State of Disc Golf 2015: Manufacturer Overview
Before you read:
To understand how Infinite Discs has come to conclusions in this article, please read our State of Disc Golf 2015: Introduction post.
Which brand is the favorite in 2014?
Innova ran away with the title of most popular brand again in 2014. While that fact may not be surprising, what stands out is the amount of increase in popularity from 2013 to 2014. This year, nearly half of all respondents chose Innova as their favorite brand of disc (48%). According to last year’s survey, 38% of disc golfers chose Innova as the favorite brand. That is a sizable increase in one year.
[one_half]Coming in second place is Discraft at 12%. That percentage is down slightly from 2013. Third place belonged to Latitude 64 with 10% of respondents listing them as the favorite. Dynamic Discs came in next at 6%, followed by MVP and Prodigy, with 5% each. The top six manufacturers stayed in the same order from 2013, with their percentages changing only slightly.
It isn’t surprising that Innova remains at the top of the disc golf world. They have a long, thriving history, the largest selection of models and plastics, they are made in America, and they sponsor three-time World Champion Paul McBeth. They are an established institution in disc golf.
Because of its dominance, Innova is also sold in department and sporting goods stores, in addition to specialty disc golf shops. For that reason, many respondents are only familiar with Innova.
2014 Survey Change
Last year, in many of the survey questions, several brands were combined and listed as a single manufacturer. For example, Latitude 64 manufactures Dynamic Discs and Westside (also known as Trilogy). This year, “Trilogy” brands had 19% of this pie.
Likewise, MVP and Axiom are made by MVP and 6% of the pie.
This year, and in future surveys, each individual brand will be considered separately so its changes are clearer from year to year. In this summary, we will mention the combined statistics for comparison.
Only 6% of disc golfers are so loyal that they will only throw discs from one manufacturer. Most respondents choose from a variety of brands. That’s important because it says that even though people have their favorite brand, they are willing to try different ones. Of the 6% who only throw one brand, 61% of them chose Innova, while Prodigy and Discraft loyalists represented 14% each. Vibram came in at 3%, Legacy just over 1%, and all other brands less than 1%.
Not surprisingly, when asked if you HAD TO throw only one brand, which you would choose, the results were nearly exactly the same as the favorite brands. Only a percentage point at most separated this category from the favorites. Last year Latitude 64 was selected by 20% of the respondents, but included Westside and Dynamic Discs brands. This year, adding the numbers from those three brands, we get 21%, which is nearly identical.
What does the future hold?
While Innova remains the undisputed king of disc golf, several smaller brands are releasing popular discs and working hard to claim their share of the market. That is good, because competition among manufacturers is healthy for the sport. Several statistics indicate that smaller companies are making headway.
Most Anticipated Releases
To start with, in addition to the fact that most respondents throw several brands of discs, the survey also indicates that they like to know what discs will be released from many different manufacturers. Which brand’s releases are people looking forward to the most?
Innova still leads at 33%. After them is Latitude 64 at 11%. Dynamic Discs was the third most anticipated brand with 10%, followed by Discraft, MVP, and Prodigy with 9%, 8%, and 7% respectively. Westside rounds out the top seven with 5%. Even though 48% of disc golfers chose Innova as their favorite disc company, only 33% anticipate its releases more than other brands.
Last year, Innova received only 16% of the votes, showing a major increase this year. On the contrary, MVP was the most anticipated in 2013 and has dropped off significantly. At the time of this survey in 2013, MVP had just announced the Axiom brand (which is now its own option in this survey), and rumors of their distance drivers were on the horizon.
When we combine the Trilogy numbers for this year, we get a total of 26%, which is up quite a bit from last year’s 18%. Innova’s and the Trilogy’s increases came at the expense of MVP and Prodigy, who decreased 12% and 7% respectively. Discraft’s anticipated releases raised slightly, from 8% to 9%.
Most Innovative Brand
When it comes to innovation, the race is a little tighter among manufacturers. Innova is perceived to be the most innovative company, and garnered 27% of the votes, up from last year’s 17%. MVP was not far behind this year with 19% of respondents. That is a decrease from 38% last year. Latitude 64 was next with 12%, followed by Dynamic Discs and Prodigy at 9% each. Vibram, the only company making discs out of a different material, carried 7% of the votes. Discraft sat at 5%. Comparing Trilogy brands to last year shows an increase from 11% to 21%, which puts them in second place.
