I am well into my second decade of playing golf at both recreation and competitive levels. Like most golfers, you will find near a half dozen different manufacturers in my bag at any given time. One staple though has been the Titleist ProV1 golf ball.
At the core of the Titleist marketing strategy is “the Pyramid of Influence.” The concept is that the serious recreational golfer – one who is likely to spend significant leisure money on golf merchandise – is paying close attention to professional golfers and likely to buy whatever it is their favorite pro is using. Titleist has traditionally been more aggressive than other manufacturers and as a result often dwarfs its nearest competitor every week in the number of pros using their ball in a particular tournament. This holds true despite the fact that the differences in technology implemented between companies is nearly unnoticeable. Titleist advertises through main stream media (commercials during weekend golf broadcasts and within highlights and tournament leaderboards on the internet), showing how many players that week are using their ball and how many players are using the nearest competitor. In short order they immediately build credibility with the average neighborhood hack. This marketing strategy is focused to the top of the sales funnel.
In an effort to better reach the bottom of the funnel and build an experience resulting in conversions, Titleist did make a significant investment toward the end of the last decade to create a community called Team Titleist. The website combines multiple social media channels into one controllable space. This site offers blogs on new products, industry news, etc. It also invites Team Titleist members to participate in their own forums and to aid the R&D process. One of the blogs hosted on the site is for hole in one stories from their members. Titleist has found the Team Titleist site to be a good tool for conversion. By hosting such content, they are able to reach a customer who is ready to make a large purchase (think a driver, clubs, etc.) and in the process of narrowing down their selections. Additionally, they are able to disseminate news directly to their most passionate customers who then in turn act as informal brand ambassadors.
Titleist has a clear identity and a proven track record for building brand awareness. They also have shown the ability to find new ways to meet customers where they are and adapt to new channels as they are presented. This strength is what has allowed and is likely to allow them to continue to achieve high margins on products which when placed against their competitors might not pass a Coke versus Pepsi blindfold test.