Marketing social media

The Lucky Mascot

Kizuna India badminton strings had finally taken off. We slowly started getting new customers and the old ones were back for more bulky orders. So, things were going smoothly. What concerned us though, was that our marketing campaign had reached a roadblock. The basic question was how can we better ourselves in terms of marketing? How can we register Kizuna India Badminton Strings as a brand in the minds of people? How can we make them less resistant to buying Kizuna ?

Rikishi making his presence felt!

                The brainstorming for answers to these questions brought us to the idea of using a mascot. A mascot that represents Kizuna as a brand and the ideals that it seeks to promote. Well to be honest, it was not a tedious task. We had our parameters sorted. Something Japanese, strong, built to last, mighty and having a pedigree. Well, it was a no brainer that only a Sumo wrestler could fit the bill perfectly. Thus, began the hunt for a sumo wrestler. Unlike the traditional fierce one, we wanted a pleasant and cute Sumo wrestler that brought a smile to the face of people who saw it. We found one on a random website thankfully and got our designer to personalise it. Thus, was born our Rikishi(a gentleman of strength), with an attire that became our billboard.

                Slowly we started incorporating him into all our marketing campaigns and posts. The feedbacks were hilarious. As expected, the sumo wrestler was able to capture the attention of the people. It brought a smile to their faces and thus, Kizuna seemed to register in their minds positively. That is how we got a sumo wrestler to do marketing for us and trust me, they are not just good at Sumo wars!

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Tested OK!

Courtesy : Badlab Magazine,Germany


KIZUNA badminton strings, a Japanese company still relatively unknown in Europe, has established itself as one of the most popular string manufacturers in Asia in recent years. Responsible for this is Mr. Abe Hideo, who founded KIZUNA in 2013 and is responsible for the production and distribution of badminton strings and equipment “Made in Japan”. As a long-time badminton coach and national coach, Mr. Hideo has made it his goal to develop better badminton strings for weaker players and to support their play with it. Many popular badminton players lack stamina and technique and this is exactly where KIZUNA comes in. Good badminton strings should make you feel like a better player.

Regarding the methodology: Each test player tested all 5 KIZUNA strings on his own racket with the tension of his personal preference. It was between 10 kg and 12 kg. As always with BADLAB, the test criteria were not just any laboratory measurements, but the personal impression of each individual string on your own racket. As usual over several weeks in a long-term test. Since we do not make our tests for professional players, but for ambitious recreational players, our testers are a well-mixed team of highly ambitious recreational players up to the national league.

The character of each string was rated according to 8 criteria on a scale from 1 (does not apply) to 5 (fully applies). So the top rating is a 5. Let’s start with the hard facts:

KIZUNA Z58 Premium – 0.58mm Rating:1234th5 average
1. The string gives a good feel (touch / feedback)5 5
2. The string has good elasticity and damping properties14th 4.8
3. The string retains its elasticity (trampoline effect) for a long time5 4th
4. The string supports good length on clears23 4.6
5. The string supports my underhand play (e.g. in defense)14th 4.8
6. The string provides good control in short games (eg cut or short crossball on the net)5 5
7. The string offers a full, controlled power transfer on hard smashes.122 3.8
8. The string impresses with a good “sound”5 5

Assessment: The KIZUNA Z58 Premium / Medium – 0.58 mmAs the thinnest string in the world, it received special attention from our testers. It exceeded all expectations and was the only string to achieve the unanimous top value of 5.0 in 3 categories – namely for “good feel (touch / feedback)”, for “control during short play” and nothing else to be expected in the categories: “Sound”. In the other disciplines, too, the KIZUNA Z58 only just missed the maximum values. But the weak point of extremely thin strings also came to light in the evaluation of “controlled power transmission with hard smashes”. Nevertheless, an impressive 3.8 was scored here. We can recommend this string to all players for whom a good feel with an incomparable sound is more important than extreme durability.

