I’ve never been a big believer in tour players using certain brands being the ultimate method of swaying consumers to purchase clubs.
That’s not to say that tour presence isn’t important. It’s just one ingredient in a potpourri of factors that affect the buying decisions of consumers, but not the major ingredient.
Associating your company with success is a good marketing tool, so it’s understandable that, say, Callaway would point out in its ads that the first two major winners this year were using its products. I’d do the same thing in that situation.
The association of companies with tour players is widespread across the golf industry, with different manufacturers claiming the No. 1 driver on tour or the No. 1 iron on tour.
Every Monday, my inbox receives several e-mails from various companies to let me know that one of their staff players was victorious on one of the tours. I even received one recently about somebody winning after trying a new pair of a company’s socks.
So, association with the highest levels of the game is a common marketing tool in the golf industry, but here in Canada, golf has the highest participation rate among all sports and that participation rate is among the highest in the world, per capita.
So, I believe that a lot of the major influences on a golfer’s buying decisions are at the grassroots level. Sure, there’s interest in the tours, but golf is more of a recreation than a spectator sport in this country.
So, let’s take a look at some influences that a golfer might meet when he’s away from the television.
Brand Loyalty: Golfers build a comfort zone with certain brands over the years. Once they’re in that comfort zone, it’s difficult to break through the perimeter and lure them to another brand.
Friends: If a golfer is going to change brands, it might be due to hearing buddies talk about what’s in their bags. That golfer might ask to try a friend’s driver or wedge and, if it works, the person might be tempted to change brands.
Advice from professionals/golf shop personnel: Equipment companies understand the importance of getting their products into golf shops around the country, but it’s important to strike a relationship with the professional or golf shop personnel in order to get them to promote the product through shop placement, demo days and perhaps even playing a brand themselves.
The Internet: Message boards, chatrooms and websites are offering golfers insights into the technology of clubs and how they perform. While it may be done through a computer, the opinions expressed are quite often coming from the grassroots level.
Associating themselves with the highest levels of golf is a way for golf club manufacturers to get their messages to the masses, but it’s just part of the puzzle. The under-rated, and perhaps ultimate, influences could be occupying driving ranges, golf courses and golf shops.
That brings us to the topic of this week’s GNN Poll.
How would you describe tour presence as an influence on sales in your shop?
Is it critical to success?
Is it important, but no more than any other factor?
Is it not important?
Be sure to drop by the GNN Poll on the home page and feel free to expand on your thoughts in the comments section below.