Running Insight 5.2.22

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MAY 2, 2022

Runchella 2022 Preview starts on Page 42


New technology in 'super shoes' is reaching the masses and provides a powerful category for run specialty retailers.



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MAY 2, 2022

6 Feeling Super

24 Sustainable Insight

12 Flex Appeal

25 A State of Mind

14 Balancing Act


18 Keep It Simple

42 Runchella Arrives

20 What’s Hot, What’s Next?

58 One More Thing

The super shoe category continues to morph and chase different targets. By Daniel P. Smith How Carbitex became a major behind-the-scenes player in footwear. By Daniel P. Smith Running shoe price increases must be accompanied by targeted marketing and product development in 2022. By Dirk Sorenson, Run retailers need to speak in terms customers understand when selling shoes. / By Tom Griffen

On Running dives into eco efforts and what they mean to run specialty retailers. An ambitious ASICS study reveals the impact of running and exercise on a person’s well-being.

Running Insight surveyed run specialty’s major footwear vendors to gather insight into what the second half of the year will look like on shoe walls across America. A special section on the Running Industry Association’s Chicago event that is bringing run specialty together.

Run retailers dish on their favorite new shoes and what’s next. By Cregg Weinmann

“Running With Purpose”— A new book by Brooks CEO Jim Weber shares a tale well told.

On the cover: Hoka’s Tecton X is one of the more prominent entires in the continued evolution of running “super shoes.”

The Staff RUNNING INSIGHT EDITORIAL Editor Michael Jacobsen Senior Writer Daniel P. Smith Contributors Tom Griffen Carly Russo Cregg Weinmann

RUNNING INSIGHT ADVERTISING Publisher Christina Henderson Daemon Filson Glenn Dulberg

Graphic Designer Deborah Page 4

RUNNING INSIGHT ® is a registered trademark of Diversified Communications. © 2022 all rights reserved. Running Insight is published monthly, is edited for owners and top executives at running specialty stores and available only via email, with three print issues in June and December. The opinions by authors and contributors to Running Insight are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. Articles appearing in Running Insight may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. Diversified Communications, 121 Free St, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 842-5500.

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SUPER The super shoe category continues to morph and chase different targets as footwear brands pick up the pace. / By Daniel P. Smith


hen Puma returned to the performance run category early last year, it did so rejecting the safe, traditional stylings of running footwear. Rather than leaning into a familiar pragmatic formula resulting in a perfectly fine and capable $120 neutral training shoe, the German company’s Bostonbased design office tapped into the rising “super shoe” wave. With the $160 Deviate Nitro, Puma inserted a carbon fiber composite plate between two layers of its bouncy Nitro midsole foam, a mixture concocted to give the everyday training shoe an extrapeppy feel. With the $200 Deviate Nitro Elite, then, Puma leaned on a stiffer, thermo-formed carbon plate, slicing 2.3 ounces from its Deviate sibling to deliver 6

a faster, lighter and more propulsive ride. “We needed to establish ourselves and we risked getting lost if we put out something like everyone else,” says Todd Falker, Puma Running’s senior product line manager. “These models allowed us to come to market with something strong and on trend.” But The Cat wasn’t done. At The Running Event last winter, Puma generated substantial buzz with its most ambitious shoe to date, the Fast-R Nitro Elite. A high-end marathon racing shoe in a bright neon colorway and punctuated by a plastic shark fin protruding from the heel, the $250 Fast-R Nitro includes a full-length carbon fiber plate running through a decoupled midsole. While the rear midsole features a shock-absorbing EVA foam, the forefoot

is generously packed with Puma’s biobased Pebax foam (Nitro Elite) to shoot runners forward. “We want to be cutting edge,” Falker says of the clearly cutting-edge Fast-R Nitro’s design. “We are the forever faster brand and we want to push the limits.” Puma’s attention-grabbing return to the running marketplace underscores the continued ascent of the super shoe category and underscores a definitive reality for the performance running marketplace: super shoes haven’t peaked. Far from it, in fact. Super Shoe Innovations Charge Ahead In the last two years alone, the super shoe category has accelerated from a field dominated by a few racing-oriented road shoes with high stack heights and carbon

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fiber plates into a more diverse and ever-swelling collection of models crafted with different technologies, for different purposes, for different people and at different price points. Fueled by discovery, new learnings, consumer interest and feedback, the super shoe category has ventured from the road to the trail, from the tip-of-the-spear athlete down to the everyday runner, and pulled run specialty retailers along for the ride with a series of compelling evolutions. As the folks over at Road Trail Run recently observed: “‘Plates’ are moving from monolithic rigid carbon plates to more dynamically flexing (Carbitex), shaped forms (New Balance Energy Arc), multiple plates in parallel (Hoka Tecton X trail) and non-carbon highly tunable plastics and fiberglass (Salomon Energy Blade). Brands also now offer nonplated versions of the plated platforms (Craft) or PEBA inserts surrounded by more stable foams (Craft, Saucony Xodus Ultra and some others we can’t discuss yet).” In this still-nascent footwear category, there is an unapologetic, daring and seemingly limitless spirit of discovery, of tweaking and refinement to broaden the super shoes lens and benefit runners. • Altra, for instance, recently unveiled the $240 Vanish Carbon, a thoughtful attempt to incorporate super shoe concepts into the balanced cushioning-natural foot shape framework Altra has finetuned over the years. The two-thirdslength carbon plate (Carbitex AFX Formed) found in the 7

Puma elite athlete and Olympic marathon medalist Molly Seidel sports the funky and fast Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite on a recent training run.

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Feeling Super (continued)

The super shoe category continues welcoming inspired new entrants, such as (top to botom) the sleek New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Pacer, the Puma Fast-R Nitro Elite with its decoupled midsole and the Hoka Tecton X, a trail shoe featuring two parallel carbon fiber plates.

Vanish Carbon is stiff in one direction yet flexible in the other. The plate, sur rounded by an energy-efficient Ego Pro foam, also includes flex grooves in the forefoot’s lateral side, which Altra co-founder Brian Beckstead says allows for more flex in the toes and a more natural and fluid toe-off. • I n its new FuelCel l Sup er Comp Pacer, New 8

Balance sandwiches a cambered carbon fiber plate within two layers of its popular FuelCell midsole, which features a void underfoot to allow for “maximum displacement” of the plate. Positioning the SuperComp Pacer as a racing shoe for distances from the 5K to the half marathon, New Balance also traded the hefty stack height so commonplace in many super shoes for a

sleeker 27mm/19mm design that reduces weight. (By contrast, the New Balance RC Elite 2 approached 40mm.) “It’s a shoe that’s closer to the ground, more nimble and with the benefits of high energy return,” New Balance general manager Danny Orr tells Running Insight. • Skechers, which first entered the super shoe game in Fall 2018 with the Razor 3 and Speed Elite, has consistently delivered new entrants into the super shoe field. Toying with distinct plate configurations, designs and technologies to “mainstream” the core elements of a super shoe, Skechers will drop the GOrun Persistence this summer. With its carbon-infused forefoot plate and responsive Ultra Flight cushioning, Skechers will soon bring super shoe elements to the everyday runner at a $110 MSRP price tag. • After The North Face broke into the super shoe trail category with its Flight Vectiv early last year, others have followed into the forest. Hoka’s ballyhooed, soon-todrop Tecton X features two parallel carbon fiber plates, a novel construction designed to provide a propulsive ride while still allowing for movement on the trail’s uneven terrain. And r unning footwear brands around the globe, from established powerhouses to enterprising upstarts, continue to dial into different use cases. They’re leveraging novel technologies and fresh lessons to bring super shoes to a larger group of consumers. They’re testing materials and midsole compounds with varying levels

of energy return, stack heights, weights and midsole geometries. They’re questioning traditional ideas and examining consumer reception. But just how interested is the market? Examining Consumer Interest At Atlanta’s Big Peach Running Co., director of footwear Lucas Stocks says super shoes accounted for about one percent of overall units sold in 2021 across the company’s eight stores. While that number isn’t robust, he nevertheless sees enthusiastic interest in the category. The challenge, he says, has been inventory availability. Many super shoes hit the market in limited releases, while pandemic-induced supply chain problems have not helped retailers meet demand in a steadily growing class of products. “That number would be higher if the footwear was more available,” Stocks says. Inventory challenges aside, Stocks is encouraged by the category’s rampant progression, particularly when super shoe elements weave into daily training shoes for average Joes and Janes. He says Big Peach has found success with the Hoka Bondi X, the brand’s max cushioned road shoe that is spring-loaded with a propulsive carbon-fiber plate. “That’s a bit more averageguest friendly,” Stocks says. “It’s something people can wear regularly that has a bit more pop.” Though the cancellation of local races due to COVID-19 dulled interest in super shoes at

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The all-new Cloudsurfer. Run on clouds.

Feeling Super (continued) The Runners Shop in Toronto, shoe buyer Ben Nelson expects to see interest climb throughout the spring and into the summer and fall as runners look to grab a performance advantage. “Runners are seeing these shoes as a way to capture their full potential in the sport,” Nelson says, adding that the distinctive feel of super shoes compared to mainstream models helps to show customers that it’s not a sales pitch or marketing spin. “Get these on runners’ feet and they feel the difference.” Balancing accelerating enthusiasm for the super shoe category with inventory is perhaps the biggest challenge buyers like Stocks and Nelson face. Runners hear about one particular model and that’s the one they want to try. Stocks recalls one week at Big Peach where it seemed one guest after another wanted to trial a different super shoe. “The shoe nerd side of me is completely intrigued by the innovation in this category, but the buyer side is trying to balance that with existing SKUs and finding the happy medium,” says Stocks, who hopes to see vendors commit to more inventory and make it easier for run shops to test product by not requiring large up-front orders. “The dilemma we face is which models to go with because there’s not a lot of historical data here and we don’t know what people will be excited about.” Nelson has tracked sales trends at The Runners Shop to inform his buying. One 10

Altra recently entered the super shoe space with the $240 Vanish Carbon, which features a two-thirds-length carbon plate with flex grooves in the forefoot’s lateral side to boost flexibility at toe-off.

compelling observation at his store: a stronger appetite for super shoes among men than women. While the Saucony Endorphin Pro is near a 50/50 men-women split at the Runners Shop, Nelson says most other super shoe models – the store displays a total of 17 men’s and 15 women’s “carbon” styles on its website – are purchased by men 70-80 percent of the time. That’s led Nelson to be more selective when ordering women’s models. Super Shoes Moving Forward By and large, super shoes have been a welcome addition to the run specialty marketplace, generating buzz with differentiated product and opening the door for associates to have the “two-shoe” talk. And the category’s continued evolution, especially with more versatile, accessible product,

seems promising. Orr says the appetite for super shoes has surpassed what he and his New Balance colleagues anticipated, while others, including Altra’s Beckstead and Puma’s Falker, see a growing number of runners recognizing the value of having multiple shoes and understanding that different shoes exist for different purposes. “So far, the market wants more and that’s why brands are building more,” says Beckstead, adding that running footwear has “never been in a more innovative time.” Between midsole technologies, materials advancements, developments in plates, a richer understanding of footwear geometry and deep research into biomechanics, including footwear’s interplay with the body, Beckstead expects running shoe manufacturers to

continue pushing the limits in the super shoe category. “I don’t know where the ceiling is,” he says, though he suspects regulations will likely determine where super shoes go on the high-performance racing side. (It’s worth noting that the director of health and science at World Athletics, running’s international governing body, acknowledged last summer the need for more sophisticated rules to keep pace with super shoe advancements.) Keith Shelton, senior director of performance running at Skechers, sees the future of super shoes not necessarily tied to plates, but rather the development of supercritical foams that reduce weight while increasing resiliency. He says this will unlock even more opportunities in the trail and daily training categories with innovations eventually trickling into the mainstream models that comprise the bulk of running store sales. Since Nike introduced super shoes to the world in May 2017 with its ZoomX Vaporfly 4%, the run specialty marketplace has expanded, evolved and experimented with the category. Brands have poured time, innovation and energy into dialing up fresh solutions, crisscrossing use cases and carefully considering the runner. Innovation has carried the day and there is more – a lot more – to come in the super shoe realm. “Here’s the thing: people want to run fast and if there’s a shoe that will help them do that and feel good, that’s a win,” Puma’s Falker says. n

