The world of golf balls turns out to contain a great deal of combat

The world of golf balls turns out to contain a great deal of combat
Image Credit: likeaduck

When you think about the game of golf, what do you think about? If you are like me, you probably picture Tiger Woods hitting a golf ball, those very pretty greens that everyone plays on, or maybe even a nice set of golf clubs. However, it turns out that the world of golf contains some major product battles that have nothing to do with any of these things. It turns out that to product managers, golf is really all about golf balls.

A Story About Dimples

So what do you really know about golf balls? If you’ve ever had a chance to take a look at a golf ball, then you probably noticed that they have dents in them that are called “dimples”. These dimples are put into the ball in order to help it travel farther and more accurately. There are a number of different companies that manufacturer golf balls using the same basic product development definition. The market leader is a company called Titleist. They are the biggest manufacturer and their premier product is the ProVI.

The world used to be simple. Titleist sold their golf balls and they told the word that they were offering the “number one ball in golf”. There were other golf ball manufacturers, but nobody was as big as Titleist. However, then the retail giant Costco started to offer their own branded version of golf balls under its Kirkland Signature brand. This would have been just fine if it were not for the fact that the Costco golf ball got a favorable review in a popular golf magazine against the Titleist ProVI. For Costco product managers, this would be something to put on your product manager resume.

The reason that this is such a big deal has a lot to do with price. The Costco balls sell for $29.99 for 24 balls. This comes out to be $1.25 per ball. In the world of golf balls, this is a pretty cheap price. Meanwhile, the Titleist ProVI sells for $4.00 per ball. As you can see, if golfers believe that the Costco ball is as good or even better than the more expensive Titleist ball, then they are going to go out and buy the Costco balls. This is exactly what they did – Costco very quickly sold out of their golf balls.

How Product Managers Protect Their Golf Ball Products

So what do you think the product managers at Titleist did? Their market share was under assault by a large retailer who could sell their product for less than half of what Titleist was selling their product for. It turns out that the world of golf balls is ruled by patents. The joke in the industry is that every time another divot is added to a golf ball, a new patent is filed for. Titleist has a large collection of patents. What their product managers did was to go to court and claim that the Costco ball violated 11 of their patents.

The Titleist product managers did not stop there, they also filed a claim against the Costco product managers that said that they had engaged in false advertising. This was based on a statement that Costco had made in which they say that their Kirkland signature golf balls “…meet or exceed the quality standards of leading national brands.”

The Costco product managers have fired back by filing their own lawsuit. They are asking the courts to defend their business practices. They did this because of a “threatening letter” that they had received from the Titleist product managers. Costco felt that they had to do this because Titleist is named in over 2,577 patents that relate to golf balls.

What All Of This Means For You

The world of golf is filled with competitors who like to face off against each other on the fairways. However, it turns out that behind the scenes there is another battle going on. The world of golf balls is ruled by one company, Titleist, and they don’t like it when someone tries to invade their turf.

The very large retailer Costco has introduced their own brand of golf balls. These golf balls sell for less than half the cost of the top end Titleist golf ball. A major golfing magazine compared the two balls and the Costco ball came out on top. When this happened, there are a stampede by golfers to go to Costco to buy these balls. Titleist was not happy about this and so they have filed a lawsuit saying that Costco has violated some of their over 2,500 golf ball patents. Costco has reacted by filing their own court order to get the court system to approve their business practices.

Clearly within the world of golf balls there is a battle going on between two warring sets of product managers. Costco has created a product that threatens the market position of the Titleist balls and so the company’s product managers have taken a look at their product manager job description and decided to try to use the court system to make the Costco balls go away. Costco is going to try to use the court system to get approval for the way that they sell their balls. We’ll have to see how this all works out in order to see if anyone can get a hole in one.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that Costco was right to file a court order to get their business process approved?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As a product manager, you want to be able to get your product out in front of as many potential customers as possible. However, this is something that sometimes your company can’t accomplish all by themselves. When you realize this, you often start to look for a partner – somebody who can help change your product development definition and introduce you to more potential customers. This is a great idea, but these joint marketing relationships don’t always work out…

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In the fashion industry, speed to market is what matters

In the fashion industry, speed to market is what matters
Image Credit:
GoToVan

If you had to, how quickly could you get a new product to market? One month, two months, 6 months, a year? For most product managers, we get our next product to market when we choose to get it there – our customers really don’t have too much say in the matter. However, over the in the fashion industry things are a bit different. Fashion industry product managers live and die by how quickly they can get their next product to market.

