We caught up with TaylorMade Golf’s Brand Director, Paul Hitchenor, to discuss how the brand has tackled the complexity of 2020 and their plans for success with their customer base for 2021.
This year has been unbelievably tough for obvious reasons. What has unfolded this year no-one could have predicted, but the way our staff and customers have rallied together to get through this together is inspirational to see and we are now seeing the fruits of this camaraderie. Health and safety was, and will remain, our number one priority for our staff, customers and consumers. We moved very quickly to put in place several new measures and procedures that will continue to remain in place for the foreseeable future.
During the height of the pandemic we also put in place a series of retailer support packages that were universally welcomed. Since golf successfully reopened, we have been seeing nothing short of a golf ‘boom’. As we now transition into winter and more regional or national lockdowns occur, we’re committed to continuing to work with all our customers to come through this next period of a rollercoaster year.”
“Almost all consumer goods industries have experienced product planning challenges. Golf participation was in full lockdown when we initially placed production orders for the first wave of our new autumn products such as the new P-Series Irons, so forecasting and planning against future demand was always going to be difficult at that time. We projected a strong bounce back, but the level of demand for all product has been far greater than we could have imagined. In fact, in the last 6 weeks we have sold more drivers than we did in the final 6 months of 2019. Similarly, we have sold more SIM irons in the last 8 weeks than we did M5/M6 irons in the last 6 months of 2019. Like some of our retail partners, we have had record month after record month ever since June.
Frustratingly our supply on some product lines right now is not meeting the demand, but rest assured we are doing the very best we can to catch up. To prepare ourselves for this continued demand surge as we look ahead into 2021, we are investing massively now into our custom club production capabilities. From Spring next year we will have increased our daily custom build output by 50%, whilst still maintaining the highest quality standards.
One of the statistics we are most proud of is that thanks to the fantastic partnership we have with our customers, according to Golf Datatech, we have become the clear bestselling club brand in the UK this year.”
Fitting Events and Point of Sale Uplifts
At the start of 2020 TaylorMade expanded its UK and Ireland Fitting Event team in order to improve the service provided to their trade partners. However, once golf retail then reopened the company recognised that many retailers were seeing unprecedented levels of demand, prompting them to yet again expanded their Fitting team.
“We understood that many retailers were trying to recoup many weeks of lost revenue due to Covid-19, so we recruited another five Experiential Technicians to further support our customers. Our expanded Experiential team has enabled us to host over 100 more fitting events per month. In total we will have completed double the number of Experiential events for our customers in 2020 vs. last year.”
TaylorMade also made a significant Investment into new state of the art POS fixtures at the beginning of 2020 which meant that over 600 customers across the UK & Ireland received brand new POS as part of their pre-book.
“The feedback we have received on our new Illuminated Slatwall Displays has been amazing. When installing these premium POS solutions, we are seeing customers increase their TaylorMade business by an average of +23%. More of these powerful selling tools are available to existing and new customers. I encourage customers interested to speak to their Area Sales Manager whilst stocks last. Ready for 2021 we will also be making a further huge POS investment across all product categories, we will be better prepared than ever to offer our retail partners best in class POS to help stimulate sell-through in their stores.”
Eyes on the Tour
Tour presence helps validate brands and product performance on the biggest stage and at the time of writing, 4 out of the Top 5 players in the OWGR use a full bag of TaylorMade equipment plus the company’s flagship TP5/X golf ball.
Since the PGA TOUR the restart in June, SIM drivers have helped win 50% of the tournaments (at the time of writing). A stat that could surprise a few is that TaylorMade putters have a win percentage of 55% on the PGA TOUR since the restart. “We know Tour validation has a direct impact at retail, many consumers see what is played on Tour and want to play or try the same products that successful Tour players do, it drives traffic into pro shops.”
Although for most 2020’s extended season is still in full swing, full attention will soon turn to 2021 planning. Paul explained that TaylorMade’s 2021 offering is designed to be as retailer friendly as possible.
“Our 2021 pre-book terms and product packs are simpler and more flexible than they have ever been. Our 4-month split payment dating on invoices for pre-books was put in place in response to our customers telling us cash flow was an area they needed support and especially at the beginning of the season.
I don’t believe we have ever offered more support to our retail partners in terms of fitting events, training tools and merchandising solutions to drive sell out. Major investments in our service teams, custom and delivery capabilities also mean we are easier to do business with than ever before.”