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FLEX APPEAL How Carbitex became a major behind-the-scenes player in footwear. / By Daniel P. Smith


lthough it is 6:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in Hong Kong, Junus Khan is wide awake and entertaining a series of questions with an unexpected enthusiasm, even a wonderfully philosophical bent. A decade ago, after two years of tinkering with carbon fiber in the garage of his Kennewick, WA, home, Khan launched Carbitex, a fast-emerging player in the footwear space given its pioneering work in flexible carbon fiber composites. The company’s handiwork is present in a variety of partnerships across the run specialty channel these days, including last fall’s release of the $375 Speedland SL:PDX as well as the recent debut of the Altra Vanish Carbon. But Khan and Carbitex are just getting started. “If this were a baseball game, we’d be at the top of the second inning right now,” Khan says. “And I think this is going to be a long game with extra innings.” Finding a Place In Performance Run Khan is an unlikely pioneer in the carbon fiber world. He graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Environmental and Business Economics, yet ditched a potential career in finance for a turn in the automotive industry — specifically, the supercar realm. It was there Khan learned about materials and discovered an opportunity to leverage carbon fiber’s benefits – namely, incredible strength at a low weight – in different consumer formats. Though carbon fiber as we know it today is a decades-old concoction, it is 12

Carbitex continues building its presence in the performance run space with a client roster that includes the likes of Adidas, Altra, Saucony and Scott.

a relative baby in the materials world, Khan notes. Early on, the military utilized carbon fiber for items like missiles, helmets and drones, while aerospace and automotive naturally embraced the sturdy, lightweight material for aircraft and race cars as well. Over recent years, however, the material has increasingly filtered into mainstream consumer use in bicycle frames, tennis rackets and, yes, performance running shoes. When Khan founded Carbitex in February 2012 after two years of mad scientist-like study, he initially crafted partnerships with companies in the luggage and consumer electronics space before deciding to focus his upstart company on footwear, where he saw a relevant market fit and robust opportunity

for technologies capable of heightening performance. “Running is like the Formula 1 of footwear,” Khan says. “It’s an industry invested in pushing barriers that much further.” When Nike’s Breaking 2 project introduced the carbon fiber-plated ZoomX Vaporfly 4% to the world in May 2017, Khan says “the cat came out of the bag.” It catalyzed many across the industry to launch – or intensify, in some cases – similar projects and Carbitex fielded many inquiries. Quickly, Khan noted two camps: those who wanted to replicate Nike and those who saw what the Swoosh did and thought they could do something different. Carbitex partnered with the latter.

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“I was excited by the opportunity to offer new dimensions of performance,” Khan says. Khan threw his fledgling company into the performance run waters, carefully analyzing how carbon fiber could play a role in helping “the body be a better version of itself.” Bolstered by an existing partnership with Adidas on soccer footwear, a Carbitex plate found its way into Adidas’ 2020 release of the Adizero Pro. Carbitex Evolves Over recent years, Carbitex’s efforts in the performance run space have only intensified. The 100-employee company works with partners early to understand the ethos of a proposed product. Is it for training or the marathon? The road or trail? Who’s the target customer? What’s the stack height and density of the foam? While careful not to get in the way of its partners, Carbitex provides input on trade-offs, noting, for example, that the feel of the shoe will vary based on where the plate is placed in the midsole or the shoe’s stack height. The typical development process runs 18-24 months and Khan says it’s a wholly collaborative process in which Carbitex is the “best supporting actor, not the marquee star.” While Khan calls carbon fiber the “obvious choice” for performance run footwear these days – “It matters in a noticeable way,” he assures. – he is also quick to acknowledge that it is only one component in a much larger system. The carbon fiber plate provides 13

Junus Khan founded Carbitex in early 2012. A decade later, the Washington-based brand’s innovative work in flexible carbon fiber composites is contributing to the exciting evolution of the super shoe category.

structural elements in the lightest way possible, working in conjunction with the innovative foams and uppers running brands are developing to increase efficiency and create a product that will deliver for athletes. “There’s never one material that overcomes poor design,” he says. “Take the carbon plate out of many super shoes and it would be a marshmallow – and not in a good way.” C a r bit ex, m e a nwh i le, continues doing aggressive exploration around the concept of gearing. While the AFX is the company’s original plate for footwear, Carbitex has also debuted the DFX, a next-generation plate based on orientation and angles that creates a more dynamic experience for users, and the AFX (Formed), which is stiff in one direction yet bends in the

other. The novel construction of the AFX (Formed) generates a responsive landing while allowing a natural toe-off. “With our technology, you can have something with range of motion and different stiffness at different points to align with the natural biomechanics of the body,” Khan says. Promising More Innovation Over the years, Khan says Carbitex has gotten better at dialing in the right solution given each project’s specific parameters. In its earliest days, Carbitex might create 50 different iterations of samples. These days, Khan says the company can produce unique versions within a day or two and often only needs two or three iterations to get close to a target and proof of concept. In the advanced composite age, carbon fiber now

sits at the tip of the spear and among the most readily available advanced materials. For the foreseeable future, Khan says it will remain just so, adding that no existing material can match the structure, weight and scalability of carbon fiber. Which isn’t to suggest Carbitex is done innovating. “Think about it, we’re still developing ways to use wood,” he says. Kahn assures Carbitex has more innovation in the pipeline, propelled by its own internal curiosity and biomechanics testing as well as third-party analysis and the ambitions of its footwear partners. He promises developments related to sustainability, unique geometries and different zones on the plates to further tunability. “We’re dialing things in better, but the brands are also getting a crisper understanding of their needs as well,” he says. In a general sense, Khan says the basic formula for carbon-plated super shoes has been established – a responsive foam combined with a plate for structure. There is, however, substantial runway to harness the stiffness of the plate only when needed and to define the right Carbitex solution in tandem with other components in a shoe’s overall system. And that’s what excites Khan these days. “It brings me back to a decade ago and the exploration that launched Carbitex in the first place,” he says. “Collectively, we know there’s so much more to be discovered.” n

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Running shoe price increases must be accompanied by targeted marketing and product development in 2022. / By Dirk Sorenson, Executive Director, Sports Industry Analyst, The NPD Group


he evolution of the running consumer during the pandemic, including the effects of working and spending more time at home, has invited more Americans to embrace outdoor fitness activities, which include hiking, walking and, of course, running. Gym closures and the desire for flexible, home-based fitness options might be impacting consumers’ needs for performance running shoes. This all has had a significant impact on the performance running shoe market. This market in the U.S. has enjoyed strong revenue growth over the past 12 months, according to retail sales data from The NPD Group. Sales reached $4.3 billion in the 12 months ending February 2022, with revenue up 21 percent, compared to the pre-pandemic year-ending February 2020, which indicates heightened interest for running shoes throughout the pandemic. Both road and trail running shoes contributed to this increase, with road running shoe sales up 21 percent and trail running shoes up 14 percent. While these sales figures support an optimistic view of the performance running shoe category in 2022, there is some room for caution and more careful planning. Much of this growth comes from price increases. In fact, the average selling price for a pair of performance running shoes increased by 21 percent in the 12 months ending February 2022, versus the two years prior. If these price increases had little impact on unit sales, this trend would be welcomed. After all, high prices deliver more margin dollars to both retailers and manufacturers. Unfortunately, the reality is that the price increase parallels a two percent market decline in unit sales. 14

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Balancing Act (continued)

These product mix trends can provide durable and positive changes in the running shoe industry. However, the market cannot overlook the broader concern that ongoing pricing increases ultimately run the risk of slowing interest in purchasing. Product mix changes, promotional activity and other factors are weighing on average selling prices, creating challenges and opportunities for manufacturers and retailers this year. Here are some prime examples of where the industry is winning on both price and unit sales: • Women’s road running shoes experienced the highest revenue and unit sales growth within the total running shoe market. The women’s road running shoe category also commands the highest average selling price of all running shoe categories and increased the most over the past two years. • The average price for 16

women’s road running shoes increased by 26 percent and, encouragingly, unit sales also grew by two percent. The fact that unit sales increased along with pricing increases points to a potentially healthy trend for the women’s running shoe category. • Another positive trend contributing to overall price increases has been rising sales of stability road running shoes. Sales revenue from these shoes, which carry the highest average selling price of any shoe style tracked by NPD, grew by 32 percent and unit sales grew by six percent. The Big Shoe Picture These product mix trends can provide durable and positive changes in the running shoe industry. However, the market cannot overlook the broader concern that ongoing pricing increases ultimately run the risk of slowing interest in purchasing. While on the surface there are many indications for a successful 2022, the industry can and should address two areas of improvement. First, the lack of running s h o e s a l e s g r ow t h b y consumers younger than 35-years-old, which is a key demographic to engage to assure the long-term health of the market. After all, these consumers will command enormous purchasing power in the coming years. They are now entering a life stage where new careers, new homes and building a family all challenge them to consider new habits and

engage in different activities. Carefully tailoring marketing messages and product design to appeal to an age cohort that prioritizes overall health and wellness, over racing and rigorous competition, could pay long-term dividends for the running shoe industry. As t he U. S. e conomy stabilizes, and as product inventories move from scarcity to a more normalized level, reviewing pricing and promotional strategies could yield long-term profit growth. The sporting goods industry has traditionally relied on standard promotional strategies that are based on the retail calendar. As the running shoe market navigates summer and fall of 2022, promotions may be particularly effective given the high prices and lack of

promotion that occurred in 2021. A well-designed promotional strategy given inventory levels and focused on maximizing margin dollars could increase store traffic and improve margin compared to past years, as consumers seek out value at retail in the latter half of the year. Ba la ncing consumers’ evolving desires with retailers’ and manufacturers’ ability to retain more profit is a true call-to-action for this industry. By combining some analytical firepower, engaging ripe consumers and leveraging the pockets of strong sales trends, the running shoe industry will be in a position to close 2022 with a win-win on higher prices coupled with increased demand. n

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Keep It Simple Run retailers need to speak in terms customers understand when selling shoes. / By Tom Griffen


ave you ever traveled to a destination where you don’t know the language? A place where the culture is utterly unlike your own? Where every spoken word is elusive and where a simple gesture – a wave, for example – may mean something unintended. If so, you had to develop strategies for successful communication. Maybe you used a language dictionary, elevated your speaking volume or made your body language more animated. Or maybe you drew crude caricatures on paper or in the dirt to convey your basic needs. All of these methods, and others, are common ways to get your point across. And frankly, they are part of what makes world travel so much fun. But what if you are in one of these places and you have an emergency? What if you don’t have the luxury of time to play these communication games? In this dire moment, what do you need more than anything? You need a translator! A helpful local who speaks both languages fluently and can navigate your plight with ease. The Local Guide In your run specialty store, you are this helpful local. You speak the strange language of running retail (you know how to actually say plantar fasciitis), and you know the ins and outs of the running culture. You have multiple opportunities each day to fulfill this role. To take entering customers under 18

