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ISSUE 1406 FEBRUARY 10, 2014



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ISSUE 1406 FEBRUARY 10, 2014

NEWS & INFORMATION FOR THE RUNNING & TRIATHLON MARKET Senior Business Editor Thomas J. Ryan 917.375.4699 Contributing Editors Bill Kendy, Charlie Lunan, Matt Powell


Editorial & Creative Director Teresa Hartford

2 Under Armour Debuts Speedform Apollo 6 Brooks Juggernaut Continues 8 Moving Comfort and Brooks Apparel Refocus

Senior Graphic Designer Camila Amortegui

10 Rich Harshbarger, President, Running USA

Advertising Sales Account Managers

SGB INTERVIEW Staff Pick 11 Retro New Balance

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Under Armour Debuts SpeedForm Apollo By Thomas J. Ryan As part of the brand's four-day take-over of New York City's Grand Central Terminal over Super Bowl weekend, Under Armour debuted at a star-studded event the UA SpeedForm Apollo Running Shoe and "This Is What Fast Feels Like," the newest iteration of the brand's I WILL global marketing campaign. Under Armour Founder and CEO Kevin Plank unveiled the latest spot and introduced the running shoe, which was recently named "Best Debut" by Runner's World magazine in the 2014 Spring Shoe Guide. NFL Pro Bowler Cam Newton, MMA legend Georges St-Pierre and American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland joined Plank at the event. In an interview with SGB Weekly, Dave Dombrow, senior creative director of footwear, said the $100 SpeedForm Apollo follows on the heels of the SpeedForm RC, which was released last year and sells for $120. The RC claimed to be the first shoe made in a bra factory, and the Apollo was made in the same place. But the Apollo promises to reach a broader spectrum of runners than the RC, which was built more as a racer. Compared to the RC, Dombrow said the biggest difference is the model has “substantially more” cushion underfoot and is a “little more stable” with a stability bar in the base of the shoe. A supportive TPU curve also helps with stability. The “guided fit” forefoot design in the RC, which featured a rib-like construction, has been replaced by a flat, more traditional one. Strategically placed abrasion rubber has been placed in high wear areas for durability and traction. At 6.5 ounces, the Apollo is slightly heavier than the RC’s 6.0 ounces. But the sleek appearance is similar to the RC with its perforated breathable upper and it also features the same responsive Micro G midsole and seamless 3D heel cup as the RC. “I don’t want to put a distance on it but for myself it’s a great half marathon shoe and maybe even a marathon shoe if you’re a pretty efficient runner,” said Dombrow. “But you can put some distance in this and this really could be your everyday running and training shoe.” The distribution will be wider than the RC since it reaches a broader audience although run specialty accounts will have access to special color ways, special graphics and other unique features. With its wider reach, the Apollo has the potential for a bigger payback than the RC, which had limited distribution. 4 SGB PERFORMANCE | FEBRUARY 10, 2014

“This may very well be our next defining product,” Plank said on the Thursday before the Super Bowl on the company’s fourth-quarter conference call with analysts. “I’m not ready to claim that it is, but it has that potential.” Dombrow said that while Under Armour has had some successes such as the Spine, the RC and Apollo fit closer to Under Armour’s apparel DNA since it was made in a bra factory. The company has regularly claimed it reinvented the T-shirt with its arrival in 1996. “One of the things we say is ‘This is the shoe we were born to make’ and it goes back to leveraging our apparel DNA. We’re kind of reinventing footwear manufacturing and that goes back to how the company was started. It’s even made in an apparel factory. And it also gives you a different sensation on the foot as well. So in a lot of ways, this shoe is kind of a big point from the innovation side for us,” said Dombrow. Dombrow went on to say that the brand continues to grow “quite rapidly” in both the run specialty channel as well as in its core sporting goods accounts and at mall specialty. He said while the brand’s foundation remains in sporting goods, “we know that to be an innovative brand in the future we need to keep reaching and servicing run specialty as well. Of course, it’s going to take time. You have to build trust and trust takes time and that’s what we’re building.” Backing up the launch will be the "This Is What Fast Feels Like" spot that features a character - not unsurprisingly - named, "Apollo," who takes viewers through an athlete's journey “as he passes by some of the fastest innovations ever created while forging a new -- and even faster – path,” according to Under Armour’s marketing copy. Click on video above to view. Peter Berg, director of the true military drama, Lone Survivor, collaborated with Under Armour's creative team and directed the shoot at March Airfield Base in Riverside, CA. The campaign makes its broadcast debut on February 22 during the NFL Network's coverage of the Scouting Combine, followed by placement during ESPN's Golden State Warriors vs. New York Knicks NBA telecast on Februrary 28. The campaign will extend through digital via a number of media partners including,, YouTube. ■


