Mizuno has announced what it terms a ‘Quiet Revolution’ in retail channel relationships. Here Tony Scott, Golf Marketing Manager for Mizuno UK, outlines what this means in practice for the company’s retail policies
At Mizuno we recognise that golf retail is currently going through a tough period with increased competitiveness as areas of the industry experience year on year shrinkage. However we believe we can help retailers find a way through these tough times by remaining true to our values and offering stability.
Key pillars of Mizuno’s business philosophy are:
Hardware product life cycles
As a golfer there’s nothing worse than seeing your recent purchase replaced after a year or in the case of drivers as little as six months. All Mizuno hardware has a minimum of a two year life span; the Titanium muscle-back MP-59 iron was in the range for nearly three and a half years. We take up to six years to develop new products and we only launch them when we know we have made significant improvements and progress. We want Mizuno golfers to trust both our product quality and our brand philosophy; product longevity is key to this.
Custom fit service
Our business is geared around custom fit, and to support that we have what is recognised in the industry as the best fitting cart and exclusive Swing DNA and fitting software. We quote a seven day turnaround on custom fit products, but the reality is closer to four or five days. Our custom availability is industry-leading, with over 95 percent of all options in stock and ready to build at all times. We supply all of our accounts with weekly updates detailing head availability, and should a product ever be delayed we’ll contact our retail partner to advise them of the shipment date. ‘Keep it simple’ is our aspiration with custom fitting, and a key part of having no upgrade prices on steel shafts.
Through a consultation process our Area Sales Managers work with our retail partners to establish a level of commitment that works for both parties. While we want our retailer partners to showcase our products we don’t expect them to be our warehouse. Stocking is greatly de-risked for our retailers through our innovative Iron Display Package.
No SMU hardware
We believe that SMU (special make-up) products devalue and undermine a brand’s position, furthermore they confuse the golfer about what is current in a range and where a brand sits in the market – are you a premium brand or not? By their nature SMUs drive ASP down which is not a great business model in a tough market. At Mizuno we don’t supply SMU product – all our products are core to the range and available to every account.
Clearance is always a thorny subject, and there’s nothing more frustrating for a golfer than to see their recent purchase crashed in price because a brand can’t get their forecasting right. Top trustworthy brands minimise clearance, and through good forecasting we keep it to an absolute minimum.
All of this is meaningless if your products are inferior, and at Mizuno we invest huge sums of time and energy in product development. “Our primary concern is producing the best product,” says Shinya Matsushita, director of Mizuno’s Golf division. “Our first, second and even third pound is spent on product R&D and investigating new technologies. Our company has grown through creating the best products in the market – and this will remain our priority.” As such all our products are tour ready – what you stock is exactly the same product as our tour players use, with everything designed to the same tour standard regardless of a golfer’s playing ability.
Our irons are exclusively forged in Japan by craftsmen at the same plant we have used for over 50 years. Perfect examples of our technology driven products are the new JPX-850 and JPX-850 forged irons, delivering incremental distance gains through technological developments as opposed to simply lengthening the shaft and strengthening the loft.