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your wing and ensure them that you’ve got them. But the big question is, are you making it easy for them to get got? For as long as run specialty has been a thing, you, as a shoe fitter, have been the knowledge holders. You maintain a deep working knowledge about all things related to, among other things, footwear. Words and ter ms like midsole and vamp, durometer and drop, aptly roll off your tongue. You incorporate terms like heel counter, last, overlay and upper into your daily parlance and don’t miss a beat. Talking the Talk But make no mistake, these terms are only familiar to you. Very few customers truly know what any of these specialized words mean. So if you readily throw this language around, you are likely leaving your customers in the dust. And worse still, customers may also feel like they should know what you’re talking about, which makes them feel further left out. Neither reflects your intentions or proves to the customer that you’ve got them. This tendency applies to anatomy and biomechanics, too. Your definition of pronation, for example, is likely different from your customer’s understanding of it. You know this is true because customers often think a mobile arch is something innately problematic and undesirable — which, of 19

course, is a hasty generalization exploited by blogs and magazines. Certainly not a scientific rule. You and your staff will benefit from checking how you collectively use language, then looking for ways to simplify the jargon being taken for granted. Big words don’t make you smarter. And they definitely aren’t proof you know your stuff. Big words or unfamiliar concepts, generally speaking, simply make you hard to understand. Which sorta negates any claim to be customer-centric, doesn’t it? Here are five areas where you can ensure your language does not exclude your customers: 1. PRONATION AND SUPINATION Both of these terms refer to degrees of f lexibility. A foot that’s over-pronating could just as easily be deemed “more f lexible.” Same goes for a foot that’s under-pronating. It’s “less flexible.” The concept of flexibility is less likely to be judgmentally loaded or misunderstood. 2. VISUAL FOOT PATHOLOGY Calling a medial bump on the first MPJ a “bunion” is risky. That simple word, though 100 percent accurate, may be enough to trigger for the customer a self-conscious, fearful, or emba r rassing response. Instead, simply call it a “bump” and find out if it’s problematic. Sure, you know

what it is, but you’re keeping things neutral and less “diagnosed.” This strategy can be applied to most of the visual foot conditions we come across. 3. DROP Consider describing what you mean by “drop” rather than assuming the customer knows what it is. A statement like, “In this shoe, your heel is six millimeters higher than your toes,” leaves very little room for misunderstanding, and communicates what you mean by drop in the first place. 4. DUROMETER Reserve this word for your run specialty colleagues only. A word like “hardness” or “durability” likely communicates what you’re trying to say and does so in a way your customer will better understand. 5. ACRONYMS MPJ, ITBS, ROM and the like can all be renamed in simpler terms. Basic synonyms such as the toe joint, the outside of your thigh, how bendy that body part is, yadda yadda, all eliminate the possibility of taking over your customer’s head. Translating Shoe Speak Su rely you ca n come up with more examples of where you can translate local language into that of the customer. Challenge your team to make simplification one of their goals. A nd please — don’t m i s r e a d t h i s m e s s a ge.

Simplifying is not about knowing less. If anything, being a good translator requires you to know more. It’s much easier to explain a concept when you’ve achieved a certain level of expertise than it is trying to do so without.

Simplifying is not about knowing less. If anything, being a good translator requires you to know more. It’s much easier to explain a concept when you’ve achieved a certain level of expertise than it is trying to do so without. Go back to the fundamentals of what makes you so attractive to customers in the first place — your care and concern for them. Be the helpful local they need and make sure to translate their experience into the language they best understand — THEIRS. n © 2022 Diversified Communications

What’s Hot, What’s Next? Run retailers dish on their favorite new shoes and what’s next. / By Cregg Weinmann


ilmmaker Spike Lee created a character for a film, Mars Blackmon, who famously said in a Nike TV commercial, “It’s gotta be the shoes!” This, of course, comes as no surprise to the shoe fitters, footwear buyers and store owners of running specialty. They cater every day to a throng of runners who recognize the benefits of running shoes and acknowledge the expertise of this group of specialized experts, ensuring that the best equipment is paired with each runner. Conversations with key retailers put the focus on brands and styles that provide the performance that all runners are looking for. So we asked three key questions about the new crop of shoes that the major running brands are rolling out. All of the usual players are present and accounted for, but there were surprises as well — one in particular is Karhu, which has an exclusive deal with Fleet Feet, making it an attractive option for those stores, and return business from those runners who have had success with the brand. Further, recovery has revealed itself to be a category of interest to today’s runners and the savvy owners, buyers, and sales people have focused on its benefits to keep runners running. What are three new shoes that you are excited about? John Rogers, Fleet Feet Maine, Portland, ME In no particular order... • Brooks Glycerin 20 with the midsole integration of DNA Loft v 3 technology, elevates the Glycerin further from the 20

Diadora’s Equipe Atomo is Made in Italy and is on more than one retailer’s radar for 2022-23.

Ghost and performs really well. • On Running Cloud Monster elevates the CloudTec platform and should position On Running to make some noise in the Oversize Max Cushioning category. • Diadora Equipe Atomo, Made In Italy versus Asia, puts a premium price on the Max cushion category, but the shoe performs well with Diadora’s DD Anima Foam technology. I’m excited about these three shoes because they are all Max cushion shoes at 10 ounces or lighter and all have a smooth transition from initial ground contact to toe off. This should help the Max cushion category continue to grow, but with Max designed shoes that are quick, responsive and perform well. David ‘Boots’ Boutillier, Fleet Feet Rochester, Rochester, NY What excites me most will be whatever new shoe can arrive to my stores on time and complete. Saucony’s updated Endorphin line holds a lot of promise on what were already great models.

Kris Hartner, Naperville Running Company, Naperville, IL • Nike Next Nature — Using Zoom X foam and a high level of recycled content, without adding a price penalty. In fact it’s $20 less than the Peg Turbo, which is the slot it fills — impressive. • On Cloud Monster — We’ve been waiting (actually begging) for a Max cushion shoe from On and we think this could be the ticket. Such a strong and hot brand, with great fit, we just need a bottom unit that matches up with what our customers want most — plush, responsive cushioning. Kyle Brady, Footwear Buyer, Naperville Running Company • Brooks Glycerin 20 — Adding Nitroinfused foam that was used in the bottom unit of the Aurora is a great addition. • New Balance 880 and 1080 — Highly anticipated updates to two of our top-selling styles. The staff is excited for the freshening. • ASICS Cumulus 24 — Adding

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NOV 29 - DEC 1, 2022 Austin, TX

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What’s Hot (continued) sought after by consumers for their unique styling and Swiss engineering. ‘Boots’ Boutillier: Impact to my bottom line is number one. Karhu, Diadora and Hoka lead here for me. Impact of driving new customers in my doors is Hoka and On. Impact of creating energy in my communities — Hoka, Karhu, Diadora Chris Farley: Brooks leads the way in our space. Always looking at everything – and I mean everything – they do from a runner’s lens. Hoka has the most incredible rise in the history of our business. Bigger than what barefoot shoes did and Hoka has staying power.

Two up-and-comers: Birkenstock and Topo have caught retailers’ eyes.

forefoot Blast+ foam, which has been doing really well in the Nimbus 24 and 2000 v10. Chris Farley, Pacers Running, Arlington, VA Brooks Ghost 14 — The best-selling shoe in our space and it is now carbon neutral. Saucony Guide 15 — Lightest most cushioned Guide. Hoka Arahi 6 — Plush and supportive, the most “runnable Hoka” I’ve worn. Jake Crowe, Playmakers, Okemos, MI 22

Hoka Mach 5, Topo Ultrafly 4, Brooks Glycerin 20 Bob Coll, Eugene Running Company, Eugene, OR With our heavy Nike slant we’re introducing their Next Nature shoes this year and I have big expectations. Which brands do you see making the most impact currently? John Rogers: Brooks and Hoka represent about 58 percent of our footwear business. Hoka continues to be a highly

requested brand by consumers, either through the medical community or word of mouth. They are essentially tied for the number one position with Brooks and would be a clear number one without some of the supply chain issues that have affected them. Brooks continues to be a consistent choice with consumers as well. New Balance is a solid number three, as supply chain issues have hurt them the most. Altra has been our fastest-growing brand and On Running continues to be

W h i c h b r a n d s a r e yo u r up-and-comers? John Rogers: ASICS and Saucony seem to be having some resurgence due to product improvements that have our associates more confident with their brand. Altra, with the zero drop story, and our in house brand, Karhu. Finally, Birkenstock has been a nice addition within the recovery category with their clean distribution and support story differentiation. ‘Bo ot s’ Bout i l l ier: We finally brought in Topo, as I finally feel their best shoes are positioned where I need them to be – good plush ride, 5mm drop – and they are off to a great start and at strong margins. A 2 0 0 -yea r- old bra nd can be an up and comer, right? Birkenstock, if I can get momentum going, will

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be huge as it brings new customers to my stores or add-on sales that don’t cannibalize current offerings. Ch r is Fa rley: Sou ndrunning — a brand that produces best in the world track meets and now is producing apparel. The apparel is unique in that it is Athlete Sizing, not specifically men’s and women’s sizes. Deckers X Lab is a really interesting brand that is growing in our “comfort” footwear space. They have a founder (Jean Luc Diard, from Hoka) who has done it before and I wouldn’t doubt he could do it again. Jake Crowe: Up-and-comers that will grow the most precent for us this year — On and Topo. Kris Hartner: If this hits well, On will also fit into the up-and-comer category. Upping our commitment to recovery footwear with our Birkenstock Pop-Up Shop and Ooofos Shop-In-Shop.