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Brooks Juggernaut Continues Brooks Running Company is showing little signs of slowing down as the recently crowned leader of the running space reported solid double-digit growth in 2013. Brooks also announced several organizational changes to support its growth down the road, particularly in Japan and Europe. By Thomas J. Ryan

Brooks Running Company is showing little signs of slowing down as the recently crowned leader of the running space reported solid doubledigit growth in 2013. Brooks also announced several organizational changes to support its growth down the road, particularly in Japan and Europe. Jim Revenues in 2013 increased 17 per- Weber, cent, driven by a 16 percent increase CEO in the U.S. and a 27 percent increase Brooks Running in Europe. “We’re growing everywhere that matters,” said Jim Weber, CEO, at a breakfast meeting before the start of the second day at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. “We had a great year in the U.S., both in footwear and apparel. And we had a fantastic year in Europe, the brand has really tipped there.” Highlights of the year include Brooks growing its No. 1 market share position at specialty running account stores (SRAs) nationwide with 29 percent running footwear retail dollar share. In the neutral running footwear category, Brooks accounted for 46 percent of total running shoes sold at SRA. The trend toward a more cushioned running experience was evidenced by the success of the Ravenna, Glycerin, and Ghost, which grew by 72, 53, and 52 percent respectively, according to the company’s 2013 fiscal results. Its apparel business grew 16 percent year-over-year. Brooks, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, also earned a variety of awards: »» »» »» »» »» »»

Editor’s Choice award from Runner’s World magazine for the Ghost 6 for the fourth year in a row; Editor’s Choice award from Runner’s World magazine for the Cascadia 8; Best Buy award from Runner’s World magazine for the PureConnect 2; Best Trail Shoe award from Women’s Health magazine for the Cascadia 8; 2013 Vendor of the Year award from the Independent Running Retailers Association (IRRA) for the third year in a row; and 2013 Shoe of the Year award from the Independent Running Retailers Association for the Ghost 6.


Weber admitted that like many other vendors, Brooks continues to ride a strong trend toward people looking to engage in active lifestyles and the ongoing popularity of running that’s “right in the middle of this fitness lifestyle.” He added, “Every place we look there are more people running.” He noted that 26,000 races were held in 2013 and 19 million people in the U.S ran at least twice a week. Of that group, only 40 percent signed up for a race. He added, “So racing is just an element of what’s happening in this lifestyle. The fitness phenomenon is amazing.” Around demographics, 47 percent of runners are under 35 years old in the U.S., with the sport’s attraction “not just boomers trying to feel young and alive.” In Japan, the “running boom is absolutely happening.” Europe is also growing, and while women are now leading the running craze in the U.S., that’s only starting to happen in Europe. But Weber also credited Brooks’ efforts to “lead with product” and its Run Happy campaign that’s resonating with frequent runners. One measure of Brooks’ success is the fact that Brooks’ average retail price was $97 in the last 12 months versus the top other six brands ranging from $56 to $88. Weber said this reflected Brooks premium-positioning emphasis. He added, “We don’t build shoes under $90. Our best sellers are $120 and up.” The brand’s connection to frequent runners is evident by the shoe counts it does at races. At last year’s Marine Corps Marathon, a race Brooks sponsors, 26 percent of all runners wore Brooks, the highest mark ever achieved by the brand. At the Boston Marathon, Asics led the way with 22 percent, but Brooks was second at 18 and the next brand was 12 percent. Weber said connecting with frequent runners is critical to Brooks’ success because “they’re discerning, they care about their gear and we always felt if we can win with them, we’re going to build cachet and credibility as a brand. They also buy 2.6 pairs a year on average. So if you can win them over, you’ve got a loyal customer.” Critical to reaching both frequent and new runners are strong partnerships with SRA doors. Weber noted that only three brands have led the SRA channel, starting with Nike from the first running boom until the early nineties, then led by Asics for a spell before Brooks took over the top spot two years ago. Weber said Brooks recognizes the benefits of that leadership position. He elaborated, “We think you have to earn it there every day because it’s all about fantastic product and then you have to service that channel well too, which we’re pretty focused on.” The continuing importance of the SRA channel was again showed by a survey of 1,400 runners, a similar one the company has done for the last 5 years. The survey showed that 31 percent of frequent runners bought their last running shoes at an SRA account. At the same time, the number two channel was the Internet, at 28 percent. Weber said the “dynamic with the Internet is a huge topic right now.” Runners often choose to buy their second or third shoe from the Internet largely due to convenience. But he still added that there’s “no question that’s a place runners go when they know their shoe. But we absolutely see clear view from even younger people that they value that community running store. It’s something they really value if they’re into this lifestyle.” Among other channels, sporting goods made up 13 percent and family footwear, only 4 percent. Added Weber, “We’re not missing a lot of runners by not being at family footwear. We’re following runners wherever they go.” Weber noted that “product experience is king,” but the past year has shown that “cushioning matters,” with a shift away from the trend toward minimalist toward more-cushioned models. As such, PureProject didn’t hit projections. Photos courtesy Brooks