The Challenge Of Creating Fashion Products

As you might well imagine, the world of fashion changes very rapidly. Customers see something that they like and then they all decide that that product is the “must have” product for this season. This has forever caused problems for fashion product managers who struggle to change their product development definition that fast. They generally have to order the products that will be in their stores months in advance. This requires them to have a special form of being able to see the future. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they don’t and how good you are at this can show up on your product manager resume.

One of the biggest challenges that most fashion stores are facing is that it simply takes a long time to get the products that they order into their stores. The firm will place an order for a garment that they think will be a big seller this fashion season and then they will have to wait. For the manufacturer to design the garment, create it, and then ship it to the store can take upwards of ten months.

Another challenge that many fashion firms are facing is that the process of shipping their products to their stores comes with a lot of risks. Goods are often sent from the manufacturer to a centralized warehouse from whence they are then distributed to individual stores. This boosts the chances that unsold goods may get stuck somewhere in the pipeline. If this were to happen, then stores would not have the goods that customers want to buy and by the time the goods made it to the store, fashion would have changed once again and there would be no market for the goods.

How Inditex Makes Products So Quickly

You would think that the world of fashion would always be playing catch up with their customer’s demands. However, for the Spanish firm Inditex this is not the case. Their product managers have solved the problem of creating fast fashion. This all starts with their store managers. These managers talk with their customers in order to find out what kind of fashions they are looking for. This information is then funneled back to headquarters.

At the firm’s headquarters, the input from the store managers is then given to a designer who spends five days creating the pattern for a new outfit. A second pattern maker, a seamstress, and cutters then work for 13 days to create 8,000 copies of the design. Over the next six days, the designs are processed by the firm and sent to the airport for shipping. Finally, the design shows up at the store ready to be sold. The total amount of time involved was 25 days. Compare this to the 10 months that it takes other retailers to get new fashions into their stores.

Another advantage that Inditex has is in how its fashions are made. The company makes 60% of its products either in Spain or in nearby countries. This use of closer suppliers (than Asia) allows them to speed their delivery time. The organization that they have set up allows them to quickly react to trends in fashion that show up. The reason that Inditex has been so successful is that the firm can offer short lead times. Often their stores will have designs that they can offer to their customers that the competition just doesn’t have.

What All Of This Means For You

For most product managers, the next version of our product will show up when we are good and ready to release it to the world. However, in the world of fashion this is not the case – customers know what they want and if you don’t have it, then they will not be shopping at your stores. The product managers at Spain’s Inditex understand their product manager job description and have solved the problem of quickly meeting their customer’s needs.

Inditex starts their process of delivering fast fashion by having their store managers collect information on what their customers are looking for. This information is then sent back to headquarters where it is turned into a new design. That design is then used to create copies of the fashion. This can be done quickly because most of Inditex’s suppliers are located in Spain or nearby countries. The fashions then get processed and placed on a plane to be shipped to stores. A new fashion design can be in a store in as little as 25 days.

The world of fashion is both demanding and fickle. Product managers who try to serve this market have to make sure that their stores have the right fashions in the stores at the right time. The product managers at Inditex have the ability to detect changes in the market and react quickly to them in order to make sure that they have the right designs before anyone else does. Fashion may be fickle, but the Inditex product managers seem to wear it well.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: If the Inditex product managers guess wrong on a fashion trend, what do you think that they should do?

Click here to get automatic updates when
The Accidental Product Manager Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Product Manager Newsletter are now available. It’s your product – it’s your career. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When you think about the game of golf, what do you think about? If you are like me, you probably picture Tiger Woods hitting a golf ball, those very pretty greens that everyone plays on, or maybe even a nice set of golf clubs. However, it turns out that the world of golf contains some major product battles that have nothing to do with any of these things. It turns out that to product managers, golf is really all about golf balls.

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