Also hot in 2022 (from top): ASICS Gel-Nimbus 24, Nike Pegasus Turbo Next Nature, Brooks Glycerin 20


–––––––––––––––––––– The running shoe business continues to grow, as running is still one of the best fitness activities for overall health and fitness. The popularity of the Boston Marathon, as witnessed last month, did not lose a step post-pandemic, and that daily run that has maintained a level of sanity during COVID’s surges has enlisted a new crop of runners. It’s gotta be the shoes! n

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Sustainable Insight On Running dives into eco efforts and what they mean to run specialty.


veryone in run specialty talks about sustainability these days, but apparently there remains a knowledge gap with retailers on the subject, which creates a major opportunity for retailers to get into the sustainability game and connect with their customers. In fact, only six percent of stores say they offer training on the subject of sustainability. This compares with 35 percent that train on footwear; 31 percent on sports bras and apparel and 27 percent on electronics and fitness technology. Something needs to change. So last October, On Running contracted with SBRnet, a provider of data for the sports and active lifestyle market, to conduct an e-mail survey focused on Sustainability within the specialty running market. More than 750 store ownership groups representing 1100 stores and e-commerce outlets were contacted, with a total of 145 completed surveys. The results are illuminating, with the immediate finding that, according to the report, the Circle of Sustainability Starts with Realization and Education. Among the findings: • SUSTAINABILITY IS ABOUT MORE THAN JUST RECYCLING Retailers equate sustainability with recycling in one form or another. Store owners who own or manage races seem to be very concerned about the sustainability issues around the races, more so than their importance on their stores. Retailers responded best to a specific or a more tangible view of sustainability and fewer responded well to less tangible options. 24

• SUSTAINABILITY IS A PERSONAL ISSUE FOR STORES AND YOUNGER OWNERS Not surprisingly, data shows that younger store owners – those under the age of 45 – care more deeply about sustainability practices in their personal lives. Yet even they may not know how to translate those personal priorities into their business strategy. • PERFORMANCE WITH A PURPOSE IS A VIABLE OPTION Retailers now believe sustainable products are also a viable performance option. This spans both footwear and apparel and

retailers believe that it is possible to make high-performance footwear and apparel using recycled materials and adhering to the highest standards of sustainability. But they also believe that brands need to find a way to get their sustainability messaging to consumers on their own and not depend on the retailers to do it. THE HUMAN TOUCH IS IMPORTANT In a business where community is so valued, stores look to company representatives for education on sustainability and in turn want their employees on the forefront of educating consumers. n

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A State of Mind

An ambitious ASICS study reveals the impact of running and exercise on a person’s well-being. The study also interestingly found that while people perceive 30 minutes as the minimum amount of exercise required to experience the uplifting impact of movement, the research indicates that just 15 minutes and nine seconds of movement is all it can take to begin feeling the mood-boosting effects.


ome on, it only takes 15 minutes of exercise – any kind of exercise, whether it’s running, walking or working out – for a better state of mind. Fifteen minutes and nine seconds, to be exact, according to the results of ASICS’ inaugural global State of Mind Index. The bottom line: There is an undeniable and direct positive link between exercise and mental health. Unfortunately, the study also uncovered the worrying potential impact of lower levels of activity in younger generations. The global study, which tracked the mental state of 37,000 people from 16 countries, found that people who move the most have a higher of what ASICS labels a “State of Mind” score. Active individuals have an average State of Mind score of 68/100, in relation to just 56/100 for those that are inactive. Among the other findings: • There are dramatic differences in physical activity between generations, with older generations (those aged 25

57-plus) moving almost one hour (53 minutes) more on average than Gen Z across the span of a week. This in turn is shown to have a big impact on each group’s collective State of Mind score. • The study found that 54 percent of the global older population is active and feels uplifting benefits, reporting an average State of Mind score of 67/100. In contrast, just 45 percent of the global Gen Z (aged 18-24) population are currently active and, as a result, have a considerably lower average State of Mind score than their older counterparts of 59/100. • The local data for the U.S. also showed a positive link between movement and mental health, with active individuals on average scoring 65/100 in relation to just 50/100 for non-active individuals. It was also consistent with global data in revealing the older generation is more active and has a higher State of Mind score (55 percent active with average SOM score of 67/100) compared with those in Gen Z (just 45 percent active with average SOM score of 49/100).

The 15-Minute Effect “There is a common perception that you need to move for a long time to experience the uplifting benefit,” explains Dr. Brendon Stubbs, an exercise and mental health researcher from King’s College London who led the study. “However, our new research indicates this is not the case — just over 15 minutes of movement is actually all it can take to experience the positive impact.” Adds Tomoko Koda, managing executive officer and senior GM–marketing at ASICS: “It has long been our belief that sport has the power to uplift both an individual and the world like nothing else. While the results of our global State of Mind Index indicate just how intrinsic the link between regular movement and positive mental well-being is, they also show the potential impact a small amount of movement could have in raising the world’s collective State of Mind.” As a result, ASICS has issued a 15:09 Challenge, which calls on people to move and in doing so experience the all-important benefits first-hand. To recognize the unique findings of the ASICS Uplift Study, ASICS will host a 15:09 Uplift Challenge throughout the month of June. It will be led by brand ambassadors around the world, including Deena Kastor in the U.S. n

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THE 2022


As 2022 hits its mid-point, Running Insight surveyed run specialty’s major footwear vendors to gather insight into what the second half of the year will look like on shoe walls across America. We asked each brand for a “focus shoe” that best defines their running lineup for late 2022 as well as some “Shoe Insight” to tease what’s coming down the road in the early months of 2023. While run retailers surely have some of these footwear models ordered for Fall 2022, we suspect many of the models featured in these next pages will stir some intrigue and warrant further investigation. Run on!

361 Focus Shoe: Spire 5 The Shoe: Ultimate cushioning remains at the forefront of its pinnacle high-performance Spire 5 neutral high mileage trainer. With a modern and sleek design coupled with Qu!kflame midsole foam technology, this duo delivers a blend of comfort, rebound and durability. It also features a new simplistic modern upper design with a progressive new 3D logo iteration on the quarter panel. MSRP: $160 Shoe Insight: “The Introduction of the Spire 5 is the first peek at our new design philosophy going forward. We will be introducing a new shoe in the $130 price point named the 361 Centauri. It shares our new Foam DNA from the Flame and the Spire 5 and is built on a new platform and last. 2023 will be a transitional year as we bring our classic models forward from a design and functionality standpoint.” – Rolando Garcia, marketing/e-commerce for the Americas


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2022 Running Shoe Guide

ADIDAS Focus Shoe: Terrex Agravic Pro The Shoe: The Terrex Agravic Pro trail running shoe is made with the planet and rough, technical terrain in mind. The Boa Fit System provides a microadjustable, precision fit and on-the-fly tightening so runners can adapt to changes in terrain and stay on the trail. The shoe upper, made in part with Parley Ocean Plastic, features Boa’s PerformFit Wrap for a connected fit that improves running efficiency and reduces landing impact. Designed for dynamic, lightweight movements across wet and dry conditions, the Agravic Pro features a light Lightstrike midsole and Continental Rubber outsole. MSRP: $220 Shoe Insight: Working with the Adidas Terrex team, we designed the tripanel PerformFit Wrap featured on the Agravic Pro to provide trail athletes with a measurable reduction in landing impact and improvement in agility. With Boa’s micro-adjustability, runners can unlock a superior fit and closer connection to the trail.” — Dan Feeney, PhD., Director of Biomechanics Research & Performance Fit Lab, Boa Technology

ALLBIRDS Focus Shoe: Trail Runner The Shoe: Allbirds Trail Runner is made for trail running and hiking while still being great for everyday wear. Made using Allbirds’s sugar, wool and tree materials, it’s breathable and offers cushioning for rebound. The style works in all different terrains and its rugged outsole fit with lugs helps with grip while on the trails. MSRP: $140


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2022 Running Shoe Guide

ALTRA Focus Shoe: Outroad The Shoe: The 2022 Outroad provides the step-in feel of a road shoe with the visual cues and confidence of a trail shoe — it’s Altra’s first runner that can do both. Designed with Altra’s Ego midsole foam for a responsive ride, Balanced Cushioning platform to position the heel and forefoot at an equal distance from the ground and grippy MaxTrac outsole to provide traction for any terrain. MSRP: $140 Shoe Insight: “For 2022/23 Altra will be releasing two exclusive colorways for the Outroad designed by Altra Elite Athlete, Alexi Pappas.” — Shanna Burnette, Community and Partnerships Manager

ASICS Focus Shoe: MetaSpeed Sky+ The Shoe: Building on the breakthrough success of the Metaspeed running shoes introduced in 2021, ASICS has utilized data accumulated through elite athletes in competitions to refine the product design and make runners with different running styles even faster. The MetaSpeed Sky+ running shoe has four percent more FF Blast Turbo compared to the first generation. Carbon placements plus the mild toe spring curve are higher than the first generation due to the fact that stride style runners have a stronger downward push during toe-off and therefore this higher plate placement allows them to compress more volume of foam to gain a higher bounce. The plate is placed higher for MetaSpeed Sky+ to distribute the force more evenly across the entire width of the shoe to increase the volumetric amount of foam and a get higher bounce-back. MSRP: $250


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2022 Running Shoe Guide

BROOKS RUNNING Focus Shoe: Glycerin 20 The Shoe: The Glycerin 20 offers runners the ability to customize their experience with multiple support and fit options, including Glycerin 20, Glycerin GTS 20, Glycerin StealthFit 20 and Glycerin StealthFit GTS. In addition, Brooks infused the midsole of each style with DNA LOFT v3 – its nitrogen-infusion technology originally introduced in the limited-edition Aurora-BL – for added cushioning. MSRP: $160 Shoe Insight: “At the BlueLine Lab, we are working closely with our Chief Running Advisor – Des Linden – the Brooks Beasts and the Hansons-Brooks athletes to uncover insights and build the fastest racing product for race day. Stay tuned for new track spikes to be available for the 2023 Indoor Track season and some other surprises on and off the track.” — Nikhil Jain, Senior Manager, Product Line Management–BlueLine “Brooks will expand our Speed line, building on the tech and features of the Hyperion Tempo. Get ready for more of our ultralight, responsive DNA Flash in the Speed line in 2023.” — Chelsea Orr, Product Line Manager–Footwear

CRAFT Focus Shoe: CTM Ultra Carbon Trail The Shoe: The CTM Ultra Carbon Trail is designed for ultra-distance running while meeting the needs of the trail, combining Ud foam with a tuned carbon plate along with a Vibram Megagrip traction outsole that will help runners achieve speed and agility on harsh terrains. MSRP: $259.99 Shoe Insight: “We will build off of our existing road collection with more trail offerings in FW22/23. Our overall platform will remain the same, but will include advancements in foam technology.” — Jon Howard, Director of Consumer Sales and Marketing


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2022 Running Shoe Guide

DIADORA Focus Shoe: Atomo V7000 The Shoe: The Atomo V7000, available in the fourth quarter, will be a revival of the V7000, a modern, made-in-Italy take on this cherished running model. The Atomo V7000 blends Diadora’s heritage with a new midsole compound and technology designed to catch runners’ eyes. Shoe Insight: “Diadora is staying consistent with the brand’s principles to stay specialty-focused and the channel’s commitment stays unchanged with added reinforcements in rep count and added support for our partners. Retailers will find our SKU count increasing marginally in 2023 and will see a new segment unveiled in the fall. Ultimately, product innovation will be the driver in 2023 and elevated community partnerships.” — Bryan Poerner, USA Country Manager

HOKA Focus Shoe: Tecton X The Shoe: The Tecton X is made with two carbon plates that run parallel and lengthwise up and down the shoe, working independently to allow runners to more dynamically interface with all of the ups and downs that the trail throws at it, moving laterally and adapting to the changes more readily. That plate is then sandwiched between two new Hoka foams — one designed to be comfortable and the other to be foamy, one on top for a seamless step-in feel and one superresponsive one beneath to propel runners through their gait. MSRP: $200 Shoe Insight: “Our product team has been hard at work creating many exciting new products that will be unveiled in 2023, as well as on some updates to popular Hoka styles. Hoka will deliver highperforming products that will allow athletes who are just beginning their running journey and core runners alike to get to the starting line confidently. Look for Hoka to continue offering thoughtful and strategic brand extensions, as we look to bring new consumers into the brand.” — Chris Cohen, VP–U.S. Sales


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2022 Running Shoe Guide

INOV-8 Focus Shoe: Parkclaw G 280 The Shoe: Its first road-to-trail running shoe, the ParkClaw G 280 features infused Graphene in the rubber outsole and foam cushioned midsole for grip and greater bounce. The ParkClaw G 280’s G-Grip outsole includes 98 rubber cleats per shoe and the G-Fly foam midsole, combined with a raised 8mm drop, propels 25 percent more energy return for a fast-feel stride with enhanced cushioning. Graphene imparts its strength to ensure the rubber and foam retain their power longer, prolonging the shoe’s life. The light, breathable engineered mesh upper offers comfort, while the Boomerang footbed delivers bounce. MSRP: $180 Shoe Insight: “This shoe is all about giving runners adventure from their door, allowing them to turn off the road, escape the grey and unearth their inner wild side.” — Wayne Edy, Founder

LA SPORTIVA Focus Shoe: Cyklone Cross GTX The Shoe: Designed to tackle technical terrain and snowy trails, the Cyklone Cross GTX is a fully waterproof shoe that allows runners to venture into extreme environments. Featuring a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane, vegan materials and an abrasion-resistant gaiter, this shoe will keep feet warm and protected on the coldest of runs. A Boa fit system allows for quick adjustments, while the Frixion XF 2.0 outsole offers grip on all types of terrain. The compression molded EVA midsole is lightweight, responsive and has co-molded medial/lateral stabilizing inserts that give runners more control in variable terrain. MSRP: $229 Shoe Insight: Coming in 2023, the Jackal is a well-cushioned shoe with a spacious toe box designed for ultra-distances. The toe box uses PU inserts in the midsole that increase responsiveness, stability and durability. The Frixion outsole provides grip on a variety of surfaces. The fit is improved and the shoe uses much lighter weight materials, allowing it to come in 40 grams lighter than the first version. The heel has more padding in this iteration and the mesh that is used is significantly thinner.


