The game is a family entertainment winner
Bowling, the sport of throwing a heavy ball down a lane and knocking over pins, has been around for centuries and over the years has become one of North America's favorite recreational sports. In terms of participation, bowling is the most popular sport today, according to a recent study for the Sporting
Goods Manufacturer's Association (SGMA). More people bowl (over 50 million), than walk on treadmills, camp, or fish. Bowling has almost double the active participants of golf.
Although there has been a decline in the number of people who bowl frequently, the sport has grown in popularity since the late 1990s. Movies such
as Kingpin and The Big Lebowski have contributed to a resurgence of interest in bowling, helping give the sport a new "retro" image. The sport's popularity has even surfaced in fashion, with the bowling shoe look being one of the hottest trends in the casual footwear
Bowling attracts a remarkable customer base and is no longer considered a "blue-collar" sport. The "Superstudy Sports Participation," conducted by American Sports Data, Inc., found that the average income of a bowling household is over $60,000 annually. Over one-third of bowlers were found to be college graduates. Similarly, a recent study by Market Facts, Inc. showed that 70 percent of bowlers held white collar jobs and 75 percent were married homeowners.
By improving their facilities, adding complementary activities and launching aggressive marketing programs, most neighborhood bowling alleys have redefined themselves as "family entertainment centers." Young people (ages 6-17) are the fastest growing segment of the market and comprise over 35 percent of today's bowlers, according to AdMall®. Participation by women in bowling has also
increased in recent years, and today women constitute 50 percent of the industry's customer base. Bumper bowling now provides "training wheels" for the 8-10 million youngsters who formerly were considered too young to bowl. The newest rage is "glow in the dark" bowling, marketed as "cosmic" or "Xtreme" bowling. Teens and young adults pack bowling centers which are converted into virtual discos – complete with. throbbing music, fog machines and computer-generated lighting effects. These programs are usually targeted for off hours or late evening hours.
A recent bowling industry overview reports that a growing number of facilities are becoming full-fledged "family entertainment venues" which, in addition to bowling, offer such amenities as laser tag, children's soft play, simulated golf, carnival rides and branded fast food outlets. These activities have been shown to increase the number of customer visits and revenue per visit.