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Golf Datatech, LLC, and Yano Research Institute Ltd., two leading independent golf research and data firms, unveiled the first U.S./Japan World Golf Market Report. Designed to capture the true size and scope of the combined U.S. and Japanese retail golf markets, the report offers data regarding equipment trends in the two countries which encompass nearly 70% of the world’s golf equipment and apparel market. 

Highlighting the study, data concludes that the overall size of the U.S. golf market vs. Japan in dollars, frequently assumed to be 2-1, is actually closer to a 3-2 size differential. This is based on an aggregation of all equipment categories, while considering a breadth of factors such as the respective economies, fluctuating exchange rates, annual weather trends, natural disasters and more. According to the report, the U.S. estimated equipment and apparel market netted nearly $5.1 billion in sales in 2013, while the Japanese market realized nearly $3.7 billion in sales (U.S. dollars). In 2012, prior to the devaluation of the yen, the two markets were even closer with the U.S. totaling $5 billion vs. $4.2 billion in Japan. 

Among the unique findings for individual product categories, the study reveals that the Japanese consumer spends significantly more on golf apparel than a similar golfer in the U.S., with total Japanese golf apparel sales actually exceeding those in the U.S., in spite of the fact that there are only roughly 8 million golfers in Japan vs. 24+ million in the U.S. Additionally, while the market for forged irons in the U.S. has dwindled to less than 10%, in Japan its closer to 40%. This data point speaks directly to the differentiation in golfing style between the countries, with Japanese golfers trending toward a more traditional approach to playing the game. Other key findings from the study include:

• In terms of U.S. dollars, the overall Japanese club market experienced a significant drop in sales, primarily due to a change in the exchange rate and not a function of the slowdown in actual sales. In yen, sales in Japan were up over 4% in 2013 vs. 2012.

• Irons sales in the U.S. market increased by 4% in 2013, revealing a category that eclipsed $820 million in sales, while the Japanese irons market was up 2% at nearly $600 million in sales for 2013.

• With more than 34 million dozen sold, the U.S. market represents 74% of golf ball sales for the combined markets. The average selling price for a dozen balls in the U.S. is $23, while it is $33 in Japan.

• Putter sales decreased by 8% in the U.S. market to $173 million and 18% in the Japanese market to $98 million in 2013.

“We are very proud of our collaboration with Golf Datatech to produce the first ever U.S./Japan World Golf Market Report,” said Takashi Mizukoshi, President of Yano Research Institute Ltd. “We hope this is a first big step in assessing the golf market trends of the world, especially those of developing countries where the future growth of golf is so important.”

“We were certain that the alliance between Golf Datatech and Yano, and this subsequent research study, would yield accurate and unbiased information on many of the industry’s key retail drivers, and it didn’t disappoint,” said Golf Datatech’s Tom Stine. “The significance of the report is vital to future equipment and apparel marketing for golf OEMs in the U.S. and Japan, and we fully anticipate that future reports will help to propel development of the global golf marketplace.”       

Overall, data derived from the first U.S./Japan World Golf Market Report captures total golf sales between the two countries, as well as covering research on individual product categories, including drivers and fairway woods, hybrids, irons, putters, total clubs sales, golf balls, golf shoes, golf bags, golf gloves and apparel.

“Golf is truly a worldwide sport, with the game being played in over 200 countries, but the emerging markets for golf like China, Southeast Asia, Central Europe and South America have just begun to touch their potential,” added Stine. “Further, golf’s introduction into the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil will undoubtedly spark interest in the game worldwide. This global expansion of golf necessitates a need to have solid, consistent data to track growth and progress on all levels, from player participation to golf equipment sales. This will be our mission.”