Friday, 12 September 2008

Badminton Racket Prices

Why is it so difficult to buy cheap Yonex badminton rackets? Of all the many racket manufacturers, Yonex always seems to be the most expensive. It is very rare to see good deals on Yonex. I have seen this in the UK, all the Yonex rackets are virtually the same price, or should i say, they all have the same minimum price, which no retailer will go below. Why is this?

I have a friend who is an authorised Yonex dealer, and the "authorised" part is important here. This means that the Yonex rep has been round to see you and has deemed you are fit to sell their badminton racquets. Most of the time this means you will own a sports equipment shop, and have a reputable business. If you are an online business, the same will apply to your website, it will have to be professional and reputable.

Yonex will not allow just anyone to sell their stuff. If you have a market stall, Yonex will not supply you. Let's have an example. Let's say i wanted to start selling Yonex rackets. I have no shop, or even a market stall for that matter. My intention would be to sell these racquets on the internet. I would contact Yonex and ask them if i could have some stock please. Let's say i would invest my money on 1000 Nanospeed 9000's. These sell well no matter where in the world you are. I could probably get a discount by buying in bulk, and so each racket would cost me a little less. I could sell them on this site, or open up an ebay store. Of course, i would sell them just a little bit cheaper than anyone else, and so everyone will buy from me.

This of course is fantasy land. It will never happen. Why? Well first off, Yonex would not sell me those badminton rackets because they would like to see how reputable my business is. Selling their stuff on ebay is not going to cut it i'm afraid. Secondly, Yonex tell their dealers the price they want them to sell their rackets for. Think of Yonex as the Gucci or Armani of badminton. They are the premium brand, and so the price has to reflect their status. Premium brands have the exclusivity that other brands don't have.

There was a classic example of this in the UK a few years ago, when some of the large supermarkets got hold of some Levi jeans, and started selling them for really low prices, much lower than Levi jeans liked. They were very upset because it kind of devalued their image as a premium brand. The supermarkets did not get hold of their stock directly from Levis, because there was no way in the world that they would have supplied them unless they sold the jeans for a certain price. The end result is that the supermarkets don't sell them anymore.

No what would happen if Walmart or Tesco went to Yonex and said "we would like to buy 100,000 of your badminton rackets please" Do you think that Yonex would sell them? Of course, the supermarkets would demand a huge discount, which would then drive down the price. If you were in charge of Yonex, would you sell to them? Afterall, you would have the chance to sell off a large part of your stock in one go, albeit at a cheaper price than you would hav liked.

Well the answer is no, Yonex would not sell to them. Can you imagine what would happen if they ever did? For a start, all the other online retailers and small high street shops would go out of business, they could not compete. The Yonex badminton brand would instantly be devalued, so they would lose the ability to supply their badminton rackets at a certain profit.

This is how it works. All the online badminton retailers have no choice but to sell Yonex rackets at a set price. This is why the prices are the same. If one retailer decided to start selling at a cheaper price than anyone else, then Yonex would simply stop supplying them. It is price fixing to an extent, but it happens with every premium brand. The dealers have their hands tied, and i am sure they would just love to be able to sell them cheaper, so everyone will buy from them and not their competitors. It will just not happen, and it's not just Yonex, but all the other big name badminton brands as well.

There are two sides to the story. Yonex has to protect itself, it has worked hard to get where it is. You can only be a premium brand if you offer quality products, and we can all agree that Yonex makes quality badminton racquets. I know sometimes they break, i have had a few Yonex breakages, but that's life. The fact that so many other brands try to copy them is testament to this. They wouldn't copy crap would they? Think of Winnex, Tronex, EdgeSaber 7, Mighty Muscle, Armour Power, etc, etc. All based on Yonex technology.

Discontinued rackets are a different matter. When a racket is no longer being manufactured, then they can be sold off at a cheaper price to all the dealers, who can then sell the rackets at discounted prices. The problem with Yonex is that their rackets sell so well, that they are in no hurry to discontinue making them, and why should they?

