Personalization of products and services is one of the biggest marketing challenges for marketers as it became a must-have.
For this reason, in this reason, you can hear firsthand from Drew Parsons (Territory Sales Manager Scotland & Cumbria, UK Corporate Sales Manager – Wilson Golf) what Wilson Golf is doing for a more sophisticated product & service personalization.
Before you start reading the interview, it’s good to clarify the difference between personalization & customization:
- Personalization is achieved when the platform tailors an experience based on customers’ past behavioral data. Here the customer data is used to predict future preferences and make recommendations.
- Customization, on the other hand, is performed by the customer or user himself to suit his needs.
Understanding where the customer is and how they want things at that moment shows the customer you remain relevant to their lifestyle, and in turn, keeps them loyal.
What are the latest product & service personalization innovations in the golf equipment industry?
We have had significant investment at Wilson Golf over the past 2 years, COVID had a considerable impact on corporate golf days and logo business.
Pre-COVID we were beginning to see significant increases in our EMEA corporate business, so we made sure we were geared for the expected growth in corporate golf – taking into consideration all the new golfers who had never experienced a corporate golf day or a society golf trip – these were all untapped opportunities.
We invested in new ball print machinery, we now have 4 x 4 color, 1 x 5 color, and 1 x 1 color pad print machines, additional investment was made in a digital printer which allows us to print more complex logos to photographic quality.
Within our embroidery area, we now have 1, 4, and 6 head machines for embroidery and have added screen printing and dye sublimation capabilities to our production allowing us to offer both an embroidery or vinyl print on our clothing, golf bags, and accessories as well as dye sublimation on umbrellas.
The Wilson brand is ever-evolving, in golf balls, the DUO Soft which is the Worlds Softest Golf ball continues to be our number one selling logo golf ball.
With the addition last year of the Tour Proven Staff Model and this year the revolutionary TRIAD we now have a very strong ball family to compete with other brands in the marketplace.
The introduction of the ECO Golf Bag which is made from recycled plastic bottles into our personalization range has added both a great-looking bag but also one which carries an environmentally friendly message.
Do you see a correlation between product & service personalization and customer lifetime value?
The biggest challenge is winning the first order, once we are able to do that then we hope we can take that customer on a journey with us.
If they have a good experience when placing that first order then they know that Wilson is a good partner who can deliver quality products, with quality personalization within a quick turnaround.
We have many companies who come back year after year to order their logo products so we can see longevity in the partnership.
The fact that all our product is personalized under one roof in our European Distribution Centre in Irvine, Scotland also helps, from graphic design to production, to order management all under one roof allows us to manage the order through every step to ensure quality control is kept at a high standard.
We believe that if a business chooses to have their corporate logo on Wilson products, then it is our job to ensure that the business is proud to see their logo displayed when giving out products to clients at golf days, etc.
How do you facilitate a one-on-one experience with your customers?
Before COVID there were a few trade shows that we attended to showcase our product to the customers, these proved very popular and a good way to get in front of many. Since COVID very few of these events have taken place so this year we have created an ‘Inside Irvine’ feature on our social media channels.
This includes behind-the-scenes videos of our logo, embroidery, and custom fit departments.
Giving an ‘inside the ropes’ insight to the end user allows them to see how the product is personalized, built, and delivered to them. We also extend an invitation to our customers to visit our Irvine facility so they can see for themselves how our product is customized.
Custom fitting on golf clubs is also key from a personalization point of view, each player is different, and each player requires a different specification for their clubs. We have over 800 fitting accounts throughout Europe and have many custom-fit Tech Reps on the road supporting our customers.
Within the Irvine Facility we have a custom-fit studio where the consumer can come along to be fitted using the latest technology, and at the same time see how the clubs are built.
Do you use AI for personalization?
It is not something we do for personalization. Our D9 range of woods and irons were designed with the help of AI but we have not yet looked at that from a personalization perspective.
How long can you personalize customer journeys?
For as long as the customer wishes, the product is always evolving, and if the customer wants to keep up to date with the latest trends and products.
We will be able to ensure their logo can be applied to the product, there will also be more innovation, and additional products that can be personalized, we can already see stamping on wedges and the ability to choose different colors of your golf equipment.
However, to play golf you will always need golf balls and a bag to carry your clubs so there will always be products to personalize.
How do you win & maintain customer loyalty?
Maintaining loyalty is providing excellent service at the correct prices. We do not deal directly with the end-user but through the corporate trade, building up the trust and relationship with that customer base is key.
They are the ones promoting the Wilson brand on our behalf, as they will be dealing with many different suppliers, and they need to partner with companies who make their jobs easy.
Focusing on being best in class for service and lead-time helps us stay part of the conversation, if our customers can confidently sell the Wilson product in the knowledge, they will not let their customers down then it makes their jobs much easier.
We do not have a post-purchase program as such but for some customers, we will create bespoke packages for them to show them what other items they can purchase with their logo.
Again they may be purchasing from somewhere else or have never thought of those items as part of their range, by providing them with this additional information helps them plan for future events.
How do you create actionable & insightful customer personas?
We receive market share data which allows us to see where the trends are, there has been a huge growth in golf over the last 2 years, in particular a higher rise in women golfers and complete newcomers to the game.
As a brand we have an equipment range that can take the consumer on a journey from beginner all the way through to Tour professional and all the stages in between – we have a particular product aimed at each level.
In the corporate market, there is a wide range of golfing abilities on a golf day, again for this reason a particular product may not be suitable for all, we try to engage with customers to offer them the best value for money product that would be suitable for the majority at their event.
We will also work closely with customers when arranging corporate golf days to help create packages that work for them on their day.
In the past there was a focus on more money sent on a prize table with smaller ‘favors’ given to each competing player, however more recently you are finding that companies like to give a better experience to all so will spend a bit more money on the individual giveaways and then tier their prize table accordingly.