While some brands have taken strides in innovation, we feel that a few have accomplishments worth emphasizing:
In 2014, the efforts put in collectively by Trilogy brands have been amazing and they receive our vote as the most innovative. They have diversified their product lineup, popularized the Missilen, which has divots in the plastic for increased aerodynamic properties, and have launched a new blend of plastic which is durable, transparent, flexible, and grippy. But, outside of the product line itself, Dynamic Discs has raised the bar in marketing and creating a premium identity within the industry. Singling out Dynamic Discs within the Trilogy category, they have launched an app specifically for their home National Tour tournament, the Glass Blown Open (which is already sold out at 900 competitors), they have created beautiful short video teasers for new releases, and they sponsor weekly podcasts (which is not new this year). In the end, hats off to Dynamic Discs for their all around efforts to innovate, not just in plastic, but in overall growth for disc golf.
For how small and young MVP is, they garner many votes in this category. MVP has the best overmold in disc golf. Because it is so unique, it will always stand out as innovative, even if it was introduced long ago. That’s not to say MVP was not innovative in 2014. This year MVP introduced the only overmold discs to ever see the fairway, and they have expanded their product lineup to bring brilliant colors. It’s clear that with MVP their mantra is “If you are going to do something, do it well”. We sometimes consider MVP the “Apple” of disc golf.
In 2013, Prodigy faired well with the amount of new releases, unique plastic blends, and “easy release technology” (which we don’t hear about often anymore). In 2014, Prodigy introduced a new basket with inner horizontal chains which make a chain-out impossible when you hit the target zone. It will be interesting to see how this innovation affects the sport moving forward.
Innova does something new on an annual basis. In 2013 they began production of overmold discs. In 2014 they created GStar plastic and released it in several popular molds. GStar is a unique blend which is opaque, flexible, durable, grippy, and attractive.
Largest Impact on Disc Golf
The survey also sought to find out which company had the largest impact on disc golf in 2014. The top vote recipient was Innova, who edged out Prodigy, 26% to 22%. Dynamic Discs received 17% of the votes, Latitude 64 got 8%. Discraft and MVP rounded out the list of companies making the largest impact, with 6% and 5% respectively. Innova and Prodigy sponsor a majority of the most widely recognized and skilled disc golfers in the world. That exposure undoubtedly contributed to the high numbers for those manufacturers in this category.
In addition, Innova’s impact on disc golf for simply being in so many stores cannot be measured. How often are players introduced to disc golf while browsing for discs at Hastings? Even Innova may have a hard time calculating that number. Because of the availability of Innova product, more people become attached to disc golf.
Last year Prodigy was voted as the top company to impact disc golf with 40% of respondents. Innova was a distant second with 16%. MVP held a larger share than this year, sitting at 12%. Latitude 64 took fourth with 11%, compared with this year’s combined Trilogy result of 27%.
Best Reputation in Disc Golf
Which disc golf brand has the best reputation? In the most lopsided category, Innova crushed the competition with 58% of the votes. The next closest was Discraft at a distant 12%. Dynamic Discs had 8%, and Latitude 64 had 7%. MVP and Prodigy tied at 4%. That says a lot about Innova when people who throw other brands still respect them.
Last year Innova also led the category with 51% choosing them. Discraft took second last year with 16%. Latitude 64 and MVP rounded out the top four with 11% and 7%. The Trilogy result for this year is 16%, which is still significantly behind the leader, Innova.
Innova dominates the disc golf world, but certainly has a lot of competitors hungry for a bigger slice of that growing pie. What would it take to unseat the giant? Major breakthroughs are rare in disc golf. True, discs come along that certainly make waves, but what new development will occur that might allow one of the smaller manufacturers to become the new number one? Maybe a new plastic type? Or new material altogether? It’s more likely that smaller brands will just need to expand their lines to offer a bigger variety of speed and flight characteristics. And, just keep getting their name out there. Sponsoring disc golfers, sponsoring major tournaments, and offering specialty tournaments might turn the tide for Innova’s competitors. Perhaps smaller companies might focus on introducing new players to the sport. That would grow the sport, the customer base, and possibly create lifelong, dedicated fans of their brand.
Thanks to all of you who took the time to share a little part of your disc golf world. The results will be posted in periodic blogs at InfiniteDiscs.com, each blog covering different aspects of the survey. If you would like to be alerted to new posts, scroll down to join the Infinite Discs mailing list.
In coming articles we will explore more nuances of respondent’s choices for tops brands. We will examine who the typical disc golfers is, and how that affects which brands they prefer. We will also look at who is switching brands and which companies they are moving to and from.