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2022 Running Shoe Guide

MERRELL Focus Shoe: MTL Long Sky 2 The Shoe: The MTL Long Sky 2 has a Vibram MegaGrip for traction and durability on wet or dry surfaces. Made with quick-dry technology and construction and a mesh and TPU upper, the shoe also features a FloatPro Foam midsole for a lightweight ride. The EVA foam insole has a 100 percent recycled top sheet resulting in 30 percent lower water retention versus the previous generation Long Sky. MSRP: $140 Shoe Insight: In 2023, Merrell will expand our MTL line, broadening the brand’s trail running footwear collection with focused innovation to support elite athletes, including vertical trail technology for sky runners.” — Jon Sanregret, Performance Product Line Manager “The Merrell Test Lab never rests. In 2023, we will share the next evolution of trail running shoes for the elite athlete. We’ve continued to evolve the MTL collection with innovative technologies and performance athlete insights to expand the line.” — Nate Buelow, Sr. Performance Marketing Manager

“MTL is a collection designed in partnership between Merrell’s top performance designers and elite athletes the world over. Next year we’ll launch even more options within the line, with tailoring specific to varying trail categories.” — Ben Stark, Sr. Trail Run Marketing Specialist

MIZUNO Focus Shoe: Neo Project The Shoe: Mizuno’s Neo Project will feature two shoes that focus on performance meeting sustainability. Its goal with this project is to feature new technologies and advancements in sustainability that the brand can take down later to its core four shoes. MSRP: Both models will be around $200 Shoe Insight: “We will have two focuses for SS23 — expanding our performance lineup and working on women’s-specific collaborations. Our performance expansion will also have a fantastic head-to-toe story.” — Timothy Urbine, Director of Running


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2022 Running Shoe Guide

NEW BALANCE Focus Shoe: FuelCell SuperComp Pacer The Shoe: A single layer engineered mesh provides a blend of lightweight breathability and performance dependability in the FuelCell SuperComp Pacer, a go-to racing shoe for road distances from 5K–13.1. It offers the benefits of a FuelCell midsole paired with Energy Arc, all in lightweight package. A cambered carbon fiber plate is sandwiched within a two-layer FuelCell midsole. A void is carved out underfoot to allow for maximum displacement of the cambered plate. MSRP: $150

NIKE Focus Shoe: Pegasus Turbo Next Nature The Shoe: The Pegasus Turbo Next Nature was designed with sustainability in mind and is a return from the model that was last released in 2019. The first Pegasus Turbo was born out of a key finding from the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% — leaving out the carbon fiber plate while retaining the Nike ZoomX foam in the midsole was effective for a system based around daily training. The Pegasus Turbo offers the same fit and feel as the Pegasus with a Turbo engine. Made with 55 percent ZoomX scrap for the insole, the new Pegasus uses waste from shoes Nike has made before, plus recycled materials in the laces and lining. MSRP: $150 Shoe Insight: “Nike is doubling down on its impact on People, Planet and Play. We plan to reduce carbon emissions by 70 percent in owned or operated facilities through 100 percent renewable electricity and fleet electrification. We aim to see zero percent greenhouse gas emissions from key suppliers’ manufacturing and transportation operations, through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency and alternative fuels. This also includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions by increasing our use of 33

environmentally preferred materials to 50 percent of all key materials — polyester, cotton, leather and rubber. On top of that, we are going to invest two percent of prior year’s pre-tax income to drive positive impact in our communities annually.” — Scott Gravatt, National Sales Director

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2022 Running Shoe Guide

ON RUNNING Focus Shoe: Cloudrunner The Shoe: The Cloudrunner takes the impact out of asphalt with CloudTec cushioning in Zero-Gravity foam. Absorbing both vertical and horizontal forces every strike, runners can feel supported by a wider bottom unit and a cradle-shaped construction every step of the running journey. The engineered mesh upper of the Cloudrunner lets the feet breathe. MSRP: $139.99

PUMA Focus Shoe: Deviate Nitro 2 The Shoe: The Deviate Nitro 2 offers cushion and efficiency for everyday running. Made with an improved fit with more responsiveness, Deviate 2 is designed for propulsion during long runs. It’s a refresh on the technology with a redesigned PWRPlate, better-fitting upper and new midsole incorporating Nitro Elite into an everyday trainer tempo shoe. MSRP: $160 Shoe Insight: “Puma is continuing our investment in training shoes that runners wear every day with the Foreverun (MSRP: $160) Healthy Running Concept Shoe. It offers a design engineered to promote a natural running motion keeping you running healthier, longer.” — Todd Falker, Senior Product Line Manager, Running Footwear


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2022 Running Shoe Guide

REEBOK Focus Shoe: Floatride Energy 4 Adventure The Shoe: The Floatride Energy 4 Adventure, new for FW22, features an adventure-ready outsole that delivers grip and protection to take runners from the road to the tail. The shoe is made with recycled plastic ripstop upper materials to provide durability and a secure fit. MSRP: $120 Shoe Insight: “We’re continuing to focus on creating best-in-class offerings for a variety of runners at an accessible price point. We believe that if you run, you’re a runner. Whether you’re running one mile or 100 miles a week, we’re committed to creating innovative products that improve every wearer’s running journey.” — Keith Stern, Senior Product Manager, Running Footwear

SALOMON Focus Shoe: Glide Max The Shoe: A featherlight, ultra-cushioned road running shoe, the Glide Max combines an elevated stack height and a responsive foam for a plush stride. The rocker geometry midsole provides a smooth and quick transition. MSRP: $150 Shoe Insight: “In Spring/Summer 2023 you can expect a major season for Salomon road running. We’ll carry over our 2022 launched speed products with Energy Blade Technology, but the bigger focus will be on the expansion of our everyday run collection with more offerings for runners looking for no compromise on cushion, fit and an enjoyable running experience.” — Erin Cooper, Senior Marketing Manager, Run & Outdoor 35

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2022 Running Shoe Guide

SAUCONY Focus Shoe: Tempus The Shoe: The Tempus is built on a superfoam fueled guidance system designed to help runners achieve max energy return from a core of PWRRUN PB cushioning, while a contoured PWRRUN Frame supports and propels runners to a snappy takeoff. MSRP: $160 Shoe Insight: “In 2023 we will continue to lead through innovation, applying learnings from our Endorphin franchise to more areas within the Saucony line with the goal of providing solutions that are lighter weight and make running more enjoyable for athletes of all levels. We have a new style coming out that will feature the highest performance of any Saucony style to date, but we’ve significantly improved the performance flagship franchises like Triumph, Ride, Guide and Kinvara by making them lighter and more responsive than ever.” — Brian Moore, Senior VP–Global Product

SCARPA Focus Shoe: Golden Gate ATR The Shoe: The Golden Gate ATR GTX features Gore-Tex Invisible Fit, offering protection from the elements while ensuring a comfortable, breathable fit and feel. Scarpa’s most cushioned shoe to date, the ATR has improved impact absorption capabilities due to its iRespond Midsole System, designed to absorb and return energy efficiently. The Presa outsole with SuperGum rubber ensures traction both on and off road, inspiring confidence as runners expand their running horizons. MSRP: $179 Shoe Insight: “One of the key initiatives includes the goal of becoming a Certified B Corporation by 2022, a lengthy process that Scarpa has been working toward over the last two years. Living in and for the mountains, we’ve spontaneously developed a culture of respect for the environment and now we want to give this a clearer structure so that our values can become a concrete, effective contribution to safeguarding nature and the well-being of society.” — Sandro Parisotto, President


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2022 Running Shoe Guide

SCOTT Focus Shoe: Supertrac 3 The Shoe: Supertrac 3 is a mountain performance shoe with All Terrain Traction to handle everything from the muddiest valley floor to rocky mountain ridges. Featuring a nylon ripstop upper to add higher levels of durability to its collection. MSRP: $140 Shoe Insight: “We are always striving to develop the most advanced footwear equipment solutions for our athletes and customers alike to help them realize their goals from race day to mountain adventures. As we learn and evolve the use of dynamic carbon plates in our road shoes to help runners move more efficiently it is clear this technology can have effective applications when married with our traction solutions for trail and ultra runners. Bringing together the knowledge we have with these two technologies will allow for some very exciting footwear developments into 2023 and beyond.” — Peter Cable, Running Product Manager

TECNICA Focus Shoe: Magma S Mid GTX The Shoe: New for Spring/Summer ’22, the Magma S Mid GTX is a versatile, lightweight mid-cut hiker, designed for those who prefer a quick pace on the trail but also require steady grip for technical rocky scrambles.One of the lightest multi-functional boots on the market, it is as stable, grippy and durable as a sturdy hiking boot, but its materials and construction make it fast and versatile like a trail runner. The anatomically shaped last more closely matches the shape of the foot, delivering a precise fit out of the box that can be even more dialed in with the integrated lacing system. The mid-cut boot features a synthetic upper with a Gore-Tex liner for a combination of waterproof/breathable protection. MSRP: $190


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2022 Running Shoe Guide

TOPO Focus Shoe: Ultrafly 4 The Shoe: The Ultrafly 4 reintroduces a version of one of its most popular styles. Now offering more comfort and more sustainable materials, the sleek and comfortable upper features a recycled engineered mesh and a roomy toe box. The ZipFoam midsole delivers lightweight resilience and response, while an external TPU heel counter and EVA medial post offer light guidance. . MSRP: $135 Shoe Insight: For Spring ’23 Topo Athletic will continue to strengthen its positioning in trail, performance running and recovery footwear with franchise product updates and a couple of new designs. Some of the highlights include a new speed/tempo trainer that builds on what we started with our new Specter (currently scheduled for a June ’22 launch). We’re also excited to introduce a complete update to the Ultraventure series trail shoe built on a new platform and featuring a lighter yet rugged new Vibram outsole.