KIZUNA D61 Duratech – 0.61mm Rating:1234th5 average
1. The string gives a good feel (touch / feedback)122 3.2
2. The string has good elasticity and damping properties4th1 3.2
3. The string retains its elasticity (trampoline effect) for a long time5 3
4. The string supports good length on clears32 3.4
5. The string supports my underhand play (e.g. in defense)23 3.6
6. The string provides good control in short games (eg cut or short crossball on the net)221 3.8
7. The string offers a full, controlled power transfer on hard smashes.131 3
8. The string impresses with a good “sound”23 3.6

Assessment: The KIZUNA D61 Duratech / Hard – 0.61 mm is technically and optically probably the most striking string in our KIZUNA string test. The KIZUNA D61 Duratech is a two-tone, ring-shaped twisted string in which Teflon has been processed, which has a very high coefficient of friction. Our testers see the advantages of this slightly rough string in the grip, which enables very good “control in short play” and “controlled defense in underhand play”. Otherwise, the advantages of this very hard string are probably more important for very good players than for ambitious hobby players, as most of our testers are.

KIZUNA Z63 X Premium – 0.63mm Rating:1234th5 average
1. The string gives a good feel (touch / feedback)131 3
2. The string has good elasticity and damping properties2111 3.2
3. The string retains its elasticity (trampoline effect) for a long time1211 3.4
4. The string supports good length on clears221 3.8
5. The string supports my underhand play (e.g. in defense)311 3.6
6. The string provides good control in short games (eg cut or short crossball on the net)131 4th
7. The string offers a full, controlled power transfer on hard smashes.122 4.2
8. The string impresses with a good “sound”131 4th

Evaluation: The KIZUNA Z63 X Premium / Medium – 0.63 mm achieved above-average values ​​in almost all evaluations. It is therefore no wonder that the KIZUNA 63 X is one of the top sellers of the KIZUNA string series in Asia. In our test results, there is no question that the string delivers a rich sound. It is also rated 4.0 points, as is the very “good control in short play”, which speaks for a soulful string. But the particular strength of the KIZUNA 63 X is its “rich, controlled power transmission for hard smashes” with a peak value of 4.2. An absolute top string that we can recommend to every type of player.

KIZUNA Z65 Premium – 0.65mm Rating:1234th5 average
1. The string gives a good feel (touch / feedback)131 4th
2. The string has good elasticity and damping properties32 3.4
3. The string retains its elasticity (trampoline effect) for a long time23 3.6
4. The string supports good length on clears5 4th
5. The string supports my underhand play (e.g. in defense)23 2.6
6. The string provides good control in short games (eg cut or short crossball on the net)23 2.6
7. The string offers a full, controlled power transfer on hard smashes.32 3.4
8. The string impresses with a good “sound”32 3.4

Assessment: The KIZUNA Z65 Premium / Medium – 0.65 mm has emerged as a solid all-rounder in our testers. The average values ​​are above the average for all test criteria. With top values ​​of 4 points each, the KIZUNA Z65 receives positive feedback, especially for “good feel” and “good length with clears”.

KIZUNA Z69 Premium – 0.69mm Rating:1234th5 average
1. The string gives a good feel (touch / feedback)122 3.2
2. The string has good elasticity and damping properties1121 3.6
3. The string retains its elasticity (trampoline effect) for a long time4th1 4.2
4. The string supports good length on clears5 4th
5. The string supports my underhand play (e.g. in defense)23 3.6
6. The string provides good control in short games (eg cut or short crossball on the net)212 3
7. The string offers a full, controlled power transfer on hard smashes.221 3.8
8. The string impresses with a good “sound”131 3

Assessment: The KIZUNA Z69 Premium / Soft – 0.69 mm is the thickest string in the test and is still well above average in all test criteria. A particular strength of this string for our testers is its “long-lasting elasticity” and its “good length for clears”. But the “full, controlled power transmission for hard smashes” was also given an impressive value by our testers, making this string a perfect all-rounder. If the meeting is not so precise, the KIZUNA Z69 is also very forgiving. Of course, this goes hand in hand with a few compromises in terms of sensitivity. Nevertheless: A real insider tip among the durable strings!

Conclusion: KIZUNA offers a very interesting range of badminton strings with a wide variety of characters – and from our point of view has rightly developed into one of the most popular string manufacturers in Asia in the amateur sector in recent years.

