Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sports Gear: Sometimes it’s Worth the Extra Spend, Sometimes it’s Not.

   Our guest post this month features an article by Mindy Tan, Marketing Manager for Epic Sports, an online provider of sports gear. Mindy gives an inside look at buying sports gear—what determines quality and price, and how parents can make the right buying decision.

Price is a monetary value assigned to products for sale that most generally is decided by, or at the very minimum discussed with, the marketing department. It is not a reflection of the true quality of a product (or the lack thereof). That being said, a company cannot price products lower than the cost of manufacturing and pushing them through the distribution channel. A higher price can actually equate to higher quality.

So, when it comes to sports gear, how can you decide when it is worth the extra money to purchase the name brand?

There is no single universal answer because every person has different needs from their products. Though we may all use the gear for the same purpose, we need to consider other aspects of our personal sports experience that will have an impact on the worth of the gear.

  1. Endurance: If you can see yourself keeping the particular piece of sports gear until it has exceeded its life, you may be willing to invest in a higher quality, and thus longer lasting product. If you plan to outgrow or upgrade the product in the near future, you might not need a product that provides this longevity.

  2. Agility: Are you flexible with features or are you set on having some specific feature? A lower priced product might not come with all the features that you are looking for.

  3. Strength: What is the strength of your relationship with the sport? Are you likely to change sports or lose interest? Are you invested on a personal level or just recreationally involved? A young player or a recreational player doesn’t need the best equipment in existence to see if he/she likes the game. Unless there is a high affinity, most sports gear purchases can be negotiated to a minimum.

  4. Training: Heavy use can create the need for a more durable product, regardless of how long you plan to own the product.

Spare No Expense to Get What You Need

Because of the inherent danger involved with participating in certain sports, especially contact sports, there are some products that require a high quality product. Purchases of helmets and other safety gear should be made with care. This is an area where the amount of research a manufacturer puts into the design and development of its products is in direct relation to the quality of the product and the amount of money you should be willing to spend. Pay attention to independent studies and ratings on safety gear as well. More so than anything else, the quality of the manufacturing research, materials and process should determine this purchase— not price.

Footwear is another area in which there are specific criteria that one should consider prior to purchase. Knowing what type of foot the player has (flat, normal or with a pronounced arch) will help you identify which shoe is right for you. Comfort, durability, performance and stability are important factors, though if you will soon outgrow them, durability may not be an issue. Stability is a very important safety aspect. Whether name brand or private label, be sure that your athletic shoes offer stability so as to reduce your chance of injury.

Some Private Label or Generic Brands Provide Quality at a Better Price

There are lots of reasons a quality product can be priced low. Some manufacturers price their products low simply because that is the pricing strategy that their marketing department and/or founders wanted to go with. Many companies start small with a founder who just wanted to provide quality products that people can afford.

How can you determine which low cost products are of high quality and which are not?

  1. Read the fine print: Many times the difference between two products lies more in the extras that are provided for the more expensive version. For example, higher priced products tend to come with a manufacturer’s warranty that covers products for anywhere from one to five years after purchase. The cost of providing this warranty raises the cost of the products. Read the product description and contact the retailer and/or the manufacturer of the product with any questions you have regarding materials, manufacturing processes, and quality. Retailers who offer multiple brands have less incentive to deceive consumers on which is a higher quality —either way, they have another product for you. Manufacturers, on the other hand, might be a little biased.

  2. Experiment: Unless you don’t ever plan on purchasing the same type of product again, you may benefit from trial and error. By experimenting with purchasing products that are lower priced, you can see which ones are of adequate quality. Don’t want to take the chance? Read user reviews from a variety of sources. Don’t use advice from blogs or YouTube video reviews because many blog owners receive free products in exchange for an “honest” review. Instead, search reviews on the products at verified purchaser review websites.

  3. Determine if you are getting a good deal: It is possible to get good value on an expensive product. Consider the example of a football helmet. You are willing to spend $200 on a helmet because it could save a player from concussion and serious damage to the brain. The price of this product might be considered high (after all you could get a less expensive helmet from a company that has done less research) but the value you receive is high. Sometimes spending more equates to a better overall value—better than you would get from a "value" priced product.
So, in order to determine where you can save money and where you should spend more, you really have to rely on what is important to you in each individual product. You can then decide how much each of the product's features are worth to you and make the right purchase.

Written by Mindy Tan, Marketing Manager,

If you enjoyed this article, you may like my book:
The Joy of Youth Sports: Creating the best youth sports experience for your child (Amazon $8.95)

(Kindle Edition $2.99)

Copyright 2009-2012 Jeffrey S. Rhoads; All Rights Reserved


Jodi Murphy said...

"A young player or a recreational player doesn’t need the best equipment in existence to see if he/she likes the game. "

A lot of sports parents invest a ton of money into the high-end gear only to have their child decide one season was enough. Until your kid is fully committed to a sport you can stick with gently-used gear to help save some money.

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