In Recovery, we’ll launch a slip-on design that serves as a companion to Rekovr 2. We’ll continue to utilize and introduce more recycled and sustainable materials in all of our designs, continually building on an initiative we started several years ago.” — Russ Stevens, Product Manager

UNDER ARMOUR Focus Shoe: Hovr Phantom 3 The Shoe: The Hovr Phantom 3 launches in July and is made with a full-length Hovr midsole for cushioning and energy return. Featuring an Intelliknit and Flatknit upper to allow for increased breathability, it comes with a plush heel, locked-in midfoot and flexible forefoot plus Speedform 2.0 molded quarter and heel for a pillowy fit. (Pictured here is the Phantom 3’s predecessor, the Phantom 2, which launched in July 2020.) MSRP: $140 Shoe Insight: “2023 is the continuation of the path Under Armour has been on in staying close to the runner in every step of their journey. From our continued insights and staying close to the athlete (often times virtually) throughout the pandemic, we’ve found that their need for an expanded range of product solutions has only grown. This insight has led us to a quiver of solutions in terms of climate, terrain and overall experience for the focused performer in 2023.” — Douglas Smiley, Senior Global Product Line Manager for Performance Run


© 2022 Diversified Communications

2022 Running Shoe Guide

VEJA Focus Shoe: Marlin The Shoe: The Marlin running shoe combines performance with bio-based, and recycled materials. It is a light and dynamic shoe for when runners have performance in mind. It is 60 percent bio-based and recycled. MSRP: $185

VJ SHOES Focus Shoe: XTRM 2 The Shoe: The XTRM 2 is a new edition its trail shoe line, offering grip, durability and fit. This Bluesign-approved shoe offers better fit with an expanded toe box and increased durability with a Schoeller Keprotec Upper, all while being lightweight at 250g for UK8. MSRP: $170 Shoe Insight: “For 2023 VJ is expanding to an adjacent sub-category where grip, durability and fit are just as important as the performance running category.” — Matt Gorski, VJ North America


© 2022 Diversified Communications

2022 Running Shoe Guide

WOOLLOOMOOLOO SHOE Focus Shoe: Belmont The Shoe: Together with the elastic laces and lightweight outsole, the company’s best seller, specifically in the colors ice and black, features wool-lined insoles and heathered Merino uppers. The Belmont is a classic that takes athleisure to a new comfort zone. MSRP: $150 Shoe Insight: “Coming soon, the Fraser features all-terrain recycled outsoles that provide flexibility and grip. The Fraser is built for those who find themselves sometimes off the beaten track.” — James Rowley, CEO/Co-Founder

XELERO Focus Shoe: Steadfast The Shoe: For Fall 2022 the men’s Steadfast in Carbon Grey is designed with stability and cushioning in mind to create a running shoe with a dynamic forward motion. Intended to help runners stay on their feet longer with less pain. MSRP: $199.99 Shoe Insight: “For Spring 2023 we will introduce Steadfast Lite. We have been asked by runners who trained in our shoes to help them get past overuse injuries and to produce a lighter weight shoe with Xelero Technology, so they can hopefully prevent future injuries while running longer distances.” — Dan Werremeyer, CEO


© 2022 Diversified Communications

2022 Running Shoe Guide

XERO SHOES Focus Shoe: Mesa Trail WP The Shoe: The Mesa Trail WP is a fully waterproof update to its best-selling trail runner, featuring a gusseted tongue, seam-sealed inner booty and XeroTex waterproof membrane. Lugged soles and an adjustable midfoot and instep straps keep runners secure and stable. It comes in both bold and natural colors for men and women. MSRP: $160 Shoe Insight: “Xero Shoes is launching nine casual and performance products in Spring 2023, including a technical hiking boot with unprecedented lightness, flexibility and grip. We’re also expanding our casual line for customers looking for active recovery and all-day comfort. Plus, we’re updating our running, trail, hiking and casual shoes, boots and sandals. In short, we’ll be providing more ways for people’s feet to feel as good at the end of the day as they did at the beginning and Live Life Feet First.” — Bryan Kimbell, Director of Marketing

Nov. 29 – Dec. 1, 2022 Austin Convention Center / Austin, TX


© 2022 Diversified Communications

Running Insight worked with the Running Industry Association (RIA) on this special section and supports the Association and its efforts to bring the run specialty industry together at Runchella.


Runchella Arrives Running Industry Association’s Chicago event bringing run specialty together. ON BEHALF OF THE TEAM AT THE Running Industry Association (RIA), we would like to extend a warm welcome to our members and special guests who will be joining us this month in Chicago at Runchella 2022. If the cyclical nature of the run specialty channel has taught us anything, it’s that when down cycles occur, invest in your business. And when business is going great – as it has for the past 20 months – invest even more. Our members have done just that and so too will the RIA by putting on this member summit. Make no mistake, holding any type of event in today’s market is an expensive and risky undertaking. But our members believe in what we’re offering, so much so that Runchella sold out a full two months prior to opening night. We’re absolutely thrilled at the confidence our members are placing in us and we’ve got an ambitious schedule planned. In the spirit of the RIA mission, Runchella is packed with programming


designed to elevate our member businesses through education, insight and collaboration. Store buyers will put their skills to the test in workshop environments, store marketers will get a primer on cutting edge digital tools, owners will meet with brand executives in peer sharing groups and the top brands in the channel will offer business updates and seasonal line presentations. In addition we will launch RIA Mastermind Groups. So buckle up, it’s going to be a busy few days! Runchella 2022 would not be possible without the support of our brand members and retailers who have committed their time and money in support of the event. To those members, we want to extend a heartfelt thank you. Our goal is to return the favor with a Member Summit that helps elevate our channel to even higher levels of success. We look forward to hosting you all for a compelling and valuable time in Chicago. See you there! Ross Martinson - RIA President - Philadelphia Runner Terry Schalow - RIA Executive Director

© 2022 Diversified Communications

Get Smarter

Runchella promises to deliver plenty of learning opportunities.

THROUGH A DIVERSE COLLECTION OF HANDS-ON educational programs rooted in data and peer sharing, Runchella 2022 looks to create more connected, informed and strategic running store leaders. Covering key management topics such as buying, marketing, staffing and the customer experience, Runchella’s slate of educational programming is designed to inform and inspire run shop leaders to operate sharper, stronger retail stores. The inaugural Mastermind group meeting Parker Karnan, the seasoned industry insider who heads Karnan Associates, will direct the first meeting of the RIA’s Mastermind group. A collective of 10-20 running retailers, Mastermind groups are collaborative, peer-led groups using data and experience to facilitate action and change. “Mastermind groups are about group problem solving and retailers helping othes grow and prosper,” Karnan says. In the inaugural 3.5-hour Mastermind meeting at Runchella 2022, Karnan will use key industry benchmarks provided by Upper Quadrant to accelerate discussions around training, the customer experience and strategies for growth. “So often retailers don’t know what good looks like, so we’re going to break that glass fishbowl and learn from each other,” Karnan says, adding that this first Mastermind gathering will lay the foundation for additional Mastermind groups under the RIA banner. Karnan hopes Mastermind participants walk away with deeper peer relationships and a richer understanding of where their business is and how it might improve in performance-driving areas such as training, marketing, staffing and inventory management. “It’s one thing for a vendor, spouse or


“Today’s run shops are having unprecedented success, but in a competitive environment and an uncertain economy they need to use every tool at their disposal,” Running Industry Association (RIA) executive director Terry Schalow says. “Accordingly, the programming at Runchella features industry-specific resources and expertise intended to help retailers continue to flourish.” Runchella’s educational programming headliners include:

business partner to tell them something, but I find run shop owners and leaders grow best when they are being challenged and consulted by their peers who live a shared business experience,” Karnan says.

heighten both brand awareness and sales. The program will also include expert insights from the Running Industry Diversity Council on bringing authenticity to marketing efforts.

A workshop on leveraging data to fuel marketing Upper Quadrant marketing gurus Lauren Edmondson and Melissa Meyers will lead a hands-on session devoted to transforming available data from POS systems into more intentional marketing. Titled “Turn Your Data into Dollars: Creating Intuitive, Data-Driven Marketing Strategies,” the 3.5-hour session will review data points such as insole-to-shoe ratio and the different ways retailers might leverage those numbers to propel performance. “Running retailers have plenty of data on hand, but what are they doing with that information?” asks Edmondson, Upper Quadrant’s director of email marketing. “We’ll be working to help retailers understand how they can take the data they already have and use it to be more intentional and targeted with their messaging.” By leveraging specific data points, Edmondson says run shops can develop targeted email and digital campaigns with clear goals and position themselves to

A primer on more strategic buying At last year’s Runchella, Athletic Annex co-owner Justin Porter directed an “Intro to Buying” course, a comprehensive, eighthour session covering the nuts-and-bolts of run specialty store purchasing. At Runchella 2022, Porter, who oversees buying at the two-store Athletic Annex chain based in Indianapolis, again brings inventory purchasing and management to the forefront. Porter’s working session will include an overview of inventory trends in the run specialty channel alongside roundtable discussions about inventory planning. “We want retailers to be able to carve through problems and plan out the future,” Porter says. “With thousands of SKUs, how do you get into the weeds and execute in a way that’s beneficial for your store?” The session will include a forecast of buying trends as well as discussions around how to buy with merchandising in mind. “We want to foster a new, more strategic approach to buying that benefits retailers and positions them for success,” Porter says.

© 2022 Diversified Communications

Retail Reasons

Three run specialty store leaders prepare to make the most of Runchella 2022.

AS MANY IN THE RUN SPECIALTY INDUSTRY PREPARE to head to Runchella this month, Running Insight reached out to three retailers to find out just what they are looking to accomplish during their time in Chicago. The Retailer: Andrea Lehmkuhler, co-owner of Point Two Running Company (Chesapeake and Newport News, VA) Reason for attending Runchella: “It’s a chance to surround myself with like-minded people who understand the highs and lows of our industry and who are looking for ways to grow and improve the channel.” Looking Forward To: Discovering new and up-and-coming brands, while also getting one-onone time with the latest brands incorporated into the Point Two showroom. “There are brands I’ve added into the store over the last two years whom I’ve never met face to face.” Eager to Discuss: Buying and selling apparel, staff education Hoping To: Leave with different ideas to move Point Two forward and position it for continued success. “It’s a prime time to invest in employees and figure out the next steps for our business, whether that’s expanding our assortment or digging into metrics that can inform decision making.” The Retailer: Nick Kovaleski, director of operations at A Runner’s Mind (three stores in California’s Bay Area) Reason for attending Runchella: The opportunity to have open conversations with brands allows our leadership to better plot its business operations for the months ahead. Looking Forward To: Promoting sustainability in the run specialty industry. “I joined the Low Impact Alliance after meeting Christian [Fyfe] and Keri [Straughn] from Palmetto Running Company at TRE and I want to bring attention to this effort at Runchella and help it build more momentum.” Eager to Discuss: Hiring, retention and team building as well as resuming events, including how run shops have incorporated virtual events into their business Hoping To: Get honesty and transparency from brands about supply chain issues and what’s happening in their business so A Runner’s Mind and its vendors can collaborate. The Retailer: Kyle Brady, director of retail at Naperville Running Company (four stores in Chicago’s western suburbs) Reason for attending Runchella: “In today’s age, human interaction is important and we’ve all spent too much time on Zoom of late. Runchella puts a heavy emphasis on connecting with other retailers and peer sharing. And since it’s here in Chicago, it’s an opportunity for us to get more staff there and allow them to see a different side of the industry.” Looking Forward To: Learning what other retailers are doing to hire and retain employees. “How can we set ourselves apart so people want to stay here?” Eager to Discuss: Supply chain issues with vendors, including the outlook for the coming months. Hoping To: Get face time with vendors, especially some brand leaders, and gain inspiration and ideas to drive results at Naperville Running Company.


