Why TaylorMade Should Not Release A New Driver

With the launch of the M1, TaylorMade made a return to something that reminded golfers that they could still be bold, fresh and full of technology. Over the last twelve months, the company has been plagued by poor sales (in relation to projections), large layoffs and even the talk of the company being sold. The debut of the M1 line of metal woods, took the brand from having the media discuss the doom and gloom and brought it back to discussing a piece of equipment that golfers are purchasing.

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With sales increasing at a rapid rate for the company, and the PGA Merchandise Show quickly approaching, rumors are swirling that the next driver will be launched. This new product would not be a replacement for the M1, but actually compliment it from a price stand point and fall in line where the previous AeroBurner model was. The AeroBurner line featured new technology and was liked by many readers of THP, but it failed to meet the goals set for the register by the company.  Where there is smoke, there is fire and with the expectations of a new driver on the horizon buzzing around the “net”, is it a good idea?

In a general sense, having a complimentary product that hits a price point in a brand’s metal woods lineup is a good idea. Many companies use this model (both in and out of golf) and it works to make sure there is equipment for all golfers based not only on performance, but also dollars and cents. So what is the issue? Why should TaylorMade be held to a different standard?

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The answer is actually rather simple. The M1 has righted the ship and done well both at stores and reviews. While the previous lines struggled to gain traction (compared to expectations), the M1 has moved the needle on buzz and people are buying it. Instead of cannibalizing it, TaylorMade should feature it, promote it and put it on a throne.

Over the last few years, TaylorMade Golf has released a number of quality drivers. R1, RBZ Stage 2, SLDR, SLDR-S, R15, AeroBurner, JetSpeed and quite a few others. Most of these releases were well made and worked as described for the segment of golfers they were intended  for by design. Some of them sold ridiculously well, others not so well, but each one was released and marketed as a top notch product that most golfers currently know about.

By now you are asking yourself is this a rambling bunch of nonsense or is there a point to be made? There is, and we are getting there, so bear with me.  Back to that list of drivers that were released and keep in mind that they have been discounted to a point of great value. Inventory control and management was not something the brand did particularly well over that period of time, and because of that, stores have a large number of TaylorMade products on shelves.  Pricing of each product ranges from about $99 to $499 for the flagship M1. Walking into a golf store, you will see TaylorMade drivers with sliding weights, turning heads, MWT (moveable weight technology) and so much more priced to fit any budget imaginable.

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If a consumer goes into a golf store and looks around the TaylorMade racks, they have an abundance of clubs to choose from because inventory is still packed. The brand has marketed the M1 extremely well, they caught lightning in a bottle with the major win and have continued to pick up steam with a strong message and a product that people are enjoying. Retailers have said that inventory has been an issue in the past and TaylorMade was specifically mentioned in the “doom and gloom” reporting that was mentioned earlier.  What many miss is that it has little to do with the amount of releases made by a company and everything to do with how that company handles the management of product inventory.

So the original question was asked, why release another product? The answer in this instance might be not to do that very thing. Keep marketing the flagship product of M1 as the best product in the lineup, all of the while assist the retail partners you rely on of cleaning their shelves by having the remaining products stay “in line” at the current discounted price without any further cuts. This allows golfers to focus on the premium M1, and allows shops everywhere to do the same, all the while getting caught up with the previous hiccups.

Inventory control is real and with the early success of M1, TaylorMade Golf has a chance to make a bold move and run with their lineup as is and have both golfers and stores talking about it for a complete cycle on its own, as the premium driver in the lineup.

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Josh Babbitt

http://thehackersparadise.com

Josh is the Publisher of The Hackers Paradise and co-founder of THP Media with his wife Morgan Babbitt. Together they share a passion for golf, and they travel the country in the THP Tour Van bringing their love and knowledge of the game to golfers everywhere.

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44 Comments

  • Nice article Josh. And it makes perfect sense…..focus on what is working at the moment and take the opportunity to learn from recent lessons learned.

  • This makes a ton of sense to me – you can se some parallels to this strategy in what Apple does with the iPhone. New one comes out, last year’s model is still available at a discounted price. Not a perfect analogy, of course, but this seems like it would keep everyone happy. Retailers can unload the Aeroburner/JetSpeed/R15s they have and the price point is still covered.