This test also shows that the choice of the “right” string is extremely individual. And basically the choice of the string largely determines the character of a racket. It’s worth experimenting! With this in mind, we recommend that you really look at the tables above in detail, even if three strings particularly stood out for our testers: The KIZUNA Z58 is our top recommendation for every badminton player who would like to find out how the feel of the game is Improve the sound of your racket with a very thin string. For the demanding all-rounder, we recommend the KIZUNA Z63 X. And the KIZUNA Z69 is our new insider tip among durable strings – especially for everyone who plays with nylon balls.

For all those who can’t wait to start sales in Germany / Europe, here is a link from the Indian distributor of KIZUNA.


Data is the new Oil


Kizuna India is not a name that we expected people of India to even have heard of faintly, let alone recognise as a badminton strings firm. We were clear about one thing from the outset. The task of taking the brand name KIZUNA to every player and more importantly, to every stringer in the country was going to be an uphill task. We were pretty much game for it as well. Our brainstorming sessions yielded fabulous ideas like email campaigning, whatsapp campaigning, telecalling etc. But what really bowled us over was the basic question. Who are we going to campaign? How do we get their contact?

                Having been in the sports business was a boon for us as we already had quite a few good contacts from sports retaining. However, these were mainly spread across the southern states. But to market Kizuna as an all India brand, we clearly needed a solid data of contacts from across the country. The first way to go about it was to get our existing contacts to spill out contacts of their fellow dealers. Now, the next step was to use the omnipotence of internet to our advantage by getting dealer contacts of our fellow-companies in the badminton industry. We literally struck gold with this one. One of our colleagues was given the sole duty to pull out the contacts of each of these from the internet. This took us to a new dimension of data collection. Having seen the enormous possibility of the internet as a source of data, we took things a little further. We slowly started covering every single city in India looking for stringer contacts one city at a time, one state at a time. Add to this, the inputs from Facebook, Instagram, Indiamart etc. Parallelly, we listed Kizuna badminton strings in Amazon to create awareness among the potential market buyers about the presence of such a brand. Amazon gave us Rs 2000/- worth of free advertising which fetched us around 2,00,000 views on our listings.  Eventually, they went on to become some of our great unpaid brand promoters after seeing the potential of the string. They led us to their stringers which just meant one thing for us. MORE DATA!

                Thus, we built our treasure of data. These were the ammunitions we desperately needed. Once we loaded these into our arms of mailchimp and whatsapp, we went all guns blazing with our marketing. Follow this space for more updates.

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The first move in North- East

Kizuna Logo in Japanese.

Having made our presence felt in the virtual world through Social Media handles, Website etc, we kick-started our email and Whatsapp campaign promoting Kizuna India Badminton Strings. Fortunately, we din’t have to wait long before we got our first order from UP from a small stringer. Despite the meager number, we were happy as that was our much anticipated first breakthrough in the giant market that India is.

We kept the campaign running in the hope of diversifying our reach in this enormous country. That’s when one of our previous customers, with whom we share years of business relation got in touch with us about the string. Being a player himself, he realized the impact that a product of this reputation would have in the current market and gave us the contact of a stringer from his hometown in Lunglei, Mizoram. We promptly approached them and passed on the information about the product. Now, expecting them to buy from us solely on the basis of a 15 min phone call would be wishful thinking. This is where our well-wisher played the facilitator and assured them of our reliability and his long term experience dealing with us. Our Social Media presence and Website added extra confidence and pushed them to take the first jump of faith.

                Thus, a bit of marketing, phone call on Product info and adequate assurances from someone well known got us our first dealer in the North East. We would like to see this as just the tip of a massive iceberg. North East has always been a sports friendly market and perhaps, one of the least tapped ones with immense potential hidden. Sang Sang Sports Co of Lunglei, Mizoram holds the key to the treasury chest that the North East badminton market is. Watch out for more updates as the story of Kizuna India unfolds.

Marketing social media

The Email Campaign

One of our posters from the Email marketing campaign.

One of the things with writing a blog on the sales and marketing efforts on Kizuna India Badminton Strings in India or for that matter any such effort is that we cannot really measure the benefits of it. As we cannot measure the benefits, it gets relegated to one of the important things but not an urgent one, as Stephen Covey says and gets delayed. Due to this, there is a time delay in this blog. More than what’s happening in the present this has things that happened some time back. The urge to record a journey that we and others can look into and learn and the belief that such a recording will help the website in the long run by keeping it relevant is what keeps this blog going.

