What Is The Horse Industry’s Biggest Competition?

The recent announcement of promotions at the Active Interest Media (AIM) group contains some interesting information for those in the horse industry to think about, in terms of where our greatest competition lies and what we can do about it.

Special Interest Groups

Last month, AIM announced they’d acquired a number of equine print magazines and Web sites, including such time-honored names as EQUUS, Practical Horseman, Horse & RiderDressage Today, Equisearch.com, Equine.com, and MyHorse.com.

This acquisition meant that some long-established equine magazines and online media would be managed under the umbrella of ‘recreational’ and ‘enthusiast’ topics, along with magazines on backpacking, yachting, yoga and wellness, and rehabbing homes.

What’s really good about this is that a company that’s been successful in identifying and growing ‘special interest media’ publications (AIM) feels there’s an opportunity for growth, and advertising revenues, in the horse industry.

Recreational Rivals

Another factor is that the company’s equine media acquisitions, typically segmented by breed, discipline, and activities that compete for the attention of those interested in horses, is now going head-to-head with their other recreational activity publications. I imagine the equine unit will have to deliver a return on investment comparable to AIM’s other niche publications, or the future for these established brands might look different from their past.

While we’ve traditionally thought of ‘competition’ in terms of English versus Western, or dressage versus reining, today’s savvy equine business needs to think in terms of ‘horses versus other hobbys and activities.’ How big is our slice of the ‘recreational pie’ now, and what will it be like a decade from now?

Marketing Into The Future

In the face of rising costs and fewer opportunities to economically own horses, it takes real commitment for people to own them, to travel long distances to a stable for riding, to find access to trails, to show and compete. Finding both the time and the money for horses is a challenge in today’s world.

If horses are a way of life, what can we do to grow our equine community and industry? Through focused marketing efforts, can we:

  • Identify potential new customers and welcome them with outreach and education efforts?
  • Demonstrate the benefits of horse ownership and show how they far outweigh the expense?
  • Engage potential customers in equine activities so they focus more on horses and less on boating or crafts?

Many of the key players being promoted into new roles at AIM are still able to represent the horse owner’s point of view in AIM’s equine publications and Web sites. But will that always be the case, if the recreational competition heats up?

It’s up to all of us to expand and grow our pool of potential horse owners, and equine magazine subscribers; we can do it through smart marketing strategies that inspire and invite new people to join us in our love of all things horse.

Thoughts or comments? They’re welcome here. Doing something innovative or unique at your horse business? Let me know about it! Have a marketing challenge? Fill out our survey, below.

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Filed under Equine Industry Marketing, Polls & Surveys

9 responses to “What Is The Horse Industry’s Biggest Competition?

  1. Great post, had no idea about this acquisition, and I’m such a proponent of the equestrian industry looking for answers outside of our little bubble. We’ve got to reach out.

  2. Karyn-BlackFyre Media Works!

    Excellent points on the number one challenge facing the entire equine industry… More competition for people’s leisure time and dollars is an issue that many equestrian based businesses have kept their head in the sand about for far to long and are just now waking up to the fact that the number of youth entering the industry are far out paced by the aging population deciding to leave for various reasons.

    As an industry we need to be more proactive and less reactive with our mainstream public outreach and marketing plans. We need to work together as publications, trainers, breeders, breed associations, discipline associations, marketing experts, and supply vendors to create a unified education program that can be presented at very early educational stages of our youth. Promoting responsible horse ownership and the many opportunities equestrian activities can provide that are healthy for body, mind and soul.

    If you draw the youth in, you help draw their parents and even their grandparents into horses or perhaps rekindle their own love of all things equestrian. This helps grow new numbers at all stages of life.

    We need to embrace all forms of media to get our message as an industry across loud and clear… “become involved in equestrian sports and open new doors to friendship, exercise and the chance to connect with true horsepower, not just the horsepower under the hood of your car and truly enrich your life and happiness” We need to become more ‘user friendly’ as a group and more creative in presenting affordable and enjoyable activities of equestrians of all levels of ability and budget and then we need to promote those entry level programs ‘loud and proud’ via all media outlets available.

    We have serious competition in today’s world for people’s time and dollars and we need to do a better, more organized and more aggressive job as an industry of going after those dollars.

  3. “We have serious competition in today’s world for people’s time and dollars and we need to do a better, more organized and more aggressive job as an industry of going after those dollars.”

    A perfectly succinct description of a very large issue that very few in our industry are aware of.

  4. Karyn-BlackFyre Media Works!

    Thank you Amber… I’ve been saying this for the past 20 yrs… We have had a similar issue in the Canine Dog Sports industry but FORTUNATELY that industry has gone a bit more mainstream with their use of media and banded together a bit earlier then the Equine Industry as a whole seems willing to do, and we are seeing some areas of growth in the Canine Industry.

    I feel that as an industry, the Equine side has relied too much on the idea that being an equestrian is a whole lifestyle and the reality is today that isn’t often the truth, it’s often only a portion of one’s life, not their entire life and when so many other things are competing for leisure time and dollars we really need to figure out how to make it more welcoming for the true hobbyist who enjoys riding a few hours a week but doesn’t want to make horses their entire lifestyle and sole leisure activity. Grabbing that section of the market, IMO, is what will help save us as an entire industry.

    • Thanks for the mention and link above Lisa 🙂

      There’s so many variable to evaluates – the dichotomy of those really keeping the horses going, who very often are fully immersed in the sport as a way of life, and equally often out of touch with what goes on outside the bubble. And those of us juggling our love and our lives, straddling the line between horses and the rest of the world, and being pushed further and further away from the full blast horsey lifestyle thanks to diminishing land and increasing obligations in other areas of life.

      The left hand knows not what the right one does. And as the barns move farther out, as the juniors are saddled with extra extracurriculars, as the ammies and parents work copious amounts of overtime just to pay for it all, as the divorce rate continues to rise (despite all the modern advances life does not seem to be getting easier, or cheaper, and we all know horses can cause many a matrimonial rift), as the small shows keep dying out, as the A Circuit gets more “inclusive” while simultaneously exclusive in cost, we are seeing the wedge drive deeper and deeper.

      The really cool part though is it’s never been easier to organize, to network, to produce and to promote . . . if you can just find the time to keep track of it all 🙂 Maybe we can finally get something accomplished.

  5. Pingback: Tweets that mention What Is The Horse Industry’s Biggest Competition? « No Biz Like Horse Biz – Kemp Equine -- Topsy.com

  6. J. Villaluz

    Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so, Excellent post!

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