  • Well written article JB. Just goes to show that access inventory is waste and no matter if its a quality product or not, if it is taking up space its hurting you.

  • Couldn’t agree more.
    Good read.

  • Good article Josh. I wonder if TaylorMade needs to explore a one time buy-back from the retailers to clean out a portion of that backlogged inventory.

  • Did you guys review the M1?

  • Yes Jlukes (Unbiased), there is THP info in the forum and the home page review hits soon. It will also be featured in Club Clash.

  • Completely agree Josh. Great article.

  • Great article JB. Hits the nail on the head and makes perfect sense

  • It’s tough to argue with the points made here. Taylormade needs to realize the effect of having too many models on the floor at any given time frame, especially when for many golfers there won’t be a huge performance gap between the 2013, 2014, and 2015 model. The M1 is rock solid and that wave needs to be ridden and milked for all it’s worth; part of that is giving the M1 line every chance to succeed by not starting a new ad campaign or cluttering the shelves with yet another name.

  • Awesome article, and I agree. TM has a winner on their hands with the M1. With Cobra nipping at their heels with the new drivers coming out, they should stick with what works and what sells. TM’s best move at this point would be getting fitting carts EVERYWHERE–the M1 really shines when you get the right shaft for your swing. Can’t wait to see the THP in-depth review!

  • The Aeroburner is a great club and completely different from M1, it would play 2nd fiddle very well for at least 6 months to a year. This keeps the two line strategy and helps retailers clean house.

    Great article

  • Some very solid points Josh. I think if there is a time for TM to get back into the game (financially) they need to lean on this release and let it run a while longer. Absolutely correct that they need to learn about past mistakes and embrace the fact that inventory control will go a long way in bringing back some of the shine they’ve lost.

  • Nice article. Some good arguments made against releasing a new driver. I tend to agree that they would be better off not releasing a new driver model.

  • I think it makes sense for TMAG to ride the success of the M1 as long as possible. But the truth is the $500 tag will scare some people off.

    That’s why they most likely will have another driver come out, Im guessing in $350 range. But as pointed out by JB, that hasn’t always been successful in the past.

    It will be interesting to see what they do at the show.

  • Great read Josh, well put.

  • Well said JB. As said earlier TM should ride the success of the M1

  • Solid points all around. Would love to see Taylormade right the ship and do better. Nice article!

  • Really liked the M1 compared to recent models of Taylormade products that I’ve tried.

    Really good article. I wonder where TM stands with inventory levels of their previous lines and what their long term MD strategy is.

  • Great article Josh and couldn’t agree more – inventory control will absolutely help them and stick with what is working (The M1)

  • Too many choices can be a bad thing. Why buy an M1, when an R15 beside it is marked down, or a SLDR, or a JetSpeed, or whatever old TM gear is still on the rack beside it.

    A shop here still has SpeedBlades on the rack for full price, beside all of the new TM iron offerings (Not including PSi that isn’t even on the shelves here).

    Too many choices, too many price points, too confusing.

  • Great article Josh. I really hope that TM rides the M1 for awhile. There a several good reasons NOT to launch a new driver right now and “that’s the way we always do it” should top their list.

    BTW: Glad to see you’re back writing again.

  • Makes perfect sense Josh, great article.

  • Not sure I get the point being made by the article. TM are not doing anything different from what Callaway are doing or indeed Cobra. Why single them out for the critique? Aeroburner has been out for over a year by now and will no doubt get refreshed in the new year. Great! The new line and the M1 line can co-exist no problem while the R15 and the Aeroburner line get discounted and moved on.

    Why is this any different from Callaway? Indeed if the point of the article is to call out those manufacturers that are releasing too much product into a saturated market then Callaway is equally, if not more, guilty…I’ve lost count how many bertha lines there are available now and of course add in the XR line that will surely be updated around the same time as the TM Aeroburner line. Golf stores are equally swamped with old Callaway inventory as they are with TM!

    You had an interesting point to make with this article but imo you missed the mark somewhat by only focusing on TM.

  • Scotty,
    Read over the article again. Its not bashing TaylorMade and definitely not anti multiple releases. Its about inventory control and how they have a solid product now.

