The Price Problem

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
By Arthur Lui

Made in China

There seems to be a fear of low-cost equipment in some circles. As a retailer myself, I’ve had customers walk away because the price tag was too low. “A whole racket for only $75? No thanks. I’m looking for something around $200.” They seem to think that price has a direct relationship with quality and performance, so Chinese brands like DHS, 729/Friendship, LKT and Gambler can’t compare to Butterfly, Donic and Stiga.

Twenty years ago, they would have been right.

Quality control and manufacturing have improved by leaps and bounds while the cost of labor has still remained very low in China, so prices have stayed low for Chinese manufactured goods. So why aren’t people taking advantage?

I’m currently using the 729 Dynasty Hinoki Carbon blade with Cream Transcend on the forehand and Gambler Wraith on the backhand. Total price tag? $60 USD. How’s it holding up? Well it’s helped me earn a 2136 USATT rating playing once a week. Imagine if I actually trained seriously. I don’t say this to boast, I’m just trying to make the point that you don’t need to spend $54 on each sheet of rubber and over $100 on the blade to succeed. Your key to success does not depend heavily on how much you’re willing to spend.

The Butterfly Tenergy 05 ($54) and Stiga Boost ($60) rubbers have made a lot of headlines as the rubbers of the future after the speed glue/booster/tuner ban, but there are some Chinese rubbers that are now being considered comparable substitutes (though not exact clones) which are worth trying, given the low cost.

So give them a try. If you find a lower-cost option, this will save you tons of money in the long run. And this money can go towards coaching, which will really improve your game. So why not save some cash and give them a shot? Aren’t we still in the middle of a recession?

Have you made the switch to lower-cost equipment?

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13 Responses to “The Price Problem”

  1. JimC says:

    I agree. I don’t play much anymore-just train kids but I used to use the expensive stuff for 20 years where I floated between 1800 and 2075. Over the last few years I have been buying the 729 stuff from ATT and now ZeroPong and it works fine. Of course I remember the days when I could buy a sheet of sriver for 6 dollars :-) and “TORNADO” at 12 was the most expensive stuff around

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  2. Best99 says:

    I agree and desagree.
    You know, in my opinion Butterfly has the best blades overall. This trademark is the owner of the well-known primorac, primorac carbon, amulart, photino, keyshot, keyshot light, and a lot more.
    For the other part, I think that some of its products are overpriced, too. With the excepcion of Tenergy rubbers, most of the other rubbers are very expensive.
    Is for this reason that I reccomend Butterfly blades but DHS, Stiga, TSP, Butterfly and Joola rubbers.

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  3. JimC says:

    Best99 makes a sound point. Yes, the Butterfly blades generally have the best craftsmanship. I do not know if that translates to actually better performance. I at best was a 2100 player so I cannot speak for Primorac or Boll etc. However, I know alot about other sports. For example, when I was a world class skeet shooter, I shot K-80 shotguns which, along with the gun I won Junior nationals with (A perazzi in 1979 or so) were the best made. Yet, my scores with 2000 dollar berettas or 1000 dollar brownings were the same. I shot the K gun because they lasted longer. I also am an olympic style archery coach. No doubt, in the mid 1990s the Yamaha Super Feel Bow was the best made. Gorgeous forged aluminum riser. A riser with ceramic limbs cost, in 1995, twice as much as the other two top choices-the SKY Conquest and the Hoyt Avalon Plus. Yet, having shot all three (as did a member of my club-the greatest target archer in history-Darrell Pace-)I would rate the Yamaha below the other two in terms of performance even though the craftsmanship was better in many aspects.

    Back to the point, The BTTY blades are the best made. I don’t know if they play better and yes, I normally use a Boll Spark with Chinese rubber these days and don’t see any difference. But the 32 dollar 729 blades I use play pretty much the same to me.

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    • Arthur Lui says:

      Actually I just got a BBC (Blade by Charlie) and the craftsmanship was better than what I saw from Butterfly. The handle was perfectly smooth and even a bit shiny. I haven’t actually played with it yet, but it looks very pretty!

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  4. Robert says:

    There is definitely a stigma attached but what people don’t realize is that products in europe/america cost far more than they cost to make! Chinese products like this still make huge profit despite being sold at less than half the cost. People just need to be more open minded.

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    • Arthur Lui says:

      So in general, are the manufacturers and retailers making more profit per unit? (not as a percentage, but as a dollar value).

      If you buy wholesale from Zeropong, and sell at the suggested price, you make about $7 per sheet as a dealer. Do you make more or less by selling Butterfly rubbers?

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  5. Otakujo says:

    To keep things short and sweet as with everything
    else, you definately get what you pay for. Being a somewhat equipment
    junkie and swearing to the more inexpensive brands like
    729 and dhs for years, i thought Japanese and European brands were way over priced. But after trying all the different cheaper alternatives ( being somewhat of an equipment junkie of course) my
    findings were the higher quality Japanese and European offerings delivered in multiple areas where there cheaper alternatives only did in few but not
    all ways.

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  6. FiReSTaRT says:

    Arthur, I must ask you to remove this blog post. If you promote Chinese products too much, eventually there will be enough of a demand to raise the prices and those of us with an eye for quality stuff at low prices will be left without this very nice market segment ;)

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  7. Amesama says:

    well do you guys have anymore cheap Blades and Rubbers that you can recommend :D

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  8. Chimson says:

    Personally as someone who is just getting into table tennis I find the price of Euro/Jap products as an impediment for me taking the game more seriously, I can’t just cant afford this stuff.

    What are the Chinese alternatives for the classic beginner rubbers like Sriver and Mark V? How do they compare in terms of the way they play and in price?

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