The minimalist offerings have come back to represent about 8 to 10 percent of the marketplace, which Weber said was “kind of where lightweight always was.” With the lightweight category “clearly over-assorted,” cushioning, as exemplified by its new plush Transcend shoe, is back in vogue. In particular, comfort needs to be instantly recognized in front of the shoe wall but also proven at “mile 20.” Brooks still remains “super excited where PureProject fits” and expects all four models to become franchises with dedicated fans. Weber concluded, “We love the fact that there’s multiple running experiences that people were trying, they just didn’t buy the second shoe and went back to traditional cushioning technology. We’re super excited that we embrace it all. We never looked at this barefoot phenomenon as the enemy.” On the marketing front, Weber believes the “Run Happy” marketing mantra is certainly helping differentiate the brand from competitors on the footwear side as well. Said Weber, “We still believe the way we’re positioned and the spirit and ethos of our brand is like nothing else out there. We really feel we’re in control of our destiny if we control that.” Weber said Brooks is “basically running quite ahead of ” its 10-year plan initiated in 2009 to become a billion brand while achieving a “frontrunner position” in the run category with 15 percent share globally. The vision has involved investments in culture, people, process and systems with a full reset of its global structure over the last two years. Last week, Brooks announced several moves to help better manage its business by region. Its EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) headquarters will relocate from Münster, Germany to Amsterdam, a move that allows it to deepen ties with runners across the region. Current Brooks President and COO David Bohan will assume the role of president of EMEA.

Heiner Ibing will serve as managing director of the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). Two long-time company leaders are also relocating from global headquarters to posts abroad. Hamish Stewart joins the UK team as UK country manager and Dan Rickfelder takes on the role of brand manager, Spain. Rob Langstaff, a former president at Adidas America, has transitioned from the Brooks board of advisors to tackle the role of SVP and managing director Asia Pacific and Latin America Regions. A special focus will be on Japan, the world’s second largest running market. In North America, Brooks Canada will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary, strengthening its presence in the Canadian running community. Dan Sheridan will continue to lead North America. On the product side as part of changes last year, Dave Larson oversees running footwear and global marketing while Anne Cavassa manages apparel, both for the Brooks brand and Moving Comfort. John Rangel, formerly at K2, joined Brooks last year as CFO. Kevin Gosney, formerly at Converse, runs operations. Anne Reeve heads up human resources. In 2014, Brooks will be celebrating its centennial year with a new global headquarters in Seattle, just off the popular Burke-Gilman Trail. A celebratory event will be held in May for its retail and other industry partners. Some heritage styles are also being brought back for the first time since they were retired in 2001. Looking ahead, Weber believes while Brooks products and “Run Happy” messaging are clicking in the marketplace, execution will become even more critical in the years ahead. “We’re executing very well,” said Weber. “We’ve got a great product pipeline. But doing that at a billion is our goal. And we want to be as good at executing our strategy then as we are today.” ■












