Yang Yang badminton rackets are named after the legend that is Yang Yang, the two time world champion in 1987 and 1989. He also won the All England in 1989, and many other grand prix tournaments around the world. When he retired he and Zhao Jianhua, who in my opinion is the best badminton player ever to pick up a racket, put their names to a line of badminton racquets. They are not very well heard of here in the UK. However, in other parts of the world, especially in the US, they are very popular.
As far as a marketing exercise goes, the idea of putting a famous name to a line of rackets has always been used to help sales. The fact that Yang Yang is from China, and that most people in the west have never heard of him, unless they are keen badminton players, would no doubt account for the fact that they are not well known in the UK. Why Yang Yang rackets are popular in the US is a bit of a mystery, and i am pretty sure they would not sell huge amounts there, just enough to cater for a small niche market. Perhaps i am wrong here, i don't know, because badminton is seen as a minority sport here in the UK, yet there are still 2 million people picking up a badminton racket every week, so there are 2 million people who need a badminton racket, this is a big market, and this is just in the UK. There must be more people playing in the US than in the UK?
I have a feeling that Yang Yang will sell more racquets in Asia than over here, badminton is far more popular over there, and god only knows how many people play every week. That market is huge compared to the rest of the world. More people in Asia will have heard of Yang Yang, and so more people will buy his rackets, purely based on his reputation. Now the key here is reputation, because if you are a badminton legend, the product you are selling has to be the very best, otherwise your hard earned reputation will go down the pan. It is a big gamble in my eyes, but must be worth the risk if you get it right.
Has Yang Yang got it right? Well after doing a bit of snooping around on the internet, it appears that there is a huge selection of badminton rackets with the Yang Yang name on them, as well as shuttlecocks, clothing, shoes, bags, nets, posts and anything else you can think of. I have managed to find one stockist of Yang Yang products here in the UK, and the prices are competitive compared to other leading brands. After looking at some online badminton shops in the US, there are different models in different countries, so it gets a bit complicated, but then again, most manufacturers do this to suit various markets.
Going off what is available in the US i will take a little look at one of the many Yang Yang ranges, the Nano Sensation range. The top racquet is the 110 which is made from nano carbon and titanium. It weighs 85-90g and has a stiff flex rating, as does almost every other top end badminton racket. The balance is slightly head heavy with an isometric head shape. It is aimed at advanced players and will set you back around $140, although the UK website i found for Yang Yang rackets sold it for about £60. The US website would only string this racquet up to 24lbs tension, which kind of defeats the object of stiff rated bats.
Next is the Yang Yang Sensation 900,which has Kevlar in it, so i guess this badminton racquet is bulletproof. The difference between this and the 110 is the balance, with the 900 being more head heavy, and so is aimed at advanced offensive players, the idea being you can generate more head speed on impact, and thus create more power. Refer back to the previous post on badminton rackets and injuries for the low down on using head heavy, lightweight rackets. Anyway, the 900 costs the same as the 110.
In fact, this type of racquet would be good for my experiment, i would just add perhaps 5g of weight to the handle and make it head light balanced, but it would still have a fair amount of weight at the top. I am also now thinking of what would happen if i did this with a medium flex, or flexible badminton racket, with a head heavy balance to begin with? I reckon this would give a fair amount of power, with even less work from me. I would need control, so the strings would be strung at 25-26lbs tension, but not too tight that it will start to make my shoulder ache. I believe that this could well be the perfect compromise between control and ease of use. Hmmmm.
I am going off track a bit here, so back to Yang Yang. Next in the Sensation range is the 800, which is very similar to the other two racquets, with a stiff flex, isometric head, head heavy balance, but the 800 is slightly lighter, at 84g. Now what gets me, is that the marketing talk on this particular online store i am getting this info from states that this racket is easy to swing. A head heavy racket will feel cumbersome, and from my previous posts, you now know that a head heavy balanced bat is not easy to swing at all, in fact is a very "high work" racquet, so you have to put all the effort in to get the swing speed and power. Head heavy balance will always feel sluggish, so this marketing talk is just plain wrong. The 800 costs $129.95.
Next in price is the Yang Yang Nano Sensation 100 badminton racket. This costs $129.95 and is combines Kevlar with nano technology. Now this 100 has an even balance and a stiff flex rating, so it is aimed at all round play because it should be easier to swing around.
The Nano Sensation 90 is the same as the 100, but does not have Kevlar in it, so it costs $119.95. From this we can conclude that Kevlar costs an extra $10! The Sensation 400 has a medium stiff flex rating and head heavy balance. Again the marketing talk says this racket will create massive power and yet is also easier to manoeuver in defensive play. Cost is $109.95.
At $89.95 we have the Yang Yang Aplha One, with an even balance and medium flex. It is lighter than the other rackets, at 80-84g, and is aimed at all round play. I have also seen on sale the Yang Yang Woven Titanium Fighter racket at $99.99. This has the muscle wave string technology, and has a medium stiff flex with very head heavy balance. The weight is 84-89g (3U-) this has proved to be a popular seller as it has sold out at this shop.
There are many other ranges from Yang Yang, such as the Tactic series and the Woven series, it is just proving difficult to find information on them. A bit more snooping around is needed, so when i find out i will post it in the future. Yang Yang seems to be actively involved in sponsoring grass roots badminton, which is good news, and his badminton rackets are competitively priced, so if you can find them, maybe you can try one out yourself.