Mizuno isn’t the biggest brand in golf. They don’t spend nearly as much as some others on Tour endorsements. They don’t have an astronomical marketing budget. They don’t even have a booth on the PGA Show Floor (Mizuno goes the conference room route).

What they do have is an innovative iron fitting system, a loyal following, and a reputation for producing some of the best feeling irons in golf. How does all of this translate to our brand survey?

Let’s get to it.

Here’s What You Told Us

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We’ve seen similar results before. In many respects these Mizuno results are fairly close to the responses we saw for our Titleist Brand Survey. The Performance numbers are basically equal, and if you’re Mizuno you certainly must be pretty damn psyched to see that 66.13% of respondents associate the Mizuno brand with Quality. That number basically doubles the Titleist number (which no other brand had previously come close to matching) for the same buzzword.

What I find interesting is that like Titleist, the Innovation value for Mizuno is low. Certainly Mizuno has done some innovative things with their irons of late, but I’d wager that most think about metalwoods when they hear innovation.

It’s not like Mizuno is the market leader in any category, but my inference here is that the Mizuno guy is one who cares more about concrete ideas like quality and performance than the nebulous concept of innovation.

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No descriptor that I would consider negative registered above 5%, and quite frankly there are worse things than Bland (3.44%). Positive stuff substantially outweighed the negative; suggesting that most of you who responded hold Mizuno in extremely high regard.

As is often the case, some interesting bits of info were gleaned from the Other field. Forged and Feel led those responses, with Classic, Reputation, and Niche also popping up multiple times. Curiously, one person wrote in Invisibility. I’m not sure if that’s meant to suggest that Mizuno is invisible as a brand, or if Mizuno clubs can make you invisible. Something to think about…or not.

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We understand that there’s an inherent skew to surveying brands individually like this. If you’re a Mizuno fan you’re more likely to participate in a Mizuno survey (and say good things) than someone who isn’t a Mizuno guy. Makes sense right?

Obviously we know that nearly 60% is not an accurate representation of the marketplace as a whole (if it was, Mizuno would be nearly thrice over the #1 iron brand at retail), The most recent Datatech report has Mizuno at about 6% of the iron market, but we can appreciate the fact that you Mizuno guys are loyal.

Also not surprising is that 35.54% of you have no Mizuno clubs in the bag. Mizuno is generally regarded as an iron company, so it’s to be expected that the number of metalwoods reported to be in the bag significantly trail irons and wedges.

It’s not that Mizuno metalwoods are bad. We’ve tested some solid stuff from them over the years, but there’s little doubt the company is more focused on irons, and that shows up in our reader’s bags.

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Why are perceptions of Mizuno Golf either stagnant or improving? Certainly I think they’ve run some great promotions. Play Famously is perhaps the best marketing campaign any golf company has run…ever (at least as far as being really cool goes). I also believe they’ve done an outstanding job diversifying their offerings to reach a wider range of golfers.

We’ll talk about that a bit more after this next chart.
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The historical knock on Mizuno irons was that they were almost exclusively for the better golfer. Mizuno irons were something you might play when you got a little better. While Mizuno had some stellar offerings in the MX line, I think even those inside Mizuno would agree that the company struggled to reach the mid to high handicap golfer.

A few years ago Mizuno folded the MX line into the JPX series. Since that time Mizuno has continued to produce more traditional quality player offerings under the MP series. The biggest change is that for whatever reason JPX is resonating with the average golfer more than MX ever did. Maybe it’s the name. Maybe it’s the bolder colors. Maybe its the technology story. For whatever reason JPX works.

That said, Mizuno clearly has some work to do as the number of people who think Mizuno’s products target a wide range of players (36.62%) is only slightly higher than the percentage of you who believe that Mizuno’s products target a narrow range of players (33.40%).

Those two big long bars. Those are for Products are manufactured to tight tolerances (81.12%) and Product Engineering is Superior (74.69%)

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This question always fascinates me, even if the results themselves ever produce much insight. I suppose there’s an argument to be made that Mizuno is a leader in iron technology. You could probably argue that it’s a follow on the metalwood side. More than anything, I believe the company has a vision of what a Mizuno club should be, and it’s largely unwilling to deviate much from that. In that respect Mizuno is unconcerned with what others are doing.

See what I mean…fascinating to discuss, but little actual insight.

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Irons great. Wedges Good. Metalwoods a bit behind the curve.

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All good news here for Mizuno, although it’s perhaps a bit surprising that Value rated as well as it did. Mizuno irons are generally a bit above average cost wise, so I suppose it’s perhaps reassuring to see that Mizuno loyalists are able differentiate between cost and value.

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It’s hard to really know what’s going on at Mizuno Golf. As a subdivision of a Japanese company the numbers can be hard to dig up. We’ve heard that, like most everyone else in the golf industry, Mizuno had a rough start to 2014, but the fall product is as compelling as anything we’ve seen from the company. Boron people, Boron.

Couple that with a following that while not massive is loyal and you have a recipe for sustainability. Toss in the oh by that way that retailers love work with Mizuno and there’s definitely reason for optimism.

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So I’m guessing we’re mostly drawing an association with the irons here, but whatever…you think highly of Mizuno. Perhaps the most interesting number in all of this; not a single person who took our survey thinks that Mizuno products are the worst in golf. Nobody. 0%. That’s never happened before.

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60/40 is roughly the average split we’ve seen for nearly every brand. Move along…nothing to see here.

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Again…a fairly typical response pattern, but the other option did provide some interesting results. Here are some of the other reasons why some of you don’t follow Mizuno:

  • I’m on Team Titleist (I wasn’t aware that was exclusionary, but ok).
  • Time Waster (so true)
  • They don’t use Google+ (talk about wasting your time)
  • Limited left-handed offerings (fair point, but that’s improving)
  • The Mizuno rep was rude to me so I switched to Adams (angry fist shaken)
  • Do I really care what Charles Howell III or Brian Gay thinks of the new irons? Perhaps I should, but I don’t. (it’s ok. I don’t care either)
  • I don’t reveal info to social media (I either…or does me?)

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Is Mizuno more engaged than the average shaft company? Sure. Are they slightly less engaged than the average equipment manufacturer…that’s a good question. I’m glad I asked it. Certainly they’re not Callaway. They’re not TaylorMade, Nike, or Titleist either. They’re probably not even Cleveland. Where does that leave them? I’d say slightly less engaged is about right.

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We might as well stop asking this question. The result is always the same.

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This one too, although there’s a part of me that believes that for those of us who use social media regularly, the influence is probably significantly greater than we’re willing to acknowledge. I mean seriously, how can you look at that Play Famously stuff and not think more highly of Mizuno?

The Final Word

So what’s the takeaway? Those of you who responded hold a generally favorable view of Mizuno. The lack of vitriol suggests that at worst there may be some indifference towards the Mizuno Golf brand.

The company will never be #1, but I don’t believe it has any aspirations to be. Steady improvements to an already quality line would appear to be the goal, and in that context, Mizuno is succeeding admirably.