Buffalo Groupe charges ahead with research- and data-based acquisitions

Full-service marketing collective digging deeper into golf consumer habits, trends and spends

What are the trends of golfers when they're not on the course? That is one area that Buffalo Groupe is hopeful of learning through its recent acquisition of Sports Marketing Surveys USA.

Golfers are considered a “super consumer” audience for companies doing business in that sphere, but it’s also regarded as a fragmented industry with seemingly more pieces than a jigsaw puzzle. 

“Golfers buy a lot of things; they do a lot of things but they can be really hard to reach,” says Kyle Ragsdale, the CEO of Buffalo Groupe, LLC. “The only place you can find them (in large numbers) is with sponsorships in and around professional golf tours — especially the majors — and that’s why golf sponsorships cost so much. That also means it’s pretty limited for a lot of brands. If you’re not a FedEx or a Charles Schwab it’s really hard. So then how do you do it? Well, you go to the PGA Show or you hire a sales force and go door-to-door if you have a new ball or apparel brand.”

Kyle Ragsdale.jpg
Kyle Ragsdale.

Or take the recent approach of Buffalo Groupe, which is a Charleston, S.C.-based collection of agencies, events and media properties with a foundational philosophy to connect brands and lifestyle audiences through content. Buffalo Groupe has acquired a pair of leading market research firms within the last 18 months in an attempt to tap into the habits of golfers — on and off the course — and to better serve its customer base.

"We never stop trying to improve ways to generate demand on behalf of our clients," Ragsdale says. "There is very little in the marketing stack that we didn't do prior to these acquisitions — creative, messaging, PR, social, websites — but a deeper understanding of the audiences we market to is a true differentiator for us. Longitudes and SMS give us that edge. So I guess you could say that our clients drove this and listening to clients is always a good thing to do."

Florida-based Sports Marketing Surveys USA was the most recent purchase by Buffalo Groupe in October, with Portland-based Longitudes Group acquired in January 2021.

Both are considered leaders in their respective business space.

"Now, we feel that our main thesis of understanding the golf audience has just deepened, with pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase data. It rounds out all of our offerings," Ragsdale says.

This kind of data and research is available in real time, for example, to all the big hotel companies in terms of room nights, levels of spending, etc., but hasn’t necessarily been connected to all of the components of golf.

Until now.  

“We’ll now be able to bring this type of technology and insight in near real time to the brands we represent,” Ragsdale says.


There are some immediate opportunities to implement Sports Marketing Surveys USA’s expertise into integrating its business with Buffalo Groupe. For starters, one of Sports Marketing Surveys’ core products is the annual Physical Activity Council (PAC) study. The council basically tracks trends of people who participate in 114 sports — everything from running and cycling to curling and yoga. SMS is the annual author of the industry-leading and comprehensive study.

"They really are the definitive voice on what people do when they play or when they move," Ragsdale says. "For us, of course we are going to take that data and go deeper and deeper and deeper into golf, but it’s also a very natural extension for us to implement the second part of our strategy and track the other things that golfers do.

“Let me use pickleball as an example. We might be working with a property and they are looking at how they should market themselves, and the PAC study data shows us that pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the country so we might dig deeper into those interests and target people who are interested in pickleball on behalf of a client. That is a very quick integration for us."

There is little argument that all the new data will open up numerous avenues to Buffalo Groupe, which will extend to various other sports and lifestyle options of golf-based consumers.

"Buffalo Groupe wants to play in the golf space, that’s where we started, but the next steps are all the other things that golfers do," Ragsdale says. "A really big category is running, a lot of people do that, but there is also hiking, biking, skiing — those are all things you and I do when we’re not playing golf, or maybe it is when we’re playing golf because we’re at a resort and we go for a hike or a bike ride."

Other off-course categories could include luxury automobiles, wineries and destinations that golfers seek and enjoy off the course.

"Those are all natural angles for us now," Ragsdale says. "A stated goal for our investors and our management team is that if you fast forward to 2025 we want 50 percent of our business to be in golf and 50 percent of our business to be out of golf. We never want to back away from golf being at the center of our DNA, but we also know that growth comes from outside of golf."

The First Call is owned by Buffalo Groupe LLC.