Generation MZ Dominates Golf and Tennis Culture
Young Koreans born between 1980 and 1995, called “Gen MZ” include both millennials and Generation Z persons. This population earned more annually than the generations before them but faced bigger debt in 2018 than people at the same age in 2000, the Bank of Korea said in a report. Some turn to Gen MZ spending in sports, leisure, and luxury as potential contributing factors while other economists list growing cost of living and housing expenses as the root cause.
What can be agreed upon is the MZ generation's growing interest and engagement in sports and leisure activities. The popularity of golf and tennis has reached new all-time highs. Once seen as an exclusive sport only for the uber-wealthy—more people enjoy outdoor leisure activities following COVID 19—leading to a full-on golf-craze. The Korea Leisure Industry Research Institute stated the number of golfers in Korea exceeded 5 million last year and that the size of the golf market will exceed 6 trillion won this year.
As screen golf has spread, accessibility has increased, and the certified shot culture has become popular among the MZ generation, and golf has established itself as a hot sport. On the second-hand trading app, Bungangbang Market, the total amount of golf-related transactions increased by 196% compared to the previous year.
A 'golf club' is the most sought-after golf equipment for novice golfers who are starting to play golf for the first time. However, golf gear also has heavily influenced fashion purchases. Last year golf apparel spending also increased by 189% on the popular second-hand trading app. Women accounted for roughly 68% of the total transaction value. Mark & Lona, which proposes a new generation of sportswear such as punk and marine, was also ranked at the top of the search terms.
Another leisure sport, Tennis has also emerged as a popular force in Generation MZ culture. More available in urban centers than golf, tennis is one of the sports categories that has grown the most compared to the previous year—to the tune of a 174% increase in spending compared to 2020. Tennis equipment and brands are seeing record traffic in stores and through online sales. Brands such as Wilson and Nike have cashed in on the craze, rising to the top of search term rankings this year.
Similar to golf, tennis style cannot be overlooked. Generation MZ places emphasis on the unique luxury image of tennis, worn as everyday wear outside the court. In the first quarter of this year, searches related to tennis clothing increased by 214% compared to the previous year. Whether this craze is here to stay or will restrict again in times of economic stress remains to be seen, but for now, the big brands in the leisure market are enjoying a cultural revival like no other.