Merchandise Spotlight: Aqua Golf
IN SUMMERTIME, two activities that come to mind when the weather grows warm are taking a dip in the pool and heading out to the golf course. A surprising product found in seven (count ‘em!) catalogs this season that pairs these diverse pastimes is Aqua Golf.
Aqua Golf consists of an artificial turf and foam island, a chipping mat, 12 velcro-covered, floatable plastic golf balls and a pin. Using their own clubs, golfers aim their shots to land Velcro wiffle balls onto the floating green. This game simulates the thrill of the challenging over-the-water shot on the golf course.
These Catalogs Focus on Creating “Wants”
The catalogs offering this product range from those featuring home-improvement items or gardening tools to those that sell housewares or electronics. All are upscale, and offer unusual products for a person’s “wants,” not needs.
One such “want” these catalogs satisfies is a golfer’s desire to enjoy the game off the green.
We’ve seen a slew of golf accessories and products in these and other catalogs, which demonstrates the popularity of golf and the amount of money golfers are willing to spend on improving their game or making their time on the green more enjoyable. (Several of these catalogs also include putting greens for the office or home and even a golf-bag-shaped cooler!)
Golfers spend thousands of dollars on outfitting themselves for the sport. They buy clubs, bags, traveling cases for the clubs, accessories, balls, apparel and shoes, not to mention home putting greens, fees, memberships and lessons.
While, on average, most catalog purchasers are women, of the catalogs featuring the Aqua Golf product—
Brookstone, The Sharper Image, Sporty’s Preferred Living, Hammacher Schlemmer, Alsto’s, Silvo Home and Herrington—many have a high percentage or even a majority of male buyers. In addition, each catalog has a high average order—over $80, with some as high as $160. According to the catalogs’ demographics on their buyers, most of these men are married professionals and enjoy skiing and travel as well as golf.
Little Price Difference
The seven catalogs in which we spotted this product featured a price spread of only $10.95. With little difference in prices to tout, it was up to each catalog’s copy and visuals to sell Aqua Golf. Let’s take a look at how each catalog attempted to put its unique spin on this product.
Headline: Play a round of golf—poolside.
Spin: Fits busy schedule; can be used by players at all levels.
The Silvo Home catalog’s copy flatters the reader, assuming that he is busy and can’t get to the golf course as much as he wants due to his very busy schedule. That’s where Aqua Golf comes in. The catalog copy suggests, “Practice your swing anytime your schedule allows with our floating golf course green.”
In addition, the copy plays up variables that make the Aqua Golf rewarding for any golfer, regardless of skill level—”the wind creates ever-changing water hazards sure to challenge even the most experienced player.”
The Sharper Image
Headline: Ready, aim, swing! Target golf game determines the most accurate chipper.
Spin: All-season use.
The Sharper Image copy describes the fun of competing poolside to see who has the best shot.
And here’s an interesting twist: It is the only catalog of the bunch that finds another use for Aqua Golf when the pool isn’t filled up (in winter, spring and fall): “[it] floats in the pool in the summer and then moves to the yard or the game room for year-round play.” The Sharper Image emphasizes multiple uses for this green, upping its value to the golf-loving catalog buyer.
Headline: Aqua Golf floating practice green.
Spin: Plays on fantasy.
“Ever wonder how it feels to approach the green at TPC [tournament players course]? Now you can try it in your own backyard.” Addressing the well-versed golfer (we had to look up TPC), the description uses the golfer’s imagination to sell Aqua Golf.
If players have watched golf on television and seen the course, they will want to simulate this experience at home.
Headline: Aqua Golf. It’s a golfer’s fantasy island!
Spin: Focuses on the tough shot.
Alsto’s copy reads, “Enjoy one of the most exciting shots, hitting the ball over the water, to your own floating island green.” For the golfers who wish they had their own course and are bored of the putting greens, this copy hits home by tapping into fantasy. It entices the golfer who wants to spice up his/her practice routine by emphasizing how the over-the-water shot is one of the most exciting shots in golf, and now can be practiced at home.
This catalog also features the best product shot, since it is the only one that shows the product in action.
Headline: The only floating practice green.
Spin: Overwhelming benefits, especially family “quality time.”
“Transforming any pool into a challenging golf shot, this one-of-a-kind floating green can help improve golf skills, teach children and beginners, or simply be enjoyed as a party activity.” Hammacher Schlemmer’s description is the longest on benefits, with a laundry list of ways Aqua Golf can be used. It is the only description that speaks to the golfer also as a parent, saying that the product can be used to teach beginners and children how to play. All the other catalogs speak strictly to the reader as a golfer.
Headline: Practice chipping to your own island green, then cool off to retrieve your misses!
Spin: Drama, references to famous courses, humor.
Herrington spins the most romantic yarn of all the catalogs to sell you on Aqua Golf: “They’re the most dramatic holes in golf. From the 14th at Couer d’Alene to the 17th at TPC at Sawgrass, those par three greens surrounded by water represent the ultimate test of skill and nerve.”
Wow. Until now, did you realize just how exciting golf could be?
In addition, Herrington takes a humorous approach to reach the not-so-skilled golfer. It jokes that the Velcro stops the ball in its tracks: “(too bad you can’t stop the ball like that on a real green!)”
It’s also one of the only descriptions that mentions any misses: errant shots, it says, can be retrieved through a dip in the pool. Which brings up the point: Why aren’t any of the players in Herrington’s (and other) product shots wearing bathing suits?
Sporty’s Preferred Living
Headline: Hone your short game (and have fun in the process)
Spin: Fee savings, convenience.
The descriptive copy in this catalog reads, “You don’t need the 17th hole at Sawgrass to enjoy the challenge of an island green. Aqua Golf lets you enjoy one of golf’s most intriguing shots—one over water—in your own backyard.” As with Herrington’s tongue-in-cheek approach, Sporty’s Preferred Living reminds the reader that these golf balls float, just in case you actually miss your target. Sporty’s also adds a note of competition, suggesting that you can “entertain guests with a game of closest-to-the-pin.”
Sporty’s Preferred Living also emphasizes the comfort and convenience of being able to spend time in your own backyard, whether by yourself or with friends. You don’t need to be at a world-class golf course to enjoy the challenge of an island green—you can enjoy the same exciting shot at home anytime. And without paying for a cart or greens fees!
Alsto’s is the best product shot, showing the product up close and fading out the golfer in the background (so the prospect can imagine himself there). In addition only Alsto’s shows Aqua Golf in use with an action shot that suspends the ball in mid-air.
Herrington chooses to show the product up close, with only a small inset of the product in the pool, where it would be used. Since Aqua Golf is basically a floating piece of green foam, it is preferable to show it in use to entice the golfer to make the purchase.
Most of the illustrations are nearly identical, showing a golfer lining up his shot poolside, with or without other players. This one comes from Silvo Home and takes a very long view.
Though all the catalogs spin different yarns to entice golfers to purchase Aqua Golf, the price is almost consistent through the catalogs, with a price spread of $10.95 among the seven catalogs.