Generally players around the world are used to buy brand new golf balls for their private rounds, no matter how good their game is. A fairly costly procedure for the weekend golfers as most of them won’t finish their round with exactly that ball they started with, directly correlated to the number of hazards on the course obviously.
Then someone discovered that scuba divers could be the solution to all that as they realised that hundreds if not thousands of balls lie at the bottom of the water hazards, ponds and lakes out there. It became business model to quite a number of companies lifting these balls, clean them, sort them and sell them again to the more cost sensitive customer. As you can imagine some of these balls were almost new, others have been lying down there for years. So effectively playing lake balls is like wearing second hand clothes, without trying them on.
Think about this when your group partner next time says something like he would never ever play anything else than Titleist balls – he might actually refer to 5-year old Titleist lake balls he just bought for a third of the original price.
For sure there are cheap ball companies as well, but for good reason very few people adopted playing with these. Golfers who strive for getting better in this game, who spend thousands for the right sticks, who pay thousands a year for a club membership… who would play with sub-optimal balls? So on the lower end of the price range the market was bleeding out due to lacking quality and missing customers’ trust.
And then there are companies like Vice Golf, providing the golf ball market with affordable high-quality balls. Golficiency’s Alexander Rose spoke to Ingo Düllmann and Rainer Stöckl at Vice Golf and discussed their business model, strategy and targeted client base of this aspiring Germany-based golf ball company.
Golficiency: First of all thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, that’s much appreciated. Vice has managed to tap the toe into the golf ball market by providing high-quality balls for reasonable prices. How exactly do you manage that?
Vice Golf: Our brand succeeds by avoiding the middleman and selling exclusively via our own website (www.vicegolf.com). In addition, our customers receive further price advantages through larger packaging units as well as cutting out unnecessary PGA world class player sponsoring. For spontaneous buyers, there are also smaller trial units available.
There is quite some competition in the golf ball market. Brands like Titleist have a huge stake on pro tours, others dominate the club players market. What does Vice envisage in terms of market share in let’s say one and five years and how do you want to achieve that goal?
In contrast to traditional golf brands such as Titleist we are positioning our brand by collaborating with hip, high-quality, and design-oriented brands. In addition, we also focus on limited editions with individualized logo. Our aim is to make golf young and cool again. Regarding our stake in the market we will try our best and grow as fast as possible.
What is your typical target customer?
Golfers from all ages with a sense for design, focus on high quality, performance and a need for a great deal!
The team at my home club is playing Vice balls across the board. Do you envisage to treat this customer class differently? Or in other words, do you prefer competitive golfers as clients or more the weekend golfers as the ones who effectively lose more balls than others?
We love both, but in the end we sell high quality performance products which should be used also on a competitive basis.
Vice extended their product range over the last months in terms of colours, features and prices and as well offers personalization. What new products or services can the consumer expect in the near future?
Unfortunately I cannot tell you too much on this matter, but we will expand into other product categories and additionally will come out with a new ball model for 2015.
Your target client base is obviously international. What has been done exactly to attract golfers abroad to use Vice balls instead of their usual suspects? And how has the general international perception been so far?
Obviously we offer a great product for a great price. Besides that we focus on our customers’ needs. Well-designed products of the best quality available for a bargain – in comparison to what you would normally pay. Customization is also a big deal and we are proud to make this process as easy as 1,2,3. The perception in other countries was amazing! We are very happy to see that our brand also is appreciated in almost every country in Europe and also in Australia!
Vice is a Germany-based company. How is that an advantage or disadvantage, or how does this play a role in your distribution and marketing channels?
We engineer and design all our products in Munich, Germany. We pay attention to every detail and do not launch products before they are really finished! This probably is slowing us down a bit but we are proud to say that all of our products are tested until perfection is reached. Probably it’s the world class beer at the Oktoberfest (beerfest) and the beautiful golf courses which inspire us most and lead to our claim: EMBRACE YOUR VICE!
Thanks for the interview.
For more information please see http://www.vicegolf.com