A perfect example of selling discontinued rackets is Racketworld on ebay. These guys specialise in doing this, and they obviously have some great contacts to get hold of as many as they do, especially Carlton and Browning. Browning is a bit of a mystery to me. They must still be making badminton racquets, and i think perhaps Racketworld may have bought the rights to the name to be the sole distributer for Browning in the UK, no one else seems to sell them. In fact Racketworld are in the process of making a new website called, so they must indeed have the rights to the name in the UK.

The discounts on Carlton rackets are huge, i mean you can get hold of an Airblade Tour for £30, and this same bat a few years ago retailed at around £80. They must be making a profit, so god knows how much Racketworld are getting them for. You don't see many people selling discontinued Yonex stuff though. That's probably because they don't change their line up very often, unlike most of the other badminton manufacturers. Carlton seem to bring new ranges out every other year, so Racketworld must be happy about that, it gives them more of a chance to sell the discontinued ranges. Carlton don't seem to mind their rackets being sold on ebay, and is it devaluing the Carlton brand? Amazon also sell badminton stuff, but they do this via the "marketplace" section, which allows online retailers to showcase their products. It's a good way for these retailers to reach a very large audience, although Amazon will take a cut of the sales.

SOTX and Apacs also have ebay stores, so they must feel it is a viable way to sell their gear. There are some good bargains to be had as well from the smaller brands such as Fleet and Yehlex. They have their own website, and always seem to offer 2 for 1 deals. Perhaps their rackets don't sell that well, so they have to have special offers, or perhaps they do these special deals on soon to be replaced models. Either way, it represents a good deal for those of us who buy them.

The fact is that you are not likely to get any good deals on Yonex badminton rackets in the near future. Only when they discontinue part of their range, is it possible to get discounts, but don't hold your breath waiting.

It's not just rackets either, Yonex has put the price of shuttlecocks up four times this year. They are getting expensive now, especially the top end aerosensa shuttlecocks. The cheapest way to get hold of shuttles is again, from ebay, from the Yonex dealer in Hong Kong. I am not sure if Yonex know about this, but they do sell RSL and other brands, and RSL shuttles are decent quality, not quite as durable as the best Yonex, but not far off, and they are cheaper. I got six dozen for £54 delivered, and you wont find them much cheaper than that. If you buy more it's even cheaper.


Treating Sports Injuries said...

Very nice writeups Antony! I'm a huge badminton fan too! Where do you play and how often?

antony said...

Hello there
I play in the UK, in the northwest to be precise. I have been playing for around 25 years now, just reaching my prime at 37!! I play as often as i can, at least 2-3 times a week now. I used to play every day in my younger years. How about you?

jyeng said...

wow..yknow I sorta grew up with badminton here in Malaysia. Been playing off and on for years, then all of a sudden, I got bitten by the badminton bug again last year! I'm even taking coaching lessons and currently play 4 times a week! It's crazy..I love this game! I'm 37 too! I was reading something on Apacs rackets. Do u use them there? I just got one Nanospeed 8800 and it feels really good and cheap too! Am looking for a 2nd racket? Any recommendations besides Yonex?

jyeng said...

oh I'm also 'treatingsportsinjuries' i forgot which account I used to log in from. Sorry for the confusion!

antony said...

4 times a week is a pretty good effort!! well done for getting back into the swing. As far as Apacs rackets goes, they are virtually unheard of here, but i have recently seen a new website launched here, so hopefully there will be some of their rackets on sale. Apacs are pretty big over there? they are Yonex clones, but just not quite as good as the real thing. But the prices are much lower than Yonex, so that is why they are so popular i guess. As far as a racket recommendation i would have to know what kind of player you are, and if you already have a nanospeed, these are stiff rated rackets, so you must already have the power, the stiff rackets help with control. If you like your nanospeed, then go for something with a stiff flex and you should be fine. There are many rackets with this specification that are cheaper than Yonex.