How does Mizuno’s success on America’s PGA Tour – it has been the No 1 iron for six straight years, based on the Darrell Survey – translate into sales success?
To address that problem, Mizuno introduced a new range of clubs at the PGA merchandise Show in Orlando including a new line of T.P.Mills putters which use a special forging process to ensure a soft, solid and consistent feel.
“That’s our challenge from a marketing point of view,” said President Bob Puccini. “It’s up to us to capitalise, to establish that position of leadership (in the public consciousness).”
To do that means, first and foremost, identifying the reason for Mizuno’s strength in the professional ranks.
“Why have we been No 1?” Puccini asked. “The answer is in forging technology. That sets us apart from everybody else.” And has, for many years.
Mizuno, based in Norcross, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, are changing their strategy and tactics in the United States. They have brought their sales force in-house and taken a three-year approach to building a foundation for the long-term.
The quandary is how to combat the perception that forgings – Mizuno’s bread-and-butter product – are for better players only and do not include many of the game-improvement features so prevalent today in the marketplace. That’s not all bad. The image of the best players using their product is a plus, but Mizuno want to put across the message that their clubs offer quality workmanship and materials for golfers of all levels, and those features will not be compromised.
“We try not to be everything to everybody,” Puccini said. “We want to build a brand, not chase revenue. We’re aligning ourselves with our core competency.” For Mizuno, that means doing forgings better than anybody else and using that as their marketing tool because, Puccini said, “when it comes to product, we win if we focus on our products.”
Jeff Fiorini, vice-president of marketing, said the PGA Tour numbers – 89 top-10 finishes in 1999 and No 1 in total iron count with 1,215 sets in play at all events) – are a “very strong” platform to build on.
In six seasons, 1994-1999, players using Mizuno irons have won 37 tournaments and more than $73 million in prize money. The 1999 US Amateur champion, the Mid-Amateur champion and NCAA Division One champion also used Mizuno irons. Five of the last seven NCAA Division One champions have used the irons. Indeed, the numbers are impressive.
Mizuno’s new products for 2000 include:
*Pro 300S driver features a four-piece clubhead made of Strong Forged Beta Titanium which enables the manufacturer to make a thinner uniform face thickness. The result is a spring-like effect that generates greater initial ball velocity for increased distance. “This driver is long,” said Jim Safrit, director of marketing. “And who isn’t looking for more distance? Certainly, the average player is.”
*T-Zoid Forged driver, with CORTECH face design, also has a four-piece forged titanium construction. CORTECH stands for Coefficient of Restitution Technology which has a dual face thickness that is thinner in the area closest to the heel. This allows the designers to increase the flex of the clubface without sacrificing strength.
*T-Zoid Forged utility woods, also with CORTECH, have a specially-designed rail and bounce channels on the sole for stability and to reduce turf drag. The rail design lowers the centre of gravity to help the fairway woods into the air. Available with both graphite and steel shafts.
*A new line of putters by T.P.Mills, the legendary putter designer. The putters are crafted from 1025 Mild Carbon Steel using an exclusive Grain Flow Forging process to ensure a soft, solid and consistent feel. The new putters feature a computer-milled face and cavity for tight tolerances. The finish is a nonglare pewter.
These products are central to Mizuno’s goal of getting its message to the consumer. “We’ll do our best not to let you down,” Puccini said. “We can win the battle. We’re very excited about the battle. Mizuno is gearing up to get its message across.”