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How Powerful is Brand and Name Recognition Versus Straight Cost?

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I was lying awake at 4:00 am thinking about the power of certain brands on market share and it's taken me some time to formulate my thoughts into a post.

My first example will be from the world of golf to ask the question:  Titleist versus (as an example) Snell for golf balls.  If you removed the labels from both the ProV1 and the comparable Snell ball, and gave it to a dozen golfers, do you think anyone could tell the difference?  I've witnessed so many (rich) high handicappers not even batting an eye when they buy a dozen ProV1 golf balls, even though they probably lose half of them in the woods or water after just a few swings with that ball.  But if you sat every one of these golfers down and handed them two different golf balls without the label, and asked them to hit both and see if they could tell the difference, do you think they could?

I'm honestly not using Titleist and Snell as a specific example, but this is a general theory I am floating for a lot of different things in life.  Earlier in another thread we were talking about Disney, and how expensive it is, and essentially what a rip off it now is to go to their parks.  But attendance is at record numbers and the people continue to fork over tons of cash just for the priviledge of visiting any number of Disney parks and attractions.  But contrast that to a theme park about 90 minutes from my house, where I can get a season pass for around $100 and go as many times as I want and take the family, and you'll get to ride on more roller coasters, and spend more of your time actually riding rides, and doing things, with very little time spent in lines.  But this particular theme park, with some killer roller coasters, lies just off of I-75, and many families will drive right by it on their way to Disney every year.  I can have more fun, riding more rides, at a fraction of the cost, but yet, everyone still goes to Disney?  I don't get it.

Chick Fil A versus Zaxbys.  I've got both of them around the corner from my house in the same shopping center.  Chick Fil A has a major logistics problem as the drive thru line often times doubles around the store, blocking in all parked cars.  Sure, the service is good, and the food is good, but getting in and out of the place is literally dangerous, with so much traffic and so many people coming in and out of their parking lot.  But I can visit Zaxbys right next to them and there's maybe a couple of cars in drive thru, and there is usually not any wait inside the store to purchase a comparable product, where the service and quality of the food is pretty similar.  Chick Fil A gets at least 10 times the business that Zaxbys does on any given day, and that is probably a conservative estimate.  I've personally vowed never to visit Chick Fil A again, due to the insanity of fighting the mob when you go there.  I've started patronizing Zaxbys, and honestly, the service and people working at Zaxbys are the same to me.  If anything, whomever is running Zaxbys by my house gets it, as the kids he's hired go out of their way to match or exceed the customer service you get from Chick Fil A.  But yet, Chick Fil A remains a zoo, and Zaxbys is quiet and not ever that busy.  I don't get it.

Pick your business if you want, but you get my point.  Is brand loyalty and name recognition more important that price and experience?  Same deal with clothes.  Since Ricky Fowler started pimping Puma and brought them back from the dead, how many kids started wearing Puma gear?  Without Fowler does Puma even exist?  Probably a bad example, but I'm a guy who buys his clothes as cheap as I can find them, and brand name doesn't matter to me.

Now I grant you one exception or me to this rule.  I have become very loyal to Skechers shoes in many varieties.  I'll pay a little more for their shoes, but honestly, the comfort of Skechers sets them far apart from their competitors, so I am not even sure if you can use this example.  Now if someone else comes out with a shoe as comfortable and stylish as Skechers and it costs less, count me in.

I'm just curious honestly why certain brands seem to succeed so well, when there are comparable options that compete against them at better prices with the same results or better.

Any thoughts?

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It depends on the industry/market dynamics

 

Golf equipment is a premium/luxury market, so brand recognition and perceived value pull a lot more weight than cost

 

Marketing and brand reputation drive perceived value

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, jlukes said:

It depends on the industry/market dynamics

 

Golf equipment is a premium/luxury market, so brand recognition and perceived value pull a lot more weight than cost

 

Marketing and brand reputation drive perceived value

 

 

 

Yep, it’s most likely why we are seeing Wilson have a driver that’s around the price of the big boys because a lot of people associate price with quality/performance

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It really is a fascinating thing. Talk to people, and to a person, nearly all would claim that advertising has no effect of them. I'm just enough of a market-economy guy to think that, maybe, companies wouldn't flush billions of dollars annually on advertising if, you know, it didn't work.