When we collated the data of sports dealers from the internet we came across their email id’s also. We thought that as they are an interested group, we could start an email campaign and elicit their interest. We did some research and comparison on emailing software and zeroed in on Mail Chimp. They were small enough, had a free plan that was suitable for us and they were really user friendly, has the regular unsubscribe options so that we avoid spamming. We created a mail on Kizuna India badminton strings, it’s made in Japan tag and what is offers to the stringer and player, a landing page, analysed the right time and day to send such marketing mail. And we send the mail to the data base. And we wait.

About 30% of the mail gets bounced. Our account gets blocked in mail chimp as the software system judges that we are spamming. On analysing the bounced mails, we understand that while collating the info we made some typo, etc. What do we do? We create another mail chimp account, remove the bounced email, correct some of the syntax and send another email. This time it works. Not many email bounces. Mailchimp is not unhappy. The only problem is that the campaign has no results. No conversations, no interest.

What must have gone wrong? Is email as a marketing communication to the micro businesses in India not something that can work considering the different languages that we speak, the low level of English language skills of the target client base, the lack of usage of email as communication tool among this segment? Is that the reason why Whatsapp became such a phenomena in this country? It looks like emails are not an effective marketing tool if we want to bring the small stringers and the small dealers who are interested in making that extra buck. The big retailers are probably the people who use email as a communication tool. However, they will never get converted to a single product brand unless their customers demand for Kizuna badminton strings. These are all businesses that are big and demanding. They are not game for us for  the time being. We will tackle them when it comes to that. Meanwhile, we will continue chipping away using Whatsapp and phone calls to interested people who are the small stringers and small businesses and interested individuals. The good thing is that that is working and the numbers of our stringer partners are increasing day by day.

Marketing social media

The Leap Of Faith

Once the website was created, we quickly created some facebook, Instagram and twitter presence and decided to make some telesales effort to sell Kizuna India Badminton strings. During the Covid lockdown, we did some work collating a data base of sports dealers from the list of dealers listed in the Victor India website and couple of other reputed sports distributors in India. We also had our own dealers in south India with whom we still have good relations. It was decided that our earlier dealers in Kerala and Tamil nadu will be dealt by Rajesh. All new as well as earlier dealers in Karnataka and AP-Telengana will be handled directly from our office in a digital and tele-calling mode. Meanwhile, Rajesh started placing some reasonable numbers of Kizuna India badminton strings through his dealer contacts. 

Immediately after the website and the social media presence were created, we attempted making some cold calls. The usual stuff of telesales. Kizuna, made in Japan, Badminton strings, premium, excellent sound, and durability, better than BG65, better thanBG66 Ultimax, etc. The recipient’s responses were also equally cold with responses like Kizuna?, what Kizuna ? etc.

We decided to call this off and start a campaign on Whatsapp. We also realized that we have a pretty large database of people who contacted us for purchasing racket stringing machines. Our communication with this data base started giving reasonably good responses. They were mostly stringers and someone contacting them directly for supplying strings was mostly welcomed by many of them. We started calling them once we started getting a feel that the chats on Whatsapp are maturing to a conversion level. Over a period of time we started fine tuning on our tele-calls script. We created different sample packs for strings to first try our strings. We created Google pay to make payments easy. All this started paying off. We started getting our first order from the digital marketing effort and also from past good deeds, business integrity and relationships. 

Along with the above, we started making posts in social media and started asking our friends and well wishers to give us likes in our social media presence. The blog was started. Testimonials were started with real feedback from players and stringers who were early converters. We did some fine tuning of the website for making it SEO friendly using the yoast plug-in. Kizuna badminton strings were made available in Advertisements for strings were run in Amazon. Prices were reduced so that players will start getting. We started getting some orders in Amazon. 

Real people started stringing using Kizuna Badminton Strings and started playing with rackets strung with Kizuna badminton strings. A journey with its beginning in times of a pandemic started bearing fruits albeit small.