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04-14-2005, 04:21 AM #1
Badminton Popularity - The Role of Yonex
(this is also posted in the front page)
We badminton fans just have to admit it, badminton isn’t a widely popular sport. In many parts of the world, most people do not know anything about badminton, or even worse in the US, where many still believe that badminton is just a backyard sport down there with crocket, played by old ladies in a Saturday afternoon.
But it doesn’t stop many fans from dreaming that badminton one day will become like tennis, where the runner-up of a major tournament earns more than the total prize money of the most high ranked badminton tournament; one day when badminton courts are dense sprinkled everywhere in town like basketball hoops; one day when people in school thinks badminton is the coolest sports and sports departments don’t schedule badminton in the leftover timeslots.
What does one need to do to make the rest of the world understand that badminton is just as tough a sport as any other?
The problem with badminton is that it is currently stuck in a popularity vicious cycle. Let me explain. Popularity isn’t driven by the inherent property of the sport alone, if so, then slow and sleep inducing sports like baseball would’ve fallen off the planet a long time ago (apologies to all baseball fans, but it is true).
Popularity is mainly driven by marketing and media. Big corporations are the ones who have the ability to push a sport into mainstream. In the US, billions of dollars every year are spent on advertising and sponsoring major professional sports tournament. With this amount of money, it is possible to push these sports into every corner of the country, and every corner of the world.
However, companies don’t spend money when they don’t get results. They are prepared to pour so much into these professional sports because the sports themselves are vastly popular. Every year in March a sizeable portion of the US population are stuck in front of the TV watching the SuperBowl, and sometimes with brand new big sized TV bought for that purpose. This is how popularity attracts money.
So as you can see, for a sport to be popular, you need money, for a sport to be able to command big sponsorship money, you need to be popular. This is the vicious cycle that badminton is stuck in. Badminton is neither popular, nor rich.
So how can badminton break out of this cycle? Well, we can make badminton popular, or pour a lot of money into badminton. Or both.
Popularity is difficult to change. Frankly, Badminton isn’t as unpopular as one may think, in some country, badminton is very popular, the recent rise in the Philippines is one example. And there are indications that overall badminton popularity is on the up trend. Up trend it may be, it is starting at a very low level. Having said that, badminton is not popular is much of the western world, especially in North America. If badminton suddenly break out in the US and Canada, it will very quickly spread to many parts of the world.
And the next issue, is money. Many major corporations like Nike and Coca Cola spends a lot of money sponsoring the various professional sports in the US. None of them will give badminton a look because badminton isn’t popular. There are many small companies who would sponsor small events like local tournaments, but those do not have the market reach beyond the already existing badminton community.
We need a big corporation that has an intimate interest in badminton, and one who will be willing to pour in money. Yes, you get it, we need Yonex.
Yonex has long enjoyed being the leader in badminton equipment. Go to any local badminton gym and you will find Yonex equipment used more than any other brands. But lately, Yonex is starting to feel a lot of pressure from smaller badminton brands. Many emerging manufacturers, especially ones based in Taiwan and China are starting to gain popularity. They offer badminton equipment of comparable quality at a lower price. Evidence we have gathered shows that Yonex’s yearly badminton equipment output has stayed constant while these small manufacture floods the market. In other words, Yonex’s market share is falling. Existing market isn’t going to grow by much, Yonex needs to find new market to break into.
It is true that Yonex does put money into the sport. Every year Yonex sponsors most of the top national teams, in fact, most of the best badminton players in the world are Yonex sponsored. Yonex also sponsors numerous major Grand Prix tournaments like the Japan, All England, US, Singapore. However, the money spent here are still within the bounds of the badminton world. These sponsorship does not serve the purpose of breaking into large markets like the US. 99.99% of the US population do not know the Badminton US Open existed.
To be able to break into this market, Yonex needs to pour money into a major marketing campaign. If no one hears about it, if no one learns of it, no one will pay badminton any attention. Give badminton mass media exposure to let the rest of the world know about badminton. We need a marketing company like the one they used for the XFL, the XFL was a great marketing success, XFL itself was a flop because it has no substance. Badminton has substance. If we can market badminton to attract so much media attention and curiosity, badminton will surely spring into an overnight success.
It will cost a lot of money, but it is a risk that Yonex must take, if it pays off, they will be the front runner and the financial benefit will be huge given the size of the US market. Everybody will be holding a Yonex racket. Yonex’s badminton sale will no longer stay constant but instead grow continuously.
But it has to be done right. We must educate sports fans that badminton isn’t a backyard sport, we must package the sport appropriately to attract viewers. When word starts to spread, we will soon see badminton rise out of its backyard status into the mainstream.
We just need Yonex to kick start this, and our dream will come true.
04-14-2005, 05:19 AM #2
"What does one need to do to make the rest of the world understand that badminton is just as tough a sport as any other?"
not true, badminton is tougher than sports like tennis(apologies to tennis fans for being straightforward)
i agree with kwun that we need yonex to a certain extent. The effort put in by Yonex in badminton is highly commendable. However, i feel that Yonex is incapable of doing this alone. This uphill task is just too demanding and i fear it is out of Yonex's reach. We need more companies, as said by Kwun, bringing up the example advertising companies, the route to realise our dreams will be an exceptionally long one, if we only Yonex does its part.
04-14-2005, 05:45 AM #3
A very well-written article. While I can't say I totally agree or totally disagree with what you wrote, here are my observations:
Sports like Tennis, Football (Soccer) and Basketball are by-and-large MAJOR sports in the western world. Badminton is more popular in Asia. Would this make a difference? Is it because Westerners would pour money into a sport that they play and know about, whereas the Asians don't pour the money into the sport they play or know about?
Could it be due to financial standard? Europe and America are RICHER than Asia that they have the money to pour into the sports they play?