Brands work for a variety of reasons, not least of which that they become a mental shortcut for identifying some level of quality. This isn't a bad thing. Take @GSwag's golf ball example: how many of us really know whether, of all the balls currently for sale, we're playing the ball that's the absolute best for our game? How could you possibly know that? So we take certain shortcuts, and one of those is immediately disregarding the box of Nitro balls on the shelf at Walmart.

But this can be exploited, because expectations of quality often create experiences of quality. You'll find this in a variety wine-tasting pranks: tell a person that a given wine is pricey, and he'll report that he experiences it as tasting better than a wine he's told is cheap. It's also the premise behind a recent Payless shoes ad campaign:

That idea, that our expectations actually do shape our experiences, makes getting some measure of objective, measurable facts important. That's obviously why many of us are drawn to this site: there's an aspect of this site that revels in showing that Scotty Cameron might just be Palessi, as far as functionality is concerned.

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MGS posted this a while back about Scotty's; 

https://mygolfspy.com/real-scotty-vs-fake-scotty/

Clearly, there is some element of people thinking, "if it says Scotty, its better." Obviously this is not true. All of these people are "brandwashed" into thinking a Scotty is better. So there is a segment of the market where marketing>performance. 

Edited by GB13
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19 hours ago, GB13 said:

MGS posted this a while back about Scotty's; 

https://mygolfspy.com/real-scotty-vs-fake-scotty/

Clearly, there is some element of people thinking, "if it says Scotty, its better." Obviously this is not true. All of these people are "brandwashed" into thinking a Scotty is better. So there is a segment of the market where marketing>performance. 

This could also be attributed to a "look at me" trait many of us possess. A quirk of natural human nature in my view. How many of us would love to sport a Rolex watch just to say "See how rich I am? I roll with a 10k Roller" when a perfectly fine Tag Heuer has the same quality and is 85% less expensive, works just as good and looks almost identical? "But it's a ROLEX!!"..."Yup, it sure is, and ain't it pretty!" you say wondering what better and more practical things you could have done with the "saved" $8,500 rather than blowing it on a stupid watch. Some just gotta have those status symbols I reckon...

Now if you'll excuse me, I gotta take the Limited Edition Escalade back to my gated-community and open up my new set of gold-faced PXG irons and SC Newport with the moon rock finish I had the "help" order for me the other day while on holiday in the Hampton's...

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Outstanding topic! This is something Foz and I were kicking around while playing golf last weekend, so I'm glad someone posted.

First off, I believe one thing: people (meaning the likes of us) are, by our very nature, NOT price buyers. That may sound antithetical to everything we think, believe, hear or read, but there's enough evidence to show that it's true. IF WE WERE PRICE BUYERS, the following would be true:

The Yugo would have been the greatest selling car of all time.

Anyone who works in sales would not be working - as all of whatever it is to sell would be sold by one entity, the one with the lowest price. 

There would be no concept of good-better-best.

There would be no First class, comfort class or any other class on airplanes.

Ruth Cris Steakhouse would not exist.

I could go on, but you get the point. We like to think we're price buyers, but we're not. We may be bargain hunters, but that's not the same thing. Say you're bargain hunting for a golf shirt at a year end sale, and you find the cheapest one possible. Would you buy it if it was butt-ugly and two sizes too small? No, because style and fit are at least as important as price. 

(Sorry if this comes off as pedantic, but I teach a class in this for the day job 😉)

Often time habit and/or comfort is a strong factor in why we buy what we buy. In the example of Chick-Fil-A vs. Zaxby's - logic and convenience says skip the line and hassle at Chick-Fil-A and head over to Zaxby's, but clearly that doesn't happen. It may be a blind loyalty to Chick-Fil-A, and no doubt there are people who love it and wear their Chick-Fil-A-ness as a badge of honor, but it's just as likely, if not more likely, that folks are simply used to going to Chick-Fil-A and tend to be risk-averse. It's easier and more comfortable to go to the place you've been going to - you know what you like, you know what to order and you know what to expect. That consistency of experience is powerful --- it's why you'll often see American tourists in Paris actually eating at a McDonalds - part of it is the oddity of eating a Big Mac in Paris, but the other you pretty much know what you're getting, and it's comforting. Hell, it's why chain restaurants are successful in the first place - when you're on the road and don't know where to eat, familiar is good. It's also why a show like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is popular - it takes a little of the risk out of trying something new when you visit somewhere, because hell, if Guy likes it, it must be safe. 

