China's "golf boom" has attracted everyone from golf course designers and tour organizers to event planners and, now, premium golf brands like Ian Poulter Design (IJP), who see continued growth in the high potential Chinese golf market. Since golf still remains beyond the reach of most Chinese, golf will maintain its niche status for years to come, but the world class venues recently opened throughout the country and growing domestic interest -- particularly in South China -- mean that brands who get involved with the China market now, and aggressively market themselves, stand to profit in the long term.
Pro golfer Ian Poulter, who launched his signature golf apparel line in 2007, recently debuted IJP Design in the China market with an in-person event at Mission Hills Golf Club. Mission Hills, as the only outlet in the country to currently carry the line, is meant to be a launch pad for Poulter to introduce his brand and new Asia-adapted clothing line to the region. According to Poulter, IJP is embarking on an intensive localization strategy for the China market, distinct from other markets in which the brand is sold:
"The fit, the colours and the materials are all very important to the Asian market,” Poulter says. “Often in Europe, we use heavier fabrics while in the US some of the materials don’t have the same functionality. Asian golfers are generally a lot more conscious of materials and the hot sun. And as we branch into ladies fashion, the product will be UV protective.”
In addition to China, IJP is increasing its brand presence throughout Asia. Countries where the latest IJP Design collection can be found include Japan, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and Indonesia. In localizing the design, materials, and style for the Asian market, IJP is embarking on a strategy that has been used to great success by many other luxury brands, but has yet to be rolled out by newer golf apparel and equipment companies. As companies like Tiffany, Coach, and Cartier have found, effective localization -- at least in the China market -- requires attentiveness and responsiveness to the changing tastes of the China market. IJP has planned for this, designing and releasing a new line every six months.
According to Mission Hills Executive Director Tenniel Chu, IJP's stated aim to cater to the China market should be a good fit with Mission Hills Golf Club's objective of being China's premier world-class golf destination:
"Mission Hills is proud to be working with Ian to bring this iconic player’s unique sense of fashion to Chinese consumers”, says Tenniel Chu, Executive Director of Mission Hills Golf Club. “We hope that this initiative further underscores Mission Hills’ role in growing and developing golf by introducing fresh new ideas to the sport that shape its future course."