    If it was only R15 and Aeroburner there would be no issues. Yet look at the large retailers and see that its not. Its still SLDR, SLDR S, R1 and even Stage 2.

    This could be a huge win for TaylorMade as they have their flagship model again and the buzz is not about the doom and gloom and properly back on a product that people are enjoying.

  • No, I get the point about inventory control, and it’s well made but again you can’t really single out TM in this regard when you have Callaway doing the same thing and swamping the retailers who are struggling to shift each new release while discounting the barely released “old” product.

    Callaway over the last couple of years or so: Bertha, X2 Hot, Bertha Alpha 815, Bertha Alpha 815 Double Black Diamond, Bertha Alpha 816, Betha Alpha 816 Double Black Diamond, XR, Great Big Bertha…how’s that any different to TM?

  • To Scotty,
    There is a big difference between release and inventory. Callaway has released as much, but in limited amounts by comparison and has not left retailers with the same backlog. I agree with the article here.

  • To Dave

    I respectfully disagree – “Callaway has released as much, but in limited amounts”?? Not in my experience wading through the backlog of older Cally releases in every golf store I’ve been in last 3 years. Last 12 months it has got markedly worse as Callaway CEO Chip Brewer carries out his strategy of matching TM release for release. Indeed this year Callaway has finally surpassed TM in pushing out new product on ever-reduced lifecycles while TM has actually paired it back. Some recognition of this would have made the article stronger in its core message of “product saturation + poor inventory management = bad news for retailers (and ultimately the club manufacturers themselves).”

  • Well Scotty,
    You are allowed to disagree, but your small sampling of golf stores does not match the actual numbers and statistics laid out by what the retail stores are saying and what is actually taking place. This is not something that has been eye balled, this is something that is actually measured by both the stores themselves along with the companies and golf datatech.

  • Yup – I do disagree and I’d love to see your data!

  • Scotty,
    It is clear you are passionate about the brand, which is pretty cool. But as someone that agreed with the article, it is not hard to find the data you are requesting out on the internet. Releases are different based on number of units. See Samsung and Apple for examples of this because that is my line of work. Demand is created and then either supplied or over supplied. Go read the articles all over the internet about Dicks sporting goods pulling back on golf and letting go their PGA professionals and see the only company they cite in the articles.

  • Dave,
    You are correct with the above. Its not a secret that Taylormade struggled mightily over the last 18 months. They were forced to let a lot of people go, are on their third CEO, etc. The names list is long. Dean Snell, Harry Arnett, Tom Olsavsky, Dave Cordeo, Heather Spears and so on and so on. Some higher ranking some just good at their job.

    That does not change the fact that they seem to have a great release on their hands and our testing showed a solid step in the right direction, but more importantly a product that people are talking about and buying.

    In the end, we hope it rights the ship for them and feel as though our column highlights why. Inventory control vs leftovers is the biggest detriment here and despite what some want to believe it’s not hard to find the information that says its the case.

    If a company releases a widget and only produces 10 units and they sell out and they repeat these steps 10 times a year, the same people yelling about releases would be doing just that. Compared to a company that releases 1 widget and produces 20,000 of them and then releases another one before the previous sold out.

    As always, the article is an editorial and we knew going in that it would bring conversation. Surprised by a few, but most who have followed the story for the last 18 months or so have read so much about it already it made sense.

    All opinions are welcome and thanks for chiming in.

  • Couldn’t agree more. Well stated Josh.

  • Dave

    I’m no more passionate about TM than I am about Callaway or Ping or any of the others. I play both TM and Callaway clubs and respect both companies for what they do. The points made about poor inventory management are sound but to infer TM as being the biggest culprit in this regard is incorrect. Callaway, with their increased inventory turns, shorter runs of product AND increased product releases are every bit as “guilty” in this regard as TM. Their strategy contributes just as much to over-supply as TM’s did.

    Chip Brewer took over in 2012 with the goal to match TM release for release, he’s been able to do that and more. Ironically, TM have reversed that strategy last 12 months under the latest CEO who has a cost cutting agenda to execute because of the prior over-saturation! In my opinion, Callaway will shortly follow suit and slow down the product releases because retailers are absolutely flooded with their many bertha lines just as much as they were flooded with earlier TM sldr lines etc.