© 2022 Diversified Communications

Special Times

Special events and peer-to-peer networking make Runchella a must-attend event. Introducing RIA Mastermind Groups – Leveraging Peer Wisdom With technology driving the speed of information and business, independent small business owners in the run specialty channel are doing their very best to keep up and thrive. RIA’s new Mastermind Groups, which will officially launch at Runchella this month, were born out of this need for industry collaboration and innovation. These data-driven, professionally facilitated groups leverage peer wisdom as well as data – RIA’s Weekly Snapshots powered by Upper Quadrant Cadence – to help specialty run store owners solve key challenges and take advantage of opportunities. Whether it’s preparing for vendor-managed inventory, discussing UPC driving the industry, direct-to-consumer sales, e-commerce or employee retention, this diverse small group of store owners from non-competing markets will sharpen each other, making themselves and the industry stronger. RIA Mastermind Groups will consist of less than 20 non-competing specialty run owners from around the country. They’ll meet four times per year – twice virtually and twice in-person – to share best practices and move their businesses forward. The goal for each session is to gain a new skill set, solve at least one problem and collaborate on best practices of shared issues, concerns and opportunities. Karnan Associates, which has been facilitating peer-sharing groups for over two decades, will be leading the charge. Their team will convene groups in-person at Runchella in May and then again at The Running Event in late 2022 in Austin, TX. Runchella Social Engagements - Learn. Run. Play. Repeat Runchella Industry Party — Sponsored by Brooks: Wednesday • 8 p.m.–12 a.m. Shuttles will take attendees to Ace Bounce, a fun, modern venue in the heart of Chicago. DJ music in the private party lounge will set the beat for some classic fun with 12 ping pong tables, shuffleboard and even beer pong (why not?!). No need to visit the bar — waiters will deliver drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Group Runs: Everyday–6:30am We know you all get twitchy if you don’t get your run on. You will have three opportunities to pace with your colleagues in early morning runs. There will be plenty of time to get back and ready for your first session of the day. Sponsoring brands will provide product testing and other fun activations.


© 2022 Diversified Communications

A Running Insight conversation with ...

Matt Schwartz, Chief Revenue Officer


Please give us the “elevator pitch” on what Aetrex is all about in 2022? Having conducted more than 40 million foot scans worldwide, Aetrex uses its vast storage of proprietary data to design and deliver products with health benefits never available to consumers before.

How can retailers sell more products by utilizing what Aetrex has to offer to them? The surest way to maximize the benefits of Albert 2 Pro is to cultivate the habit of using it as part of the fit experience every customer receives while shopping at your store. Consumers love the Albert 2 Pro experience — it’s novel, high-tech and personalized and a lot of fun for you customer. The more customers you scan, the more memorable experiences you create, the more data you collect and the more you drive enhanced sales.

What makes Aetrex unique in your space in run specialty? Aetrex combines data driven expertise about feet and decades of experience as the global leader in orthotics with more than 20 years designing and developing the cutting edge of foot scanning technology. This combination puts Aetrex in a position to customize the inside of running footwear to any consumer’s unique feet, delivering enhanced function and performance. What is your product focus in 2022? A major initiative for 2022 has been launching the web extension of our FitGenius AI match-making software. This e-commerce plug-in harnesses the data captured with our 3D scanners in-store to tell consumers, when they’re shopping online, how any shoe style is likely to fit their feet. It delivers a better e-commerce experience for shoppers, while significantly reducing online returns. We’ve launched FitGenius with a number of global retailers and we have an increasingly long queue of applicants who want to bring this e-commerce shopping enhancement to their online shoppers. What is your technology story in 2022? The Aetrex technology story centers 46

on using the rich data collected from its cutting-edge 3D and pressure scanning technology to design, produce and match customers with the ideal products for their unique feet.

What are you looking for in your involvement with Runchella? The running market is core for Aetrex. We share so many values: enhancing health and well-being, supporting our communities, creating the best personalized fit experience possible. We’ve developed strong, long-term partnerships throughout the industry. Our goal is to strengthen existing partnerships and forge new relationships with like-minded stores around the country. Finally, what does the rest of 2022 have in store for Aetrex and how are you going to achieve that? We continue to invest in our most import asset, our people. We’ve hired a ton of new employees over the past few years and continue to recruit aggressively. Throughout the remainder of the year, our teams will remain hard at work innovating an enhanced fit experience in store, while delivering an e-commerce experience that gives consumers an easy way to find shoes that best fit their feet.

© 2022 Diversified Communications

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A Running Insight conversation with ...

Josh Higgins, President


Please give us the “elevator pitch” on what OS1st is all about in 2022? We share the same mission as running retailers — to empower active lifestyles and connect with runners via small businesses who are invested in their community. While we celebrate a return to semi-normalcy compared to the past two years, OS1st will continue the work we’ve done during the pandemic to double down on our commitment to independent retailers with fairly priced sock and compression bracing products that empower add-on sales, delight customers and drive them back to the store. What makes OS1st unique in your space in run specialty? OS1st is different because of our mission and patented technology. We’ve built our brand on supporting independent retailers because we believe in the industry and we know the power of community. That is why no matter the audience, our story ends and begins with purchasing our products at an independent run store. Second, all our products use our patented Compression Zone Technology to ease pain with targeted compression, add comfort with premium materials, and perform with anatomical design. What is your product focus in 2022? We continue to see our existing run specialty stores expand their sock wall to include all our OS1st Socks with Purpose, including the Active Comfort, Thin Air, Wellness and Wide Wellness Socks, so part of our focus is maintaining our inventory and ship times to ensure our retailers continue


to have what they need when they need it. For new products, we’ve just launched the Plantar Fasciitis Relief Kit to give retailers a premium, all-in-one, compression solution for customers with Plantar Fasciitis. The kit includes our FS6 Foot Sleeve, DS6 Nighttime Sleeve and Plantar Fasciitis Socks all featuring our patented compression approach to heel pain. Why should run specialty retailers carry more product in the category? If you are a Running Industry Association member, then you’ve probably received the Upper Quadrant weekly snapshot emails. Broadly speaking, the shoe-to-sock fitting ratio for the run industry participants has been around 16 percent, meaning that fraction of shoe purchases included socks. Additionally, the total number of socks sold over the total number of shoe units for the industry participants has been 50-56 percent. That tells us that socks can be highvolume add-ons but aren’t being fully utilized on the sales floor.

How can these retailers sell more OS1st products? To fully leverage OS1st socks and compression bracing it all must complement and organically flow with the fit process. As a retailer is making unique shoe and insole recommendations, they can add on unique sock and bracing products to satisfy the customer even after they take their shoes off. OS1st products are condition and/or use-specific, which makes them a natural third piece to the process. For example, if a runner is being fitted for a shoe with more heel cushion and a Plantar Fasciitis insole, it should be second nature to recommend a brace and sock to help relieve swelling and support them while they are off their feet. What are you looking for in your involvement with Runchella? We are looking forward to showcasing our new products, making new run specialty friends and catching up with our old ones. It seems like a great place to celebrate a return to “normal” and dream up new plans to grow the industry. Finally, what does the rest of 2022 have in store for OS1st? Our mission doesn’t change and so we will continue serving our independent retailers — working on new products, utilizing new technology to help us learn more about their needs and fun brand building activity to keep telling our story. For details, schedule a meeting at Runchella or come see us at The Running Event.

© 2022 Diversified Communications


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A Running Insight conversation with ...

Steve Robinson, Chief Marketing Officer

POWERSTEP Please give us the “elevator pitch” on what PowerStep is all about in 2022? 2022 is an exciting time for PowerStep. We are coming off our strongest sales year ever and we have prioritized independent running stores this year with additional support and investment, product training via the Myagi platform and new, innovative products. What makes PowerStep unique in your space in run specialty? Support, Alignment and Impact. Pulse, our running line, has a supportive arch, a deep heel cup that properly aligns the body and patented cushioning that absorbs impact and retains 95 percent of its cushioning for months — all of which can help prevent pain, fatigue and future injury. What else about Pulse? Pulse also comes in standard shoe sizes to ensure proper arch placement, which also eliminates the need for in-store trimming or demo products. Also, our products are not available in mass brick-and-mortar stores. We want to provide a unique, specially designed product for our independent running partners. Finally, PowerStep was designed by a podiatrist, who was an avid runner, and to this day we are the Number One Recommended brand by podiatrists for runners. What is your product focus in 2022 for run specialty? We relaunched our PowerStep Pulse running line. While Pinnacle is our best seller today, and a fantastic product, I 50

PowerStep Pulse, will ultimately help the consumer get out and stay active for longer periods of time.

would encourage running store owners to look at the Pulse line – it is designed for their customers with superior impact absorption, whether running or walking. We have five products in the lineup — Pulse Performance, our hero, Pulse Thin for narrower fitting shoes, Pulse Maxx for people who overpronate, Pulse Plus with a Met pad, and Pulse ¾ length. Pulse Thin is an exciting new product that has the same support, alignment and impact benefits as the entire line, but its thinner and narrower profile is ideal for cleats, narrow fitting and casual shoes. Why should run retailers carry more product in your category? Category sales are growing. More customers are becoming aware of the benefits of insoles, especially orthotic insoles, which are currently underrepresented in specialty run. There is a great benefit for the customer – whether your running, walking or working on your feet all day. Providing customers a range of options, especially a more supportive option like

How can these retailers sell more PowerStep products? First, ensure that you are carrying the PowerStep Pulse line – which is designed for runners and active people. Second, expand the consumer base that are using PowerStep products. While we do very well with Podiatry and doctor referrals, many associates only think of PowerStep when runners have a foot issue or are in a lot of pain. While PowerStep does have a supportive arch, once the runner or walker adapts to PowerStep we know they will have better support and alignment – helping prevent future injuries or potential foot issues. What are you looking for in your involvement with Runchella? To better understand the needs of the running community, what challenges owners face and how we can help. I would also like to network, as I am still relatively new to this channel, and we might try to sell some PowerStep Pulse products while we are there. Finally, what does the rest of 2022 have in store for PowerStep and how are you going to achieve that? Significant growth. We will achieve that by listening to runners, consumers and the owners. We are committed to this channel and will invest significant resources to help the community and stores meet their goals with strong training and support for the associates and great products for the consumers.

© 2022 Diversified Communications

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A Running Insight conversation with ...

Dion Mitchell, National Sales Manager

UPPER QUADRANT Please give us the “elevator pitch” on what Upper Quadrant is all about? Upper Quadrant specializes in datadriven marketing and insights. Upper Quadrant’s trusted digital marketing, email marketing and websites services paired with scroll-stopping creatives help retailers and brands get more customers, more often. Our UQ Cadence Platform provides unmatched industry visibility for run specialty retailers and brands. What makes Upper Quadrant unique in your space in run specialty? What sets UQ apart from other marketing agencies is our customer focus, innovation, transparency and, last but not least, our team. Why is your research and data so important to store owners in the current retail environment? With competition at an all-time high, what really sets retailers apart is the

snapshots leverage data to answer “How I am doing?” every day. With the ability to track marketing performance online and in-store, our team and our bots are consistently optimizing creatives, audiences and placements to deliver results.

details. With our reporting, retailers have a holistic view of their business and can maximize their potential by focusing on opportunities for improvement. Retailers can then apply these findings to their overall strategy. How can these retailers sell more products by utilizing what Upper Quadrant data and research? With UQ Cadence, our weekly industry

Team Leaderboard is now a Team + Store Leaderboard. The report includes a table for comparing locations.


