Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thinking "Small Ball"

We talk a lot on this blog about the little things, whether it be the perfect length, cut, fit of a trouser or shirt, well-chosen accessories and detailing that set different apparel companies apart from the rest - wishful thinking that brands will realize that in today's market, many of the consumers that we know of are looking for stories behind a product, tiny performance aspects, personalized service, perhaps even just a taste of nostalgia and heritage in what they are buying. 

The whole idea of "boutiquing" the golf industry is, in fact, wishful and progressive thinking. In actuality, the big boys: the Nikes, the Adidas/TaylorMades - these are the players that are making a killing in clothing sales. There is nothing wrong with that - but it says something about the industry as a whole. Dare I make the argument that many consumers are educated on products, while many merchandisers and stockists are not. 

Many pro shops across the nation aren't given the education necessary to stock their stores with quality product that reflects a filtered version of what is out there and what are the best possible goods to provide to the golfer. This isn't an indication of price, although price does often play a role. That being said, you don't have to spend a lot more to get a lot more in terms of quality, technology, heritage and progressiveness- which translate to overall consumer enjoyment. 

If a pro stocks a shop with the very best and only the best, at every price point - their membership will buy more clothing and look better in the process. That's why I love the idea of online "boutique" golf stores that only buy and stock merchandise that reflects a certain taste level and certain assurance of quality and performance. is a site that immediately comes to mind. is another. (They are making a heavy golf push as of late.)

It is rare to find a golf pro shop stocked like a boutique - in reality you only need a few brands to really merchandise a shop. If you're carrying 3 or 4 top quality apparel companies in a style for every golfer - you're covering your bases. There is no reason to diversify more than that unless you're selling on a huge scale. You have your Peter Millar and Polo Golf for the older generation, RLX, JL and Dunning for the young and the young-at-heart and you're set. (These are, of course, examples...)

Members of all ages want "hip" and current stuff, yet so many merchandisers are afraid to make changes in their seasonal lineups for fear of not moving soft goods. 

Clothing isn't like equipment where you can run with your old war horses for seasons and seasons and continue to sell year after year. Stylish golf clothing is fashion - love it or hate it. It ebbs and it flows and it re-invents itself. Yes, the golf market is often a little behind, but never have we been at a place where the menswear market is more parallel to what's being offered by golf apparel companies. 

Brands like Polo, JL, Dunning, Peter Millar - these guys offer lifestyle collections that can clothe your membership from head-to-toe. All it takes is a little buying savvy and an appreciation and taste level that are going to make your shop stand out. Successful merchandisers know that when people come into the store, they want a quality shopping experience, at any level. If this means having the ability to buy the best $60 shirt on the market, then that's what they should have access to. It's really the golfer's right and the shop's prerogative to not have winter blow-out sales where everything is left from the fall, because the already poor selection has been picked over and dismantled and the shop needs to see some sort of profit. It's a lose-lose for both parties. 

Purchase cool shoes, cool belts, an equal mix of traditionally cut and slimmer, more progressive designs, limited edition stuff, great outerwear, unique "gift" pieces and then bread-and-butter standards. Hell, I say bring in a few pieces for the street or the town... Too risky? That is what consumers are looking for! Carefully chosen suggestions on how to live and look good - on the course or at home. "Boutique" your shop - it will pay off!

If you'd like more information on this and other "off-the-cuff" KC ideas, we're always open for business. Having a better shopping venue for your members will reverberate throughout the club or course experience as a whole. 



Anonymous said...

Do people really want limited edition pieces? It seems to me the buying public are happy as long as they have a large logo on display to show how much they have paid for a garment! The shirts in your picture from J Lindeberg are awful. Who in their right mind would parade around a course with a coffee logo and that of a credit card supplier applied to their shirt? These items have no place in the real world. Show some real class, Ditch the large logo's and show some imagination . Let cut, colour and styling be your king!

The Khaki Crusader said...

Perhaps I wasn't clear or didn't provide proper photo-evidence. The photo of the JL Camilo Tour shirts is a feature that the TPC at Sawgrass did during the Players Championship in their shop - far from my point - but creative nonetheless! I think you'll find we're pretty conservative here and I don't necessarily agree with you on the fact that the general public wants a large logo to show what they've paid. I think educating golfers to the subtle nuances of style should be the goal of any retail establishment and my point is creativity in merchandising and brand selection. If it makes you happy, Anon, I'll take that photo out of the mix!

Anonymous said...

KC, you and I are in a minority. Golfers love a logo believe me, especially here in the UK. The JL tour collection is always the 1st to leave the pro shop. I bet Polo can't make enough of the large pony shirt! We my friend live in a state of nostalgic utopia. Our inspiration is romantic with more than a nod to the past. Don't get me wrong we love to stay sharp with a modern twist. But we don't represent the masses. Hence your name! Far from knocking you, sign me up for the crusade. Keep up the good work.

Patricia Hannigan said...

The whole idea of mass customization seems to resonate... in golf as well as in... other domains. Footjoy with the My Footjoy's concept, and PUMA with the Mongolian Barbeque (?) concept are examples. Both allowed customers to customize with color variations. It's amazing how much people enjoy that ... with a marketing, design and IT team in place they can get tons of marketing mileage out of such thing by having contests, votes and galleries. The problem for the smaller manufacturers is that they rarely have a team in place, so vital elements they need to display, distribute and market their products are always missing. And it's left to the big guys to tell us what we like ... and we in most cases, we believe them. :o\

Bp4life said...

Working at a up scale private club i see my members come in every day and ask for the most basic things, they dont want modern or slim cuts or even colors hell they dont even want stripes. The head pro dresses with the best and has great style and tries to bring it into the shop but at the end of every year we have nothing but color and stripes left in the shop...