your chicken.

(To see some studies where the perspective gained by the “multiple” metric was profound, check out our recent series of entries exploring and comparing the audiences of Shake Shack vs. Chick-fil-A.)

Anyway, back to golf…

THE TOP 10 SOCIAL INFLUENCERS WITH JORDAN SPIETH’S FANS SORTED BY MULTIPLE

In this instance we’ve only confirmed what we already knew, some of the names have changed — and that alone could be significant, depending on what you’re seeking — but for our purposes our point is simply bolstered. These are serious golf fans.

The rumors’ of Adidias’ dissatisfaction with TaylorMade and the hopes pinned on a Jason Day Master’s victory to turn the business around seem almost bizarre, and make one wonder how much golf gear really was moving at the height of Tigermania.

Look at just how popular the manufacturer is if not with everyday folk, these audiences who we’ve now established as hardcore golf fans beyond doubt. Let’s look at — sorted by both percentage AND multiple — the top brands with both Day’s AND Spieth’s fans; who we’ve established care about golf above all else.

TOP 10 BRANDS WITH JASON DAY’S FANS BY PERCENTAGE

We see a Nike, and of course as was our point, a TaylorMade, we don’t however see an Under Armour (they are, in fairness, ranked 24th, between the NFL Network and USA Today).

TOP 10 BRANDS WITH JASON DAY’S FANS BY MULTIPLE

TaylorMade is still there.

And this group is 207 times more likely to be fans of TaylorMade than the average social media audience member, and that’s a heck of a lot of times for an audience of hundreds of thousands of people.

But what of last year’s golden boy, and a boy whose career of true greatness only lies ahead, Mr. Spieth?

TOP 10 BRANDS WITH JORDAN SPIETH’S FANS BY PERCENTAGE

Again, we see the ubiquitous Nike at number 2, we indeed see TaylorMade, but Spieth’s own lucrative sponsor — the Baltimore based Under Armour — are nowhere to be seen in the top 10 (they are, for the record, ranked 28th, between ESPN Radio’s Mike Golic and ESPN.com’s Andy Katz).

Sorting by multiple, TaylorMade is not only hardly shaken, they’re ranked higher; with Spieth’s fans 112 times more likely to be TaylorMade fans than the average, and we’re speaking of a gentleman whose fans number in the millions.

TOP 10 BRANDS WITH JORDAN SPIETH’S FANS BY MULTIPLE

If Adidas regards carrying the company as a burden, we theorize ithat with Tiger no longer in that Michael Jordan/Muhammad Ali/Pelé rarified air, and golf having returned to its days as more of a large cult concern, since no one has come along to take his place — not even the excellent McIlroy or Spieth, or now of course Day, who are all great — it may just be too specialized an area of manufacturing for the German company to find it financially worth it.

Under Armour enjoys having Spieth in their roster because he may be the best in the world right now, is a legitimate star who has, in terms of recognizability, transcended the sport to at least some degree — even if he’s not a Tiger-esque supernova — and he’s only one of their stable of stars, spanning many sports. There is no pressure on him whatsoever to carry anything beyond the company’s golf items, in other words, and those apparently sell well enough for Under Armour to have torn up their original contract and in 2015 sign Spieth to a 10-year deal for an undisclosed amount.

Referring to the side by side demographic charts at this entry’s opening, as we said earlier, some of those small differences become much larger when adjusted for proportion. Day’s under-18 crowd is under 10%. Whereas Spieth’s is 17%, you know… times five.

For drivers and expensive accessories, that’s likely not all that meaningful, but for sneakers that’s a key demographic. Spieth’s hotly anticipated — and apparently very long in coming — signature shoes (designed to be just like the ones he’s been wearing on the links for years) have only hit the market as of this spring. It’s early days yet to gauge their performance.

Pre-release ad hyping UA’s Spieth shoe.

But Under Armour has been selling golf shoes of varying types for years, with Spieth the biggest golfer in their stable. On some level he’s been at least by association promoting their golf shoes for years, and evidently to their satisfaction.

Percentage-wise, Jason Day seems strongest with the 35–44 crowd — making up a full quarter of his audience — which in terms of selling actual golf gear, like clubs and such, is a heck ofl a demographic with which to be strongest; particularly if as his audience grows it remains, as Spieth’s has done, hardcore golf fans.

If a Master’s victory is indeed close at hand for Day, you would think you’d see a noticeable increase in his number of social fans. But so far that has not been the case. Does one really have to wear that blazer before they really see the difference? Will Day’s star rise significantly even in the wake of an Augusta victory?

We’ll have to watch what happens between now and April 10 (when the tournament ends), and then see what comes in the wake of a Day Master’s win, should one come to pass. We’ll be certain to follow up here, we guarantee you that.

To learn much more about StatSocial, the curious are encouraged to visit the StatSocial site itself, where you’ll find all sorts of stuff including sample reports.

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