Industry View VIEW FROM THE INDUSTRY
The Trail Running Opportunity
hen the traditionally cautious Bauer Media launched
Trail Runner earlier this year, it should have been a wake-up call to retailers across the country. A new customer demographic is emerging
The inov-8™ bare-grip 200. This revolutionary shoe won the Gold Award at OutDoor and launches spring 2011.
within the specialist outdoor and running markets. Whilst it is difficult to point to the exact reason, there has been an explosion in trail running participation in the last two years. It is clear that traditional outdoor customers are running more and that traditional road runners are also dabbling. With an estimated 1.7million road runners in the UK, it only takes a tiny percentage swing to generate 10,000’s of new customers. There has also been a proliferation in adventure running events such as the Lakeland Trials series and with a more urban, but nevertheless off road ethos, events such as Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest, which are regularly attracting 3,000 plus competitors. They all buy their shoes from somewhere…
Before considering the sales opportunity, we need to understand the customer. Trail, mountain and fell runners are all different types of customers within a broader off-road running category. Sure, trail running is the biggest opportunity, but ensuring the right products are targeted at the right consumer is crucial.
Perhaps because they are closer to the general running market, the specialist running shops have been first to react to this surge in popularity and arguably remain best positioned to capitalise. However, the vast majority of specialist running shops still poorly serve the off-road runner and a typical scenario would be a wall of 100 running shoes with between 5 and 8 classified as off road. Likewise in the outdoor sector, retailers have preferred to stick with products and brands with their roots in walking and mountaineering, within a limited off-road running section. In many ways the specialist outdoor retailers should be the natural home for off-road running, but it seems to be a lack of confidence that is holding retailers back. As opposed to the specialist running store, whose over-reliance on the volume-selling, mainstream running brands seems to be their Achilles heel.
Certainly, there is an opportunity for the retailers that commit to greater offering in-store. inov-8 has launched a series of Off Road Running Centres with retailers across the UK that showcase a minimum of 15 shoes, plus packs, socks and accessories and this has been a significant driver for the rapid growth that inov-8 has experienced.
inov-8 is not reinventing the wheel here but using solid marketing basics (great supply, staff training, in-store branding with specific promotional initiatives) to generate sales.
The success that inov-8 has achieved is ultimately linked to great product. Most elite mountain runners are freely choosing to wear inov-8 shoes and the list of World Championship wins and product awards turns many competitors green.
Shane Ohly is a freelance consultant currently supporting inov-8 as their marketing manager.
14 SGB SPORT NOVEMBER 2010 Trading Intelligence
Shop name: Withers Intersport Location: Leicester City Centre Owner: Steve Brett and Bob Withers Opened: 1940 Affiliation: Intersport Number of staff: Six plus two partners Speciality: Racket Sports, Rugby, Running
Not a lot of people know this about my business, but ….
Withers Intersport, formerly Withers Sports is a family run business that started 70 years ago as a saddlers business. John Albert Withers bought the business for £100 from his boss. He had to borrow £20 from his brother so he could afford the purchase. Leather was associated with the sports trade at the time so it was a natural progression to move the business to sports in the late 1950’s. Withers still has old fashioned values of customer service and we feel it is very important to have staff that play sport and are able to talk competently about it! Steve is a racket player of some pedigree – seven time senior county singles champion at Badminton and twice at Tennis in Leicester – and is currently British Over 45 National Indoor Singles title holder and in the GB over 45 squad for tennis.
How is business at the moment?
Business is tough and challenging at the moment in these economic times and we cannot see things changing soon! You have to keep looking at niches and looking after your client base as best you can and ‘bolt down the hatches'.
What has been the greatest success for your business over the past 12 months?
Celebrating 70 years in the trade, a feat that will be hard to beat in this day and age and one that we are very proud of.
What recent supplier initiative has been successful? We had a very successful promotion from K-Swiss, offering a free Backpack with every K-Swiss shoe sold and a free bag offer from Wilson on BLX Technology Tennis Rackets.
What will be the biggest challenge for your business over the next 12 months?
The biggest challenge over the next 12 months will be based around these very challenging times. The need to stay in control, look after our customers, find new customers and look for niches has never been more important!!!
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