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Odyssey's Expansion Aims To Maintain Category Lead



For many golfers, an Odyssey putter without an insert just doesn't look right. But this year, in an effort to break into the high-end milled putter market and compete with that segment's leader, Scotty Cameron, Odyssey introduced its first non-insert putters under the Black Series label.

"The point of difference we can bring to the super-premium segment of the market is added technology to a handcrafted putter," says Bill Knees, Callaway's senior vice president of marketing, who oversees the company's Odyssey brand. "And there are ways to do that other than adding an insert."

Odyssey's plan to grab a share of the lucrative high-end putter market likely will depend on its ability to convince consumers to pay more than it ever has for an Odyssey  golf putter. The Black Series is just one way that Odyssey is trying to stretch it's lead. It's still operating comfortably as the golf putter category's most dominant brand, a position it gained with the unprecedented success of the 2-Ball putter. At its peak in December 2002, that model helped Odyssey capture nearly 50 percent of all golf putter sales at on and off course shops. Net sales for Odyssey golf putters for the first nine months of this year were $88.1 million, a 3 percent increase compared with the same time period in 2006. As of September, it controlled 34.8 percent unit market share, more than double it's closest competitor, Ping.

With so much market share the question becomes how can Odyssey gain a little more? Especially when the putter category has been flat and a host of competitors are attempting to chip away at Odyssey's business. Now they're focusing on offering putters in three distinct categories - core, progressive and elite - each targeted at a different performance segment. The core (White Steel and White Hot XG) and progressive (White Hot SRT 3-Ball and White Hot XG Marxman) offerings have enabled Odyssey to rule sales in the $100-$170 price range. Odyssey's elite category reflects the skilled nature of its target consumer and the quality of the product. The Black Series is a more traditional line of milled putters for the player who doesn't want an insert.

So far, reviews of the Black Series are mixed. The putter line has earned four victories on four professional tours, most notably a win by Charles Howel III at the Nissan Open in February. Seven months after its introduction, The Black Series has only a 1.2 percent share, but it's commanding an average sales price of $228, thanks in part due to the credibility it has earned with its success on Tour.










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