HILLY Clothing Company extols the virtues of technical running socks
There has been a phenomenal increase in the number of people taking up running/jogging and general exercise, particularly among women. Events such as Race For Life and The Moonwalk have contributed to the above.
Although there are a lot of independent specialist running stores around the country to cater for this market, the general independent retailer should also consider stocking some technical running socks as many recreational runners will visit such stores, especially if they participate in other sports too.
Anyone who has ever attempted to take up running, or some form of fitness activity, will know that the greatest enemies out there are blisters and foot injuries. The amount of people who are constantly nursing their feet is staggering, often leading to taped feet, plasters and lots of Vaseline!
There is a much simpler way of preventing such problems, which in the long run will be more cost effective - technical running socks. Says Graham Richards, managing director of HILLY Clothing Limited: “Like any product stocked, the retailer needs to know the features of the product, and in the case of running socks, the advantages of a technical sock versus a non-technical sock, so that he can inform and educate the customer.
“All HILLY socks incorporate the following features and ideally the retailer should be aware of them: technical yarns that wick perspiration away from the feet to help keep them dry; a seamless toe construction to help prevent rubbing, and in turn, blisters; an arch-grip section for optimum fit; and a Y or W-shaped heel construction for better fit.
“For these reasons, technical socks are now becoming an integral part of a runner’s kit.”
When a customer visits the store to purchase a pair of training shoes, the retailer should make use of ‘try-on’ socks at all times, as in many cases it will be the first time that a consumer will have actually tried a technical sock on. Suppliers provide try-on socks free, so there is no excuse for the retailer not to use them.
The key benefits of selling technical running socks are in the main two-fold. Firstly, socks, like other accessories, are good add-on sales and, secondly, if a retailer spends time testing and fitting the consumer with a pair of running shoes, he should see it as part of his service to send the consumer away with a technical sock as well. This is because the sock complements the shoe and retailers should ensure, as part of the service offered, that the customer leaves the store with the correct kit.
The technology is out there and needs to be passed onto the consumer. Occasionally, however, consumers will make reference to the price of a technical sock with comments such as: “£8.99 for a pair of socks is a bit steep”, or “I can get three pairs for £1 down at the market”. If the retailer can explain the technical points, let the consumer try on a sock and emphasise that technical socks will last a lot longer anyway, then he should be able to convince the consumer.
Says Pete Riley, HILLY’s marketing manager: “We find that once a customer has worn a pair of our technical socks they will not return to their non-technical socks again. If a retailer is confident selling a product and understands it, then the customer will also be convinced.
“The great thing about our socks is that they work - we know they work and the majority of people who have ever bought a HILLY sock know they work. We find that regular staff training, good technical POS and good merchandising will add many additional sales. Once you’ve worn a technical sock, you’ll never go back.”