What are you looking for in your involvement with Runchella? We are excited to hear what’s important to the industry from the retailers themselves and showcase what we have been working on to further help. Finally, what does the rest of 2022 have in store for Upper Quadrant? Simplification, innovation, connectivity, diversity and robot process automation. We’ll be equipping retailers and brands with new tools, simplified insights and marketing tactics centered around our mission — Innovating the use of data to transform industries.

Upper Quadrant’s New Footwear Insights Report gives retailers and brands unprecedented footwear category intelligence down to the model level.

© 2022 Diversified Communications


2022 Run Specialty Market Annual Market Size


Door Account Stats

Retailer Stats








WA 32 MT 4


















72% ME 6

ND 3

OR 21 ID 7

MN 17 WI 16

SD 4

NV 8

IA 11

NE 5 UT 13

CA 94

AZ 18

CO 28

IN 25

IL 54 KS 9

OK 10

NM 6

MO 19

PA 52

OH 62

KY 16

WV 8 VA 39 NC 49

TN 26

SC 22

AR 9 MS 9

AK 4

NY 46

MI 35

WY 2

AL 12

GA 38

VT 2 NH 7 MA 30 CT 18 RI 3 NJ 26 DE 3 MD 18 DC 5

TX 64 LA 13

Doors by State

FL 63

HI 7

Get Industry benchmarks in your inbox every Monday.


BY UPPER QUADRANT IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE RUNNING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION DataPoints is produced by Upper Quadrant by aggregating data from over 200 doors. Upper Quadrant assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in this content. The information contained this infographic is provided on “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness, or timeliness.

A Running Insight conversation with ...

Lutz Klein, President, U.S./Germany/Spain


Please give us the “elevator pitch” on what Currex is all about in 2022? In just a few years, Currex developed from a no-name brand from Germany to become the best-selling insole SKU in the U.S. running market. We offer the highest customized overthe-counter product by respecting the runner’s foot type and weight (impact force and gait). Our insoles work hand in hand with the shoe technology with features such as zero drop, light weight, dynamic arch support and de-coupled heel. With three profiles – high, medium and low – all athletes can simply access all our unique sport specific insoles with one profile, from cleated sports to hockey, skiing, cycling, hiking and much more. What makes Currex unique in your space in run specialty? In addition to our multi-sport lineup, we are the only OTC insole measured to reduce plantar pressure in the shoe while adding increased comfort over the stock sock liner. What is your product focus in 2022 for run specialty? While we continue growing our awareness of the RunPro for the average run specialty customers, we recently introduced the SupportSTP — a more supportive, yet dynamic product that offers a great solution for the elder community or customers who experience simple foot problems.

How can these retailers sell more Currex products? Very simply, let shoppers compare shoes with and without a Currex insole. Having any type of 3D technology or our Footdisc helps educate the customer, but eventually the customer has the final say on the comfort and support they feel when experiencing the insole in their shoes.

Shoppers come in with recommendations from their medical providers and shoppers who come to buy shoes. In our experience, the majority of shoppers – when comparing Currex to the standard liner or even other insoles – prefer our dynamic product. Thus, the retailers provide a service which is not available online and potentially increase their revenue as well.

What are you looking for in your involvement with Runchella? We are looking forward to meeting with our customers, encouraging retailers to chat with stores who do really well with Currex and also listening to feedback for improvement. Currex is and will remain a committed partner of run specialty stores. Finally, what does the rest of 2022 have in store for Currex and how are you going to achieve that? We continue to grow coming from a great 2021. In partnership with our retailers, we are confident in continuing to provide world-class products and customer service.

Why should run specialty retailers carry more product in the insole category? To us, there are two scenarios.


© 2022 Diversified Communications




CURREX IS A LEADER IN DESIGNING HIGHLY CUSTOMIZED OVER-THE-COUNTER INSOLES. All of our insoles are scientifically proven to reduce foot pressure and provide superior support. And now you can experience them for yourself in your store. Pick from our top-rated RUNPRO insoles in three different arch profiles or our SUPPORTSTP insoles for everyday wear.

DON’T MISS OUT. RAISE YOUR GAME BY CARRYING OUR PRODUCT IN YOUR STORES. EMAIL: CURREXINSIDE@CURREX.US | CALL: 844-428-7739 (844-4CURREX) CURREX.US * Sports Marketing Surveys USA, “Running Specialty Shop Retail Audit” (2020)

A Running Insight conversation with ...

Mike Houser, VP–U.S. Sales

SUPERFEET Please give us the “elevator pitch” on what Superfeet is all about in 2022? Superfeet is the complete insole partner at specialty running! What makes Superfeet unique in your space in run specialty? Superfeet was the first insole in the specialty run space. Forty-five years later we still provide the best in quality, comfort and performance for runners. We know people’s biomechanics are complex and are working hard to make solving those complex needs, simple. With our run-specificinsole assortment, you quickly can tailor your customers fit to meet their individual foot shape, performance, injury, and footwear needs. What about your charitable efforts? Unique to the space, we donate one percent of annual sales to shaping a strong foundation for people and the planet. We are proud to be members of the Running Industry Association, Running Industry Diversity Coalition, Protect Our Winters and the Conservation Alliance, and a portion of our donations goes to support support Fisher House Foundation What is your product focus in 2022 for run specialty? This year is all about providing the complete fit experience. Last year we introduced the ADAPT Run and ADAPT Run Max insoles into the channel. They immediately became our two best-selling insoles for the retailers that brought them in. We are looking to have more retailers take advantage of these great new products, helping to sharpen merchandise 56

get the right product mix and then make sure your staff knows how to offer it to the customer. Also, consider bringing in the Volumental x Superfeet personalized fit experience. We are confident the system’s gait analysis and insole recommendation will make it easier to visualize the benefits of an insole and will make selecting the best insole for each person easier for your staff.

mixes so staff has an understandable range of insoles and knows how to offer them to the consumer. We are doing this through our “adaptive to responsive” education that aligns with our ADAPT and RUN Series insoles. Why should run specialty retailers carry more product in the category? It’s not so much about more product — it’s more about the right product. Given the success of our ADAPT insoles, all run specialty retailers should be adding them to the mix. We also understand the limitations on wall and floor space, so we are here to assist all retailers to make sure they have the right mix of our range. Having the proper mix also makes it easier to train staff. How can these retailers sell more Superfeet products? That’s easy — let us help. If a retailer wants to grow the insole category, we have the tools to do so since we’ve been doing it for more than 45 years. As I already mentioned, we can help

What are you looking for in your involvement with Runchella? The independent run channel is the backbone of Superfeet, so, for one, we just love supporting the channel and look forward to spending time together. We are also excited to demonstrate the ways we can help individual retailers reach more profitability and deliver the best customer experience through our full range of products. Finally, what does the rest of 2022 have in store for Superfeet? We are coming off our best year ever. Our CEO, John Rauvola, likened it to winning the Super Bowl, so we are looking to repeat! We’ve made internal promises through our five-year vision to serve new populations, become carbon neutral, to continue to invest in our people, grow the impact of our philanthropy and, of course, hit certain financial milestones. We are putting the wheels in motion to achieve those promises, all the while keeping focus and heart in the run channel. We’ve built a great culture at Superfeet and will work hard together as a team to reach these goals and provide the best products for consumers.

© 2022 Diversified Communications




RUN Series


for step-in comfort & flexible cushioning

for a smooth ride & improved efficiency

for a one-of-a-kind custom fit

THE RIGHT FIT FOR EVERY RUNNER There's more to foot shape than arch height. Get the right fit for every runner's needs with a range of underfoot solutions, from flexible cushioning to responsive support to made-to-order 3D-printed insoles. NEW this summer: truly personalized insole recommendation via Volumental x Superfeet technology, making it easier than ever to expertly match the right insole to each person, for an experience as unique as they are.

SEE US AT RUNCHELLA TO LEARN MORE Contact Mike Houser, Vice President US Sales 267-907-4376 © Superfeet Worldwide LLC | All Rights Reserved

One More Thing ...

“Running With Purpose” — A new book by Brooks CEO Jim Weber shares a tale well told.


new book from Brooks C E O J i m We b e r, titled “Running with Pur pose,” with the intriguing subtitle of “How Brooks Outpaced Goliath Competitors to Lead the Pack,” contains a number of insights and reflections by one of the running industry’s most successful and inspirational executives. It is, by any account, equal parts memoir, business book and inspirational tome. “Brooks is an intriguing story and I wanted to share it,” Weber tells Running Insight. “It’s a turnaround and a David versus Goliath story and because we are a challenger brand, I thought business people would relate to it because there are more challenger brands than there are platform dominators.” Among the inside-the-ropes recollections: • Weber, one of six children in a working-class family in Minnesota, dreamed of playing professional hockey or running a major company. It was the latter dream that came true. • The Brooks story recounts how Weber and his team re-positioned the brand from its struggles selling $20 retail shoes at Big 5 to rise up and become a premium running brand. • Along the way, they created “Run Happy,” a marketing slogan that became the Brooks rallying cry as Weber built a relationship with none other than Warren Buffet, who bought Brooks as a gift-with-purchase when his company Berkshire-Hathaway acquired Russell in 2006. • Weber discovered the Oracle of 58

Omaha in business school, reading and taking to heart his annual letters to shareholders. When Weber shares Buffet stories in “Running with Purpose,” the business acumen, which combines common sense and the wisdom of a self-made billionaire, leaps off the page. • Weber is also not shy about sharing the bumps in the road, including the 2008-2009 double gut punch of the barefoot movement and the recession and, of course, the fiasco of opening a new distribution center in 2019 that was unable to ship shoes. “That’s part of our story,” he says. “Challenges are a given and disruptions are a given. That was painful because it could have been avoided. I feel bad that we let our customers down, but we recovered and are stronger today because of it.” • The closing chapters in the book are especially powerful and human as Weber details his battle with cancer. “The book turned more personal than I thought it would,” he admits. “But cancer taught me a lot and I wanted to share that, too.” Profits from the book will be donated to the Brooks Booster Club to provide performance running footwear, apparel and funding to under-resourced high school cross country and track teams. n The entire interview with Jim Weber appeared in the April 19 issue of Running Insight+ digital newsletter and can be found at Running with Purpose can be purchased at meet-brooks/running-with-purpose/

© 2022 Diversified Communications

NOV 29 - DEC 1, 2022 Austin Convention Center | Austin, TX

SPEAK AT THE RUNNING EVENT 2022 The #TRE22 Call for Education is Open! We’re looking for diverse voices to share new perspectives and industry knowledge with our passionate community of run specialty retailers.

Speaker Benefits • Position yourself as an industry leader • One complimentary #TRE22 pass • Invaluable networking opportunities • Photo and biography featured on The Running Event website and mobile app • Session featured in various marketing promotions, including the printed #TRE22 Planner

The #TRE22 Call for Education closes Tuesday, May 31. Propose a session at the following link:

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