peaking at a breakfast meeting before the start of the second day at the show, Cavassa noted that she had more than 20 years of design and merchandising experience with past stints at Ibex, Nike, EMS, Reebok, Tommy Bahama, and Eddie Bauer. In April 2013, she became the first person put in charge of both Moving Comfort and Brooks apparel brand. The new position was created to help each brand heighten its differentiation in the marketplace, leverage their unique strengths, and improve engagement with consumers. But in taking the job, Cavassa was especially enthused about “taking our apparel to the next level and on equal status with footwear.” However, she spent considerable time detailing the challenges Brooks has as well as the overall SRA channel faces in the apparel category. Runners have an “emotional connection” to footwear with the products ability to drive peak performance and offer injury protection. In the same way, a women will be “absolutely loyal” to a sports bra that works. In both areas, Brooks and Moving Comfort also have leading share in the SRA channel. By contrast, apparel is a “highly competitive” space led by “multi-billion giants” like Nike, Under Armour and Lululemon. Brooks also recognized that “as a niche brand we can’t stand out as a brand by copying the big styles. We had to have a standout strategy that differentiates us. And we have to be great and just can’t be good.” Ultimately, Brooks recognized that it had to change its internal thinking from being “a footwear brand that has apparel product” to making a commitment to be “great in all categories.” For Moving Comfort, that led to the move in late November to discontinue its apparel offerings by the end of 2014. Cavassa stressed that it was far from an “easy decision” and even an “emotional” one. The apparel side, which accounted for 20 to 25 percent of sales, was showing a “bit of momentum on a really small base” and the overall positioning as a women’s fitness brand appears “a little more sexy” than just focusing on bras. But she likened the move to Brooks’ similar shift in 2001 from being a diverse athletic footwear vendor to focus solely on run. The overall sports bra category had become “much more competitive” since Moving Comfort was founded in the late seventies to pioneer the category. The singular focus would force Moving Comfort’s team to “absolutely have to lead in sports bras.” Brooks also recognized the necessity to not only lead in product but also “brand experience” with in-store engagement. Cavassa added, “When you think about sports bras, it’s not just an ultimate piece of gear. When you get a women in the right sports bra, it’s transformative.” Moving Comfort also has substantial room left to grow in bras. While the brand has the dominant 70 percent leadership in the bra category in the SRA channel, SRA makes up only about 1 percent of all sports bras in the marketplace. That points to significant opportunities to grow in the sporting goods channel, where Moving Comfort has about 10 percent share, as well as at department stores. At the same time, Moving Comfort has a dominant share in the high-impact (control) category of bras, but still has substantial room to expand in the low-impact (secure) and medium-impact (stabilizer) categories across channels, including SRA. Besides greater innovations being set for the secure and stabilizer categories, Moving Comfort will also build on its leadership position with brand education by working to bring more of an “experiential story” to retail based on a woman’s needs and the specific activities she’s doing,


Moving Comfort and Brooks Apparel Refocus The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market marked the unveiling of a new positioning for Moving Comfort and Brooks apparel but also somewhat of a coming out party for Anne Cavassa, VP of global apparel at Brooks Running. By Thomas J. Ryan

Photo courtesy Moving Comfort

...we are not looking to be the biggest, we’re looking to be the brand that captures hearts.”

