Oh it’s a strange day – New Order “Truth” 1981
Depending on the manufacturer, I normally approach the “unveiling” of a new product launch in the same, unbiased manner. Some manufacturers simply churn out new product because they almost have to. I say this because these manufacturers need constant new product to keep their prime shelf positions with high foot-traffic in the big box stores (regardless of whether the new product is an improvement to their former product lines). The introduction of new product also allows (under normal/non-pandemic circumstances) the big box/online retailers to then discount those products still cluttering the shelves to start the same old cycle. Don’t get me wrong, this is just the natural course of business. Maintain the prime shelf space in the big box stores that have the most foot traffic and then spiff the hourly employees as a financial incentive to help move your product.
Well retailers, those “business as usual” days are done. Consumers in our industry are younger, do their research, and fully understand the benefits of custom fitting. It still amazes me how someone can walk into a big box store (or online) and drop a couple thousand dollars buying “stock” equipment because all the gimmicky vendor/retailer marketing literature encourages you to do so. Well retailers, fast forward to our current environment and you can all pretty much throw that playbook right into the trash.
Today we are faced with record high demand for anything golf related, ranging from tee-times to equipment. Industry insiders are projecting that this demand will only continue to increase. Based on these industry projections, manufacturers will primarily be focusing on their respective new/hopeful/upcoming product launches, along with being able to maintain the manufacturing, production, and delivery of these clubs to the hungry golf consumer.
I’ve been harping on about this all year, but I can tell you manufacturers are now sweating bullets regarding production time-lines now that a significant (if not majority) of the manufacturing plants in south-east Asia are in some form of temporary closure. I’m not going to point fingers, but there are certain manufacturers that will be prepared for this beginning late fall into next spring, and most others who will still be playing catch-up. In the coming days/weeks we will be posting new product launches from manufacturers who simply have their acts together. Across the board, don’t expect to see current product lines being discounted due to new product launches. Basically, manufacturers will only be focusing on the production and distribution of new/upcoming lines and those current lines will no longer be produced going forward. Forget the introduction of new products at the PGA trade-show early next year. Manufacturers will begin debuting new lines as early as this fall once they have their “ducks in a row” to be able to fulfill the onslaught of projected orders. Manufacturers now realize that “first to market” strategy will be paramount to their mid and long-term success. Those manufacturers that are prepared will quickly elevate to “best in class” while others will simply go away (expect to see consolidation in this industry beginning as early as this winter).
In summary, some manufacturers will be pushing new inferior product to simply meet demand (quantity vs quality) while others will be introducing new product lines that actually outperform their current/past product lines. Other ill-prepared manufacturers will simply not introduce new product. Rest assured that we at Hodson Golf are here to weed through these new lines, and those that don’t meet our standards will simply not be put into our fitting lineup. I just hope that by next spring we actually have multiple product lines to offer that meet our performance standards, and that can be ordered/built/delivered within a timely manner.