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Why is TaylorMade Releasing So Many Damn Clubs?

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Earlier this week, TaylorMade Golf announced that their newest driver, the JetSpeed, will hit store shelves in December. The new club series (which includes fairway woods and hybrids, as well) marks the fourth "new" driver series from the company this season (R1, RocketBallz Stage 2, SLDR and now JetSpeed.) Four new drivers. One calendar year. How in the world does that make any damn sense?

The newest joke on Twitter that evolved once news broke of the JetSpeed should have been expected: "If you missed out on the newest driver from TaylorMade, just wait a week for the next one." Har har. The internet is funny. Try the veal.

Surely there is a method to TaylorMade's madness, right? After all, they are by far one of the most popular golf equipment brands in the game and have been in more PGA Tour winner's bags than the majority of their competitors. Plus, the release of a new club today means yesterday's "next big thing" will likely experience a hefty drop in retail price, just in time for the holiday season! Shouldn't fans of TaylorMade drivers be jumping up and down for joy?

Perhaps a better question would be why TaylorMade is saturating the golf club market with their products in the first place. For more information on that, I turn your attention to a wonderful article by Tony Covey of MyGolfSpy.com, who sums it all up quite nicely.

If you’re a golf company, the surest way to improve sales is to put new equipment on the shelf.

What gets lost in all the outrage over new equipment (above and beyond that fact that from a revenue perspective, it’s a winner) is that none of you are on the same buying schedule?

How often do you replace your driver? Your irons?

How about your friends?

We all buy different product at different times. To account for that, golf companies need to have reasonably new product on the shelves all the time.

New product isn’t for the guy who just bought last year’s stuff. New product is for the guy who didn’t. If you happen to hook the guy who did just buy, well…that’s what we call a bonus.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Titleist’s metalwood market share is going to dip in 2014. Why? It’s not because Titleist drivers suddenly got worse. It’s because Callaway, and TaylorMade, and PING, and Nike, and Cobra, and, and, and…will all have newer drivers on the shelf.

Even if you may rationalize it differently, for the majority of consumers, newer is better. And even if you aren’t willing to except that, the reality is that newer outsells older, and that’s what really matters.

I couldn't have said any of the above any better myself, so I didn't. Great job by Tony.

Another way to look at this marketing campaign and business model by TaylorMade is from the consumer's perspective. Simply put, the average golfer does not need the latest and greatest equipment to be happy. In fact, the company's R11 from 2012 is just as good -- at least in the untrained eye of the recreational golfer -- as anything that was released this season. You can also find last year's driver in the bargain bin of your local golf shop, which is an added plus. So why does the consumer care about the R1, the SLDR or the new JetSpeed?

It's all about hitting every demographic at just the right time. In a way, it's the same model used by Apple and Samsung with the release of their new smartphones seemingly once every few months: if someone didn't buy your new product today, they might buy a different one in a few months.

Back to Tony:

Even if there really is absolutely no performance difference (never true, they’re always different – different doesn’t always mean better) from one season’s driver to the next, that argument ignores the fact that even under the best of scenarios, 97% of the population didn’t buy the previous model.

Just because you bought a new driver this year, or last year, or even the year before, it doesn’t mean everybody else did. Hell, I can promise you that the tremendous majority of golfers didn’t buy a new driver this year.

And that, my friends, makes sense every way you look at it.

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