    Finally, Dicks Sporting Goods relationship with Adidas is well documented not just in golf.

  • Scotty,
    The above is just not accurate.

    Interesting part of your message is that you speak of TaylorMade reversing the strategy under their new CEO 12 months ago. TaylorMade has not even had the same CEO in the last 12 months.

    I understand that you do not like or agree with it, but these are not opinions, this is based on retail sales numbers and reports. If you would like them, Golf Datatech sells the reports.

  • All I said was TM’s strategy last 12 months is to slow down the product releases and focus on cost cutting which is what the latest CEO is doing. This is different from Callaway who are continuing to accelerate product releases and are facing the same issues as TM has regards product saturation.

    You are right to point out TM’s failure in recent poor inventory management, which has put retailers under pressure for some time. However to say Callaway has better inventory management is, in my opinion, not true. Last 18 months retailers are now dealing with as much unsold cally product as they are TM. TM are now trying to doing something about that. Again, in my opinion, Callaway will be doing the same thing shortly. Demand for everything they release is just not there. And that’s an industry-wide problem not just a Callaway problem.

  • Scotty,
    No reason to argue with you. What you are saying is not backed up with how sales have gone at retailers. You are basing it on going to a handful of stores which is not applicable to extrapolating numbers. In fact based on market share both on and off course, just about everything above is not accurate.

    The real information is available since you did not believe what was posted in the article. If you would like it can be purchased, which is what THP did to gain access for the information in this article.

    On that note, we will move on. We hope you continue to enjoy the features that are published here and they can be here to give some insight into the club and industry world of golf.

  • Really agree with the article here. Well written.
    I have no issue with lots of releases and am a Taylormade guy through and through. I have purchased every driver they have put out over the past 4 years. I love new releases and fun golf equipment. Based on all of the news that is out there, they have had the biggest problem with inventory control and said to be fixing that with SLDR, but then came and released the SLDR-S shortly after. R15 and Aeroburner slowed it down a touch, but the projections were through the roof for both of them and the mark downs on the latter happened almost as fast as Jetspeed.

    Dicks press call flat out blamed taylormade for this and did not mention a single other company. Another CEO change and hopefully they have finally figured it out. But I am not sold yet and releasing something else especially if its called m2 is a bad mistake.

  • Couldn’t agree more. Love my new m1 and when i went in to get mine, it was next to r15, aeroburner, sldr, jetspeed, sldr-s and sldr-c and there were even both white and black r1 drivers. The store hit every price point starting at 500 bucks and going down to 149 dollars. Next to them each other company had 1-2 drivers on their racks and callaway had 4 (all current but 1). Running with this one until mid season like June would make the most sense.

  • THP, To draw a line under the discussion, I think you need to be more specific on the responses to the points I’ve made. Perhaps show us the numbers you keep referring to. If you purchased the data you will be free to reference and cite accordingly and others can then source the same data, validate and decide if your argument is accurate. Otherwise your responses risk reading as vague and ambiguous. The neutral reader might even think there is an underlying inherent bias towards particular brands not covered under the topic of “inventory management”.

  • Scotty,
    Have you gone back and read your responses? Every single person has said the same thing that THP has. The information is out there, if you want to go get it, instead you just seem to want to argue. Asking a columnist now to provide their source, as if you work for the company being discussed is pretty funny. But the best part is, they did give you the source and now you want even more. If the information was false, a site the size of this one would be in a huge amount of trouble putting this kind of stuff out there.

    I agree with it and am a complete Taylormade homer.

  • Okay guys, no reason to go this route. If Scotty wants to go conspiracy theory, he is welcome to. Tin Foil hats for everybody…I kid I kid.

    While I agree with Dave, as well as just about every other commenter, lets work on the delivery a bit. In the end, we are all golfers that love the game.

    The THP Way is simple.
    Fun
    Education
    Factual

  • TaylorMade Sucks
    Callaway Rules

  • Tailor-made does have a buy back program for their retailers. It is called ARP asset recovery program. Place like Global Golf then buy the clubs from TM and resell.

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