Anne Cavassa, VP of global apparel at Brooks Running

rather than the largely “transactional” one that exists currently. Said Cavassa, “You’ll see us bring to life a secure, stabilizer and control story. It’s about giving your body a hug, finding that perfect balance.” In apparel with Brooks, Cavassa believes that alongside competitors like Nike, Under Armour and Lululemon, Brooks has a unique positioning within the active apparel space, particularly as a run-centered brand and with its “Run Happy” marketing mantra. But internally, a greater commitment is being made toward Brooks being the “number one performance running lifestyle brand” across categories and not just footwear. That’s led to a rethinking of strategies in apparel that is impacting everything from R&D to retail relationships and overall brand stories. In design, Cavassa also said Brooks apparel - also about 20 to 25 percent of Brooks brand sales - needs to be more differentiated, noting that it’s “hard to tell the difference in apparel if you take the labels or logos off all the product.” Apparel will also need to “strike that right balance” between performance and fashion elements. While performance innovation needs to be elevated to meet the demand of the performance runner with looks inspired by track & field, Brooks’ apparel team is also focused on performance lifestyle, or what Brooks internally calls the “anti-uniform” that the runner can wear for running or hanging out with friends. Cavassa added, “We know that an aesthetic that connects those two things is absolutely critical from a brand perspective and that driving fashion throughout is important.” The new Pure collection offers a hint at that direction but a full reset is expected to be in place by fall 2015. Brooks’ apparel challenge also involves reviving the category at SRA. With Lululemon’s success, apparel overall has been losing share at SRA. Moreover, SRA features “footwear experts but not necessarily [experts] from the apparel perspective.” Toward this end, Brooks’ apparel team is shifting from “a wholesale mentality to a retail mentality” to better understand how its apparel positioning stories are received by consumers as well as redoubling its efforts to bring story-telling elements around its premium positioning. Ultimately, Cavassa said that while look, feel, and fit are all essential ingredients around its premium brand positioning, stature is especially important. Brooks’ overall mission is to position itself as a “love brand” by scores of runnners. That goal is important to making further inroads in apparel because apparel is more about matching an individual’s lifestyle. “It’s a magical mix and it’s a lofty goal and we know were playing in a real competitive marketplace,” said Cavassa. “But as product people we believe that product comes first. And if we deliver the best product out there, people will respond. And we are not looking to be the biggest, we’re looking to be the brand that captures hearts.” ■ FEBRUARY 10, 2014 | SGB PERFORMANCE



Rich Harshbarger President Running USA


unning USA, the non-profit organization for the running industry, recently selected Rich Harshbarger as its new CEO succeeding Susan Weeks. Harshbarger, 44, was formerly VP of consumer marketing and communications for Detroit Media Partnership since May 2008. His responsibilities included overseeing the day-to-day marketing functions for the most used media brands in Metro Detroit including: The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press and their award winning websites. Harshbarger also acts as executive race director for the Detroit Free Press Marathon, an annual event with nearly 30,000 runners. A California Bay Area native, Harshbarger is a former competitive swimmer and now a fitness runner. Running USA was formed in 1999 as a joint venture between a coalition of leading road races, race services companies, runningrelated media companies, the athletic industry and USA Track & Field with a goal of building and promoting the sport. Its website,, is known as the leading worldwide source for racing statistics. Why did you take the role? I am excited to join this leading national non-profit organization and to help advance and grow the sport. Running USA is the authority for the industry and I am looking forward to adding value for our members and sponsors. What are some key priorities for Running USA for 2014? The priorities will continue to be promotion of the sport and helping our members and sponsors receive value for their investments. Running USA is a respected resource for the media, event directors and partners, and I look forward to deepening the value we provide. What trends are you seeing in racing? With a record of more than 16 million finishers last year, racing of all distances continues to


be popular. Certainly themed events continue to pop up across the USA - from zombies to obstacle, mud courses to color runs - there is something for every level of runner. It typically comes down to the overall experience participants have if the event will continue to be successful. These innovations in themes and types of races ultimately help the sport to continue to grow and reach new audiences. We’ve seen many healthy trends around running participation. What concerns you? A few things our industry should keep an eye on include safety and costs. Nearly one year after Boston, security at events has been scrutinized and rightly so. What is the right amount? How much is too much? We need to continue discussing this to learn from one another and to help ensure events are accessible to spectators and volunteers while also protecting all involved. At the upcoming Running USA 2014 conference, we have a panel discussing this important topic. Regarding costs, events and merchandise appear to be climbing. Clearly in many cases this is because the quality of those items is also getting better. However, we should be cautious about the market and understand where the ceiling is. What’s on tap for the current year? I am looking forward to attending our upcoming conference in San Diego that takes place from February 9-11, meeting with partners and members to get a better sense of what's on their minds. What keeps them up at night? Knowing the concerns of our constituents will be a driving factor in how Running USA will help address them. How is Running USA supporting the running vendor and retail community? At Running USA, we want to be a resource to all influencers in the sport. For example, we distribute our annual member event calendar through running specialty stores. Also, what works in Des Moines for a running store, might scale or fit in Detroit. Certainly inspiring new runners is a goal. I think the growth in themed events is helping with that, and The Color Run has done an amazing job of reaching a previously untapped segment. As CEO, I plan to speak to as many people in the industry as possible to continue to grow the sport and this thriving industry. â–


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