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Japan Golf Entrepreneur Series WINWIN Style

Like so many industries in Japan, golf product makers here are renowned for their high standards of workmanship, reliability and quality. Unfortunately, high labor and material costs can make it difficult to compete with big international brands that produce overseas in bulk. Because of this and other reasons, golf manufacturing start-ups are not common in Japan, but in recent years a few promising local brands have emerged, from fledgling companies to niche bespoke brands. Trailblazers such as Miura popularized the notion of custom, hand built Japanese clubs, in which feel and personal touch makes all the difference.

One company following in Miura’s footsteps is golf bag manufacturer WinWin Style. This Tokyo-based company has not only taken on the domestic market, but is also making headway with international customers with its unique line of colorful bags in a variety of cartoon-like and Japan-inspired motifs. Air spoke to Masatoshi Hori, the company’s founder and CEO, at his newly opened outlet near Tokyo’s bustling Shimbashi district.

WINWIN Golf visors

What is your background, and when and why did you decide to start your own golf brand?
I worked for a major department store for about 20 years, and then moved to an advertising agency. After that I launched the brand in 2005. At that time (and still to some extent now), there were very few new ideas and unique products among golf brands. Because the items that I wanted in order to make play- ing fun didn’t exist, I decided to design and produce my own.

What types of products do you produce?
In addition to golf bags, we make a series of accessories, such as markers, putter covers, belts, etc. But golf bags are our top- selling products.

How does a small Japanese brand like yours compete against the big domestic and international brands?  
Unlike the major brands, we don’t push our logo design, but instead WinWin Style competes with its unique original designs and the high quality of its products. We are always launching new models, designs and items year-round, and most of these are limited editions rather than mass-produced. Our fans know they have to buy early or risk products selling out.
Our prices are set higher than those of the typical big makers’ golf bags, but our customers are people who want something that is different from what other people have. Also, by increas- ing our techniques for direct contact and communication with WinWin users, such as the creation of a homepage and user site, holding golf competitions and so on, we aim to provide impeccable service and improve customer retention.

WINWIN Golf Clubs

Why do you think some Japanese golf brands have such large followings overseas?
There are a lot of different makers, so I can’t say that this ap- plies to all of them, but in general I think it’s the high quality of the products. Particularly in relation to equipment like clubs and shafts, they are creating top-class, elaborate products by doing a very thorough examination of data and strict quality control. Similarly, in the case of our company’s products, we aim to improve the quality even more and succeed through complete uniqueness gained by responding to the needs of discerning golfers.

What’s your outlook on the future of the golf market, and what advice would you give to someone who is looking to start out in industry?
I think that from now on and beginning with Asia, the world- wide golf industry will cross national boundaries and become borderless. Because of this, language ability is of course important, but I’d really like to see more people with global sensibilities taking the challenge to enter the market.

What are your plans for your business in the future, both in Japan and internationally?
I hope that within five years, our brand will be recognized not only in Japan, but also in Asian countries. After that we would like to expand to markets in Europe and North and South America.

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