2019 The Running Event Diary: Why brands invest in track & field?

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Under Armour spike, photo by The Shoe Addicts

When I meet with footwear brands, the discussion always goes to reaching young runners. I always hear, then, "Well, we can not afford to do a spike line."

Under my breath, I say, "that is not the point."

So, look at the numbers. 1.4 million boys and girls competed in track and cross country in 2019. That is 560,000 high school cross country, and 900,000 in high school track. Of those 1.4 million, 500,000 run both. So, you have 500,000 boys and girls running 46 weeks a year, six days a week, with average workout of two hours, five minutes. The 500,000 purchase an average of 5 pairs of training shoes a year, the 900,000 purchase 3-4 pairs of running shoes. Average price? $120 in track only, $160 in both.

5.2 million pairs of shoes a year due to high school athletics, the largest high school sport, next to football, and basketball. Now, do I have your attention.

I recall a conversation with my old buddy, David Murphy, when he was ensconced in adidas. He shared that adidas probably lost $100 on each pair of track spikes it sold. In 2019, just over 700,000 pairs of specialty track spikes and 100,000 pairs of XC racing shoes were sold.

Track spikes give many young athletes their first chance to see other shoe brands. adidas, ASICS, Brooks, Nike, New Balance, PUMA, Saucony, and now, Under Armour have developed their own line.

It also is the brand's investment in the next generation of consumers. PUMA used to do well with a sprint and distance shoe only for junior high school athletes. Find a niche and stick to it.

The key is to invest, in your present and future!

Now, check out my rant, and enjoy walking the floor today in Austin. I hear Jim Weber is buying a few beers tonight.

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