While surfing is part of the Australian identity, it is also a business and a job. In the meantime, surfing has grown into a global phenomenon with the use of its image in selling different products. Many people in Australia enjoy surfing and thus associate it with the pleasant feeling they get from surfing. Therefore, surfing forms popular culture in Australia, and thus marketers use its influence in improving their sales through marketing promotions. The culture of surfing in Australia has been the center of attention from citizens of different lifestyles for a long time. Australians have adopted the surf as a popular pass time resulting in international legends such as Nat Young and Layne Beachley. The culture of surfing has also resulted in production of globally known brands of surf wear (Lovat, et. al, 1994).
Surfing was a lucrative business and leisure pastime for Australians. On the one hand, there was a ban for swimming in the sea, whereas Australians enjoyed the freedom of the beach and the waves. At first, the contradiction resulted in tension between the people who enjoyed surfing and the lifesaver clubs that had the duty to ensure their safety. Changes in the culture have been a permanent issue with the early association of surfing to freedom and rebellion (Ford & Brown, 2006). On the other hand, consequences of the Vietnam War led to and were especially significant in drugs addiction, thus resulting in dropping people out from the society to towns along the coastline. However, some entrepreneurs were quick to realize an opportunity for business through the production and sale of wetsuits and board shorts in their backyards (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2009).
Status of surfing rose in the late 1960s, and the connection between the drugs and surf culture became more dominant. Surfing films and magazines became common items as a way of documenting and communicating the rising culture. This trend continued into the 1970s; however, the 1980s brought about a major change in surfing and its perceptions. Successful surfers have become a significant motivation for many young people since then. Surfing has become portrayed as as professional sports, turning around its association with drugs and fighting. The image of surfing has changed vigorously in the twenty first century with women being more involved professionally in surfing and winning the world awards. This propelled the formation of board riding clubs by sport fans, both men and women (Angeli, 1992).
The general feeling towards surfing is the living for the moment. However, the culture has developed into a global business perpetuated through the media. Products and paraphernalia associated with surfing have created a global business that generates about 7 billion dollars annually. Globally powerful companies such as Billabong, Rip Curl, and Quick Silver control this industry. The change in the nature of the surfing culture caused a conflict of interest between the surfers-by-soul and the money-oriented surfers that were promoting the sale of clothing and equipment. Companies such as Coca Cola and Motorola use surfers’ images in their marketing strategies (Flint, 1999).
Changes in the nature of sports made surfing more aggressive using shorter boards that are quicker, and thus enables showing advanced techniques. This development contrasted to the original philosophy of surfing as a way of in incorporating a graceful and fluid attempt to match the waves. The best surfers gain the respect and adoration of their fans and the issues of localism are common with many local surfers unwelcoming new surfers in their territory (Ford & Brown, 2006).
In Australian culture, surfing is a common recreation time thus businesses see the opportunity to utilize it in their marketing strategies. Even people who are not surfers support the surf culture. It is normal to see people wearing mambo t-shirts, Hawaiian shirt, or a sarong. About 11% of Australians enjoy beach recreation while worldwide there are close to 17 million active surfers. Acceptance of the surfing culture in the global scene goes beyond the countries that have coastlines. Landlocked countries may access this international culture. Wave pools and beach parties are noteworthy events and places that allow people experience surf culture (Flint, 1999).
The culture promoted by the sport of surfing is accessible to everybody who shares the attitudes and values of surfers through international consumer products. Surf equipment including surfboards and wet suits is a tremendous business in the international market. Surf tourism is also a popular consumer product with many tourists preferring remote locations for surfing and relaxation (Angeli, 1992). Surfers’ uniform is popular consumer products for identifying with the surf culture. In Australia, the annual market for surf related clothing is at $230 million and respective equipment and accessories at about $100 million annually (NSW Government, 2008).
Surf magazines are the most popular surfing lifestyle marketing tools in the global market. These magazines mostly target the youth and advertise all sorts of surfing equipment, accessories, and other items from multinational corporations. The magazines promote the surfers sponsored by corporations to exotic locations to have outstanding surfing experience. Magazines also use sexual images of young women as a strategy for marketing items to teenage males. Other magazines market products to the older soul surfers. This is a sign of segmentation in the market and different strategies address the different market needs (Marsh, 1997).
In conclusion, businesses utilize the Australian identity associated with surfing as iconic status in marketing products, both in Australia and other parts of the world.