SHOCKING! Ever wonder y Li Ning rackets are so expensive???
In 2009, Li Ning became a hot topics in badminton world, more so after it managed to clinched the sponsorship of China badminton national team. After 2009 Sudirman Cup, Li Ning badminton products made a “glittering” entry into consumers market. However, in the past few months, questions on the quality of their rackets, and particularly their shocking price range, became hotly debated in the badminton fans zones.
The following are some HOT news taken from a friend who has an insider working in YONEX Japan.
Li Ning and YONEX relationship:
Since 90s, Li Ning has already been eyeing the badminton market. Simple reason being this sport has a big following in Asia, particularly in China alone. At that time, the No.1 brand in badminton has to be Yonex. And to save time to penetrate the market fast, Li Ning has the wild ideas of buying over Yonex.
In 2001, official offer was made by Li Ning to Yonex to buy over them but in the end Yonex rejected the offer, due to management and sales strategy differences cant be sorted out.
In 2007, after few years of establishing good “guan xi” (relationship) with the Chinese National Badminton team, in the end they managed to clinched the sponsorship for the team. However, at that time, Li Ning does not have their own racket products. So, again, an offer was made to buy over Yonex. Again, Yonex rejected. In the end, the “sponsorship” end up with Yonex rackets, and Li Ning shoes, and badminton wear for the Chinese National team .
This time around, Yonex voices out their displeasure over such arrangements. In the end they pull out totally from the Chinese team sponsorship, leaving Li Ning in deep ****. If they failed to came out rackets on time for the sponsorship, Chinese team will drop them and globally their brand name will shrink very fast. This prompted Li Ning to pump in lotsa $$ and take over KASON, in 2008. (Then No.1 Local Chinese badminton brand inside China). After the take over, however, Li Ning ofund out that even though KASON rackets are generally good, they are not up to the National team expectations and standards . Again, problem arised. In the end, they choose to produce their own rackets under Li Ning’s brand name.
At this critical time, a GuangDong based badminton manufacturer who help manufacture GOSEN rackets offer help in producing Li Ning rackets. (Hence it is true that Li Ning and KASON racets are produced differently). However, the rackets produced by this GuangDong factory again failed to meet the expectations of the Chinese National team, citing balancing and speed issues, compared to Yonex rackets.
In the end, the BEST part of the story happened. Yonex – owned japanese factory that produce the carbon fibre for high end YONEX rackets decided to “help” Li Ning, at a super high premium of course. With no where else to run to, Li Ning has no choice but to “submit” to this high premium lesson.
So, from 2001, until 2009, plus the very high premium paid to Yonex owned carbon fibre factory, i believe now you can understand why Li Ning N90 is priced at RMB 1980 /stick.
CONCLUSION? Li Ning racket is same quality in terms of materials with YONEX (the source are the same, from Yonex-owned fibre factory). In terms of technology, the R&D mostly comes from KASON due to such short time. The price? Now you know why you have to pay such a high price for their rackets.
Is it worth it from consumer’s end? Well to me, as long as the rackets suits me, and as long as it is not 5k, 10k i am willing to give it a try. Will Li Ning last? Well with KASON and now their own Li Ning brand in their belt, and with Chinese National Team sponsorship, you bet it will sure pose a challenge to most major brands.
Cheers. (Next to come on Yonex future strategies. And detailed N90 reviews )