Tony has an interesting take on drivers, but it can be extended to any golf equipment -- if you look at Callaway, PING, Titleist and TaylorMade - you can consider those "safe" drivers. You know what to expect, you know they're going to perform. Cobra is also on that list, but a tad more fringe. When you start to look at other brands: Srixon, Wilson, Mizuno and others - they're not as safe. You may be taking a bit of a risk buying one of those instead of something you know won't rock the boat and won't suck. Chances are, those drivers will perform every bit as well as any of the others for you. 

And if you think Srixon, Wilson, Mizuno and the others should just lower their prices in order to sell more, well that does not compute. Price makes a statement. High price makes a positive, salutary statement, while low price makes a negative, derogatory statement. You mind says "this one's higher priced, it must be better. Why else would it be higher priced?" And conversely, "this one's lower priced, it must not be as good."

It's interesting whenever we do a blog on PXG or any other premium equipment line (rememberer the P53 blog from last July 4th?), we sit around and wait for the blogosphere to lose its mind about price. The existence of high end, premium-price, premium experience equipment doesn't hurt you, me or anyone, and its existence doesn't mean one lower priced company has to close its doors. It's not a zero-sum game. And there's no evidence to suggest the existence of ultra-premium equipment is keeping people from playing the game.

I don't know if you guys saw this, but Sub-70 golf equipment officially launched its products this week - it's a premium-type experience being sold factory direct online only (a la Hogan), with a limited initial offering. Its business model is VERY Hoganesque: you can only buy online, but they will custom-build your set to any specs you want. A set of forged irons starts at just a tick above $500. So in theory, if everyone thinks golf equipment is too expensive, these guys should clean up, right? They should be raking in the dough hand over fist, right? After all, the other thing we hear in the comments section on the blog and on social media is that marketing is all bullshit and do these golf companies think we're stupid? Logic says Hogan, Sub-70 and others should be on the fast track to Profit Town.

I don't think marketing makes us think a specific product from a specific company will make us a better golfer, I think marketing is designed to make us feel more comfortable giving Callaway $500 for a new driver than we would be giving Mizuno or Wilson $500 for a new driver. That's why you hear about the Cortex - "for that kind of money it better be 20 yards longer than my M4!!!!" And lower the price of the Cortex isn't going to change that comfort equation. 

The point with Hogan or Sub-70 or others - the lower priced options are there. I spoke with an interesting dude at Hireko Golf several months ago and he maintains that, with the same shaft and loft structure, any one of the Hireko-sold irons will perform, for golfers like us, every bit as well as anything you can find from any main stream OEM in the same classification. That's a bold statement, and one I'd love to put to the test. But even if it's not the same, even if it's close - say a Callaway Rogue 7 iron goes 170 yards and the Hireko-made similar iron only goes 167 - would you buy it?

Here's another thing - let's say the Big 5 iron set is $1,200, and you could get a comparable set custom-made to your specs with your shaft from, say, Sub-70, for $600. My guess is people would rather wait and buy the $1,200 set either used or discounted to, say, $800 than buy the unknown name for $600 brand new and custom built. 

Why? Comfort and safety. A $600 dollar set of irons is a $600 dollar set of irons in our eyes. But a $1200 dollar set of irons marked down to $800? Bargain!!!!

Sorry for the rant, boys. It's raining and I've been listening to Lewis Black on Spotify all morning...

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Great Topic!

Nice youtube video posted by @GolfSpy MPR confirming if its expensive it MUST be quality!

 

A social experiment here in London had a streetseller selling genuine £10 notes for £5! he literally sold about 3 as everyone assumed they were fake as they werent the right value.

I do accept though that the Major OEM's do have good quality and excellent CS and thats worth paying for in my book.

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3 minutes ago, perseveringgolfer said:

Great Topic!

Nice youtube video posted by @GolfSpy MPR confirming if its expensive it MUST be quality!

