Srixon / Cleveland Golf / XXIO
Ryan Polanco has more than seven years of experience working in the sporting goods industry. Starting in the industry as an intern he has worked primarily as a product/category manager for numerous categories in both golf and baseball. Most recently he has been working as the North American Marketing Manager over the last 3 years for Srixon/Cleveland Golf/XXIO and now ASICS Golf.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Normally it’s a quad shot espresso, but most recently it’s my beautiful wife and our little one on the way.
What was the genesis for the two new golf shoe models by ASICS?
Our longstanding relationship with ASICS in Japan has created a unique opportunity to bring the tremendous brand and quality product offering to North America where ASICS golf shoes haven’t previously been offered. These two new pairs of golf shoes are the first step into the golf shoe market in North America and both are a great launching pad for the brand for years to come in the golf space.
What differentiates this model of shoes from what already exists on the marketplace?
The legendary performance and design heritage of ASICS footwear and pulling from the numerous performance technologies is a great place to start. While both the Gel-Course Glide and Gel-Course Duo Boa perform well on the course they will also give sports enthusiasts an updated and sporty look.
Golf shoes face an unusual dilemma — they need to be durable and yet fashionable attractive. Is such a combination possible?
Absolutely and more recently they need to be more than just a golf shoe. Spikeless golf shoes have grown in popularity in recent years because of the durability, style, and added functionality. The Gel-Course Glide is a great example of a sporty style that not only performs on the course but can also be worn to grab coffee before the round or to run errands afterwards without anyone other than fellow golfers realizing they aren’t running shoes. The Gel-Course Duo Boa is more of a traditional golf shoe when looking at the sole, but also carries the sporty style and added technology ASICS has popularized for decades among numerous sports.
Given the dominance of FootJoy for many years in the golf shoe arena — how do you plan to secure market share against the 800-pound gorilla?
FootJoy has experienced a lot of years of success and does make a good product, but leveraging the decades of performance validation ASICS has in multiple sports arenas around the world, we know we are on to something. The biggest difference we have is the weight the ASICS name holds in the shoe industry. ASICS brand loyalists and sports enthusiasts hold their shoes to the upmost standards for performance, comfort, and style, which these two new styles of ASICS golf shoes are held to.
What proactive steps do you take to solicit feedback and what role does it play in terms of future production efforts?
There is a lot that goes into it, starting with initial product planning on what has worked for ASICS in numerous other sports categories. Numerous golfers and sports enthusiasts in our office help to give feedback, our Launch Squad and Survey Squad also help to collect feedback from consumers and golfers. Additionally feedback from numerous tour professionals are all various ways we gain early feedback. This info is all compiled and combed through in order to improve future generations of product.
Will the shoe be endorsed and used by various PGA Tour professionals?
Hideki Matsuyama and Graeme McDowell have both worn ASICS golf shoes over the last few years and there are plans to have more ASICS golf shoes on multiple tours next year.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
Stigmas. Golf doesn’t need to take 6 hours to be enjoyable, and you don’t need to play 18 holes to be able to enjoy the game. Play 6, 9, 12, or 15 holes with your friends, family, co-workers, and the ones you love; then sit on the patio and enjoy a meal and each other’s company after that.
Are there various different marketing strategies for Baby Boomers versus Millennials?
Yes there are, with varying levels of interests and purchasing habits there needs to be. Our efforts among digital, social, print, radio, and television allow us to craft different marketing messages on various formats to numerous consumer groups.
The biggest challenges facing your efforts — short and long term is what?
Some of the biggest challenges both short term and long term relate to the competition in the golf shoe space. There are a number of brands that have had a lot of success over the years, but we are excited about the quality of product we are offering into the market. ASICS brand loyalists have the highest demand for quality and performance, which the Duo Boa and Gel Course Glide shoes both succeed at. We have great confidence this brand and these shoes will succeed because of the appeal to both sports enthusiasts and golfers.
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