Could it be that Asians are a little late in investing into Sports, and turn the whole game a business (like football in the UK, tennis and basketball in the US, they are business).
The size of the sport equipment manufacturer is important. Yes Yonex has poured huge money into the sport and is the dominant name in Badminton. But Yonex is not yet big, or I should say diversed, enough to mark an influence of badminton to the World, until it is like brands such as Adidas or Nike. Yonex, as a manufacturer of sport equipment, has been too focused with certain sports. That makes Yonex earn more a professional reputation to Badminton, rather than a big boy in sports.
When Nike or Adidas gets into Badminton (badminton rackets, shuttles, apparels, footwears, accessories, etc...) and sponsor a few World-class players, badminton will fly higher than tennis I dare say.
Then you will see Coca-Cola, Omega, Rolex, Ferrari......... queueing up for adverts deals with Lin Dan, Camilla Martin, etc...etc...etc....
Last edited by winstonchan; 04-14-2005 at 05:57 AM.
04-14-2005, 06:05 AM #4
This year's World Championships will be held in US. And I also heard from the forum that Nike is going to design a badminton shoe. Are these turning points where the vicious circle is beginning to roll into a snowball?
04-14-2005, 06:13 AM #5
I agree with most of what you re saying
I love yonex, I think they still producing the best badminton rackets right now.
04-14-2005, 06:22 AM #6
Yonex has done its share of pushing the sport in other parts of the world. I agree with the other guys that it's time for Nike and other North-American based companies to step up to the plate. Once they get their marketing muscles behind badminton, the ball will start to roll. We really need to pull Nike in on this one. Make them believe in the coolness of the sport. The reason why Nike's dipping its toes in the water is the changing demographics of the States. It's possible that they may go into it fully later, but it'll be better if we can convince them that there's a sizable market to tap in.
04-14-2005, 07:13 AM #7
woah... reading all this makes me excited =D~~~~
04-14-2005, 08:09 AM #8
I Would say we do need Yonex, but more to the point we need a rival to Yonex.
The Virtually monopoly Yonex have on badminton is, IMO not good for the development of the sport. It needs a rival to yonex to start challenging for sponsorship of a big event. This will encourage Yonex to be more focussed, and increase the amounts of money they put in to tournaments. This in turn will encourage the two (or three) competitors to try get more media coverage of their event. This will raise the profile of events, and overall of badminton.
At the moment, Yonex are not under pressure to increase the media coverage, as they dont need to as market share is rising. If a competitor, say apacs, sotx, winex, fleet, etc... sponsor an event and get some media coverage, yonex will be forced to improve coverage of their events.
IMO we need yonex, yes, but not as the monopoly on the game it is now.
04-14-2005, 08:10 AM #9
Yonex can only do so much... they can't do virtually everything. We need other Large corporate sponsors as well..
04-14-2005, 08:30 AM #10
I just have to stick my neck out:
Before we label Yonex as god's gift to badminton, we should ask ourselves: where would badminton be popularity-wise if the badminton market had been commercially "sound", ie with more than one big company? From a consumer perspective, today's badminton market is very unhealthy. It's not Yonex' "fault", but this allows them to do R&D at pretty much their own pace, they can set prices at their own will, they can sponsor players and tournaments as much as they like. With two or three almost equally big companies competing in the badminton market, we would probably have had:
a) lower consumer prices
b) more advanced products
c) more money in the sport, that is more tournaments
d) better looking clothes (just kidding, well almost)
Quite frankly, I don't think Yonex is what badminton needs at all. In fact, I think today's situation is potentially dangerous.
Last edited by Mag; 04-14-2005 at 08:33 AM.
04-14-2005, 08:35 AM #11
Ouch, James, you beat me to it.
(OK, I chose to be more confrontative, but hey that's me. )
04-14-2005, 09:51 AM #12
In my humble opinion there is no good whatsoever in monopoly. Competition will force yonex to thrive for the better, that is in all aspects.
I can also see the great influx of racquets from taiwan in Malaysia. The most popular now is VipAce.
However I'm not concerned about it because I can still get super quality yonex racquet at the same price as the VipAce, the MP25 for instance.
04-14-2005, 02:08 PM #13
JVC does sponsor some tournaments here in asia...maybe some of us here knows a few corporate honchos to push our agenda..... perhaps leo di carpio can make a publicity stunt of going rehab due to badminton addiction.....
04-14-2005, 02:39 PM #14
I agree with Jamesd20 and Mag, we need companies to compete with Yonex, even to beat them. Yonex has been dominating the badminton market forever, and this is not good at all.
04-14-2005, 02:43 PM #15
as mentioned before...our local dummy adidas country head doesnt realize yet where the sudden surge for adidas shoes is coming from.....the past 2 years.....
04-14-2005, 02:45 PM #16
Do I hear competition policies from the government??Originally Posted by SteveStanley
04-14-2005, 04:21 PM #17
Jamesd, you took words right out of my mouth.
We need equipment competitors. The little company will want its share of the market, so it will market and advertises its brand, sponsor tournaments, making the sport more popular.
Have you guys seen the coverage of the 2004 Junior Championship in Richmond, BC, Canada made by TSN?
Even the show really sucked, and the guy made comments like "Wow! Badminton is so speedy ... or needs acceleration... or it's so quick!"....
Yes, that was lame, but it's a start. We need more TV coverage. We need more events worldwide. We need majors done in North America. That Junior event was the first time a badminton event was made in north american soil (I think). So it's already a good start.
We need a canadian or american champion to make the sport popular.
Look at what Tiger Woods brought to golf and the masses. Golf became more popular because of him. Canadians played more golf because of Mike Weir.
And Yonex makes good golf clubs too (hahaha... me a Golf addict too )
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