 

A social experiment here in London had a streetseller selling genuine £10 notes for £5! he literally sold about 3 as everyone assumed they were fake as they werent the right value.

I do accept though that the Major OEM's do have good quality and excellent CS and thats worth paying for in my book.

I've heard of a similar story here - guy had a roadside farm stand and was selling tomatoes. He had two bins - one bin was marked 50 cents per tomato, the other marked $1 per tomato. These were the same tomatoes, they weren't separated by size, quality or anything. The $1 tomatoes sold out in no time. When the bin was empty, he took tomatoes out of the 50 cent bin and put them in the dollar bin, and sold out again. 

Price makes a statement...even when it comes to tomatoes.

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2 hours ago, PING Apologist #9 said:

This could also be attributed to a "look at me" trait many of us possess. A quirk of natural human nature in my view. How many of us would love to sport a Rolex watch just to say "See how rich I am? I roll with a 10k Roller" when a perfectly fine Tag Heuer has the same quality and is 85% less expensive, works just as good and looks almost identical? "But it's a ROLEX!!"..."Yup, it sure is, and ain't it pretty!" you say wondering what better and more practical things you could have done with the "saved" $8,500 rather than blowing it on a stupid watch. Some just gotta have those status symbols I reckon...

Maybe it's just the training the Marine Corps put into me, but I'm not stupid enough to buy or let alone wear a Rolex.  I'd be too afraid of it getting stolen, liften, taken, or whatever.  Plus, my iPhone tells perfect time.  Rolex is about the most impractical item on planet earth.

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29 minutes ago, GolfSpy Barbajo said:

I've heard of a similar story here - guy had a roadside farm stand and was selling tomatoes. He had two bins - one bin was marked 50 cents per tomato, the other marked $1 per tomato. These were the same tomatoes, they weren't separated by size, quality or anything. The $1 tomatoes sold out in no time. When the bin was empty, he took tomatoes out of the 50 cent bin and put them in the dollar bin, and sold out again. 

Price makes a statement...even when it comes to tomatoes.

that's hilarious.  Sad, true and hilarious.

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42 minutes ago, GolfSpy Barbajo said:

The point with Hogan or Sub-70 or others - the lower priced options are there. I spoke with an interesting dude at Hireko Golf several months ago and he maintains that, with the same shaft and loft structure, any one of the Hireko-sold irons will perform, for golfers like us, every bit as well as anything you can find from any main stream OEM in the same classification. That's a bold statement, and one I'd love to put to the test. But even if it's not the same, even if it's close - say a Callaway Rogue 7 iron goes 170 yards and the Hireko-made similar iron only goes 167 - would you buy it?

Here's another thing - let's say the Big 5 iron set is $1,200, and you could get a comparable set custom-made to your specs with your shaft from, say, Sub-70, for $600. My guess is people would rather wait and buy the $1,200 set either used or discounted to, say, $800 than buy the unknown name for $600 brand new and custom built. 

Why? Comfort and safety. A $600 dollar set of irons is a $600 dollar set of irons in our eyes. But a $1200 dollar set of irons marked down to $800? Bargain!!!!

Now you've made me think outside the box.  Honestly, I never consider PING expensive, but I am seriously brand loyal to them now, especially after how they bent over backwards to reshaft my irons for nothing a couple of months ago.  For that alone I'd be hard pressed to look at any other brand.  Golf clubs are definitely a luxury item though.

I'll add one other item/brand to this discussion to get you thinking about something else.  MGGolf.com sells dirt cheap laser range finders.  I paid $125 for mine, and you can get one now for $99 I believe.  But the one I bought maybe a couple of years ago lost it's digital display slowly over the past year, and now it's worthless.  My Precision Pro laser rangefinder replacement is on it's way for Christmas, but in this case going with the cheapest option proved the theory of "you get what you pay for."  Now if @PrecisionProGolf's laser is as good as their support and service here on MGS, then we not only have great value, and a rangefinder that is cheaper than most, but better customer support for much less then what you'd pay the Bushnells and Garmins of the world for a comparable product.  But with all that said, how many threads, posts and other comments about Precision Pro and their product did I read before it convinced my mind that that was the way to go?  Without the constant feedback here at MGS I wouldn't have even considered buying their product.  So in essence, "educated" marketing does work.

The other factor I don't believe we've discussed is the power and influence of a good friend.  My buddy @ga_pike told me the Callaway XR 4 wood was the greatest thing since sliced bread, so I found one on ebay and bought it.  If ga_pike hasn't said anything to me about that club, I'd probably be hitting a PING fairway metal.

I've got another buddy who will only play the Snell Get Some golf ball.  So he starts giving me these balls to test out.  So because of his loyalty to Snell I bought him some balls as a birthday present.  The purchase experience with Snell actually has me strongly considering buying Snell balls the next time I need golf balls.  Which at this rate, may be sometime in 2020 with all of the balls I have bought that are stored in my house.  Heck, I bought 4 dozen Srixon Q Star a year ago November, and they are still sitting in my house.  OK, maybe by 2021 I'll need more golf balls.  lol.

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Maybe it's just the training the Marine Corps put into me, but I'm not stupid enough to buy or let alone wear a Rolex.  I'd be too afraid of it getting stolen, liften, taken, or whatever.  Plus, my iPhone tells perfect time.  Rolex is about the most impractical item on planet earth.

I would rather have a Patek Philippe, IWC, Bell and Ross or several other brands over a Rolex any day. Wouldn’t get asked if it was real and only people that know about horology would know what it was.

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10 minutes ago, cnosil said:

I would rather have a Patek Philippe, IWC, Bell and Ross or several other brands over a Rolex any day. Wouldn’t get asked if it was real and only people that know about horology would know what it was.

Rolex buyers don't  buy a Rolex because they want to tell the time accurately. If that's what they want, a $20 Seiko is a better timepiece. Rolex buyers buy a Rolex because they want a Rolex. And maybe to feel a little like James Bond. 

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53 minutes ago, GolfSpy Barbajo said:

Rolex buyers don't  buy a Rolex because they want to tell the time accurately. If that's what they want, a $20 Seiko is a better timepiece. Rolex buyers buy a Rolex because they want a Rolex. And maybe to feel a little like James Bond. 

I know that,  my post was mostly in jest.   I personally am a fan of mechanicals so I know they aren't the most accurate timepieces.  I always laugh when people say they have a rolex and someone asks them if it is real.  If you really want to show off high end watches there are lots of brands that would be a better choice than rolex.  

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I really enjoy this thread.

Looking behind the curtain of how marketing impacts human beings is always fascinating to me. It’s human psychology at play.

When it comes to purchasing items, we are always influenced by our experiences.

As this relates to my golf game, I understand my limitations and do not go chasing things that I cannot afford. This discipline is difficult as my ego is always telling me something different than reality. The more I am self-aware, the less opportunity there is for me to chase what the marketers tell me to do.


Sent from my iPhone using MyGolfSpy

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On 12/21/2018 at 1:00 PM, GolfSpy Barbajo said:

I've heard of a similar story here - guy had a roadside farm stand and was selling tomatoes. He had two bins - one bin was marked 50 cents per tomato, the other marked $1 per tomato. These were the same tomatoes, they weren't separated by size, quality or anything. The $1 tomatoes sold out in no time. When the bin was empty, he took tomatoes out of the 50 cent bin and put them in the dollar bin, and sold out again. 

Price makes a statement...even when it comes to tomatoes.

 

... Too funny Barbajo. I think it is a pretty good rule of thumb, in a very general way, that you get what you pay for. You can buy a set of irons from a component company that not only may break with use, but quality control can be all over the place. So spending the money for a reputable set of irons from a company with a track record assures you of at least getting a quality product. That could be Maltby or that could be Bridgestone but it ain't Precision Made Series VI. Of course there are those literally banking on charging more than what would be considered a standard price range and just raising the price because of status or bling alone and while they may not be a waste of money for those that love owning PXG irons, there is no guarantee they are as good, let alone better than P790's or i500's that can cost 1/2 as much. There is almost always a price that is too high as well as too low with most products. 

... First thing I would do with the roadside stand (which I would not buy unless they are organic and pesticide free but I digress) is ask the farmer why one basket of tomatoes is twice as much as the other. Knowledge is always a great consumer tool. 

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I don’t have much to add other than this is an interesting topic - I’ve been following along.


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