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knog
Sep 27, 2018

Keeping ahead of an ever shifting market

Jonathan Midwood, General Manager of Up & Running, looks at the changes and what has driven the running market over the years

We have been doing what we do, that is sell running ‘kit’, for over 25 years now and in that time the running industry from a product, brand and media perspective has changed beyond all recognition.

Technology and the application of it for running purposes has moulded shoes, apparel and electronics to not only feed demand, but also create demand. From the early days of a Nike Swoosh being applied to a product and it becoming a ‘must have’ item, brands have tried to tap into the desire of runners and have aimed to sell them a product that will “make them perform better”. But this has been done to mixed success. Products nowadays are not always what a runner needs, ‘want’ yes, but ‘need’, that is debatable?

With the advancement of technology, some products have been created to supply a demand when there is no real need for it and it has had the effect of separating the running collective into a diverse and often split set of communities. Those that are loyal to, and the ambassadors for, a specific product or brand.

With the changes in brands, comes the inevitable changes in the retail landscape and this over the last 25 years has also altered extensively. The retail landscape has now becoming a multi-channel environment where retailers and e-tailers alike flow in and out of the retail space like moths in and out of a burning flame. Some have survived, others have crashed and burned leaving a nostalgic shadow in the history books. The specialist retail sector has had it tough since the recession of 2008 and has been ‘through the mill’. Well established business have become victims of the changes in retail and, in particular, consumer buying patterns and some have sought refuge in the form of buy outs, retail-model change or estate shrinkage. However, as is often the case, there have been long established and well-loved business that have fallen victim to the shift in consumerism and they have had to sadly close.

None of this happens in isolation though, it is announced to the ‘global running community’ together through the use of PR and promotion and ,in particular, the ever evolving platforms of social media marketing. Twenty-five years ago, it was all about print and flat copy, there was no such things as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. It was quarter, half, full or if you were really flush Double Page Spreads (DPS). This was cutting edge (yes I know) and if you got it right you could make your mark. As for the ‘Internet’, it wasn’t even on the radar and there was no such thing as e-commerce.

Move on a few years on and many retailers found that it all changed and those that were at the cutting edge of the ‘dot-com’ bubble they would be able to provide product faster, in wider ranges and in a way that meant that more turn over could be made with less effort and overheads. They had direct access to the buying public and brands also saw that direct marketing, using social media platforms would be a good way to spread their message. Consumerism really took hold and it played into what the brands wanted and in a number of cases what the retailers wanted. The question we have always asked though is whether it was all in the consumers best interest?

One thing for certain is that change is inevitable and unstoppable. As a retailer, staffed and owned by runners, we find ourselves on a never-ending cycle of invention and reinvention and we know we have to keep our heads. We have always tried to keep one eye on the horizon and an ear to the ground in terms of the ‘running market’ but this is a difficult task because as the market shifts and the cracks appear on what has been stable ground, we need to make a decision in what direction to move to continue to provide the service that has helped us not only survive but flourish over the last 25 years.

It is easy for a retailer to get caught in a dance between what’s new and innovative and what is tried and tested; as the market shifts, brands change and the consumer is sold ‘stories of exciting launches’ we need to gauge what is important. We also have to be careful about nostalgia as the past is the past and we have to be very present to what is actually ‘needed’ by the running community.

Our focus has been and always will be runners and the act of running. We are proud to be part of a much bigger machine that includes brands, other retailers, events, athletes and key media partners and now to be part of a new media publication in the form of Running Forum, we are keeping to that tradition of staying at the heart of running.

Running, is a relatively simple activity if you boil it down to its basics. It is one leg in front of the other, faster than a walk, and it is accessible to most people. If we all keep this in mind and focus on the act of running then we should be able to service the runner better. That is not to say that gizmos and gadgets are not fun, exciting and could well get you a PB. But when a runner is stood on top of a hill, covered in mud, heart pounding and sweat dripping from their forehead, and they state to themselves “this is why do I do this”. We need to tap into the same visceral emotion. Running is much more than any one of the elemental parts listed above. We are part of a much bigger movement and this fact is something Up & Running reminds itself of every day.

Up and running’s top picks for AW18

 

Aftershokz: Trekz Air


Next generation bone conduction technology delivers music through your cheekbones, ensuring ears remain completely open to hear ambient sounds.

ASICs: Dynaflyte 3


The next evolution of ASICs’ unstoppable range. Faster, lighter, more durable than ever before, the DYNAFLYTE 3 still comes with the iconic ASICS GEL cushioning.

Brooks: Levitate 2


Tap into your own endless energy in the new Levitate 2. You might find more miles, more speed, or more fun. You’ll definitely find more energy.

Garmin: Fenix 5 Plus


For athletes and outdoor adventurers, the watches of the fenix 5 Plus Series are the high-performance way to beat yesterday and bring your maps and music along.

Groundhog: Super Cushion Sock


Made from a superior cushioned material that wicks away sweat and helps keep your feet comfortable and padded.

Hoka One One: Clifton 5


True to its award-winning heritage, the Clifton 5 is light, cushy, and very, very fast.

On: Cloudace


Superior cushioning doesn’t have to mean slow. Soft landings thanks to their Zero-Gravity heel Clouds, combined with a powerful pushoff thanks to their rubber forefoot Clouds.

Saucony: Ride ISO


With the perfect balance of cushioning and responsiveness, this neutral running shoe is designed to run like a dream.

Up and running’s what to look out for in SS19

 

Mizuno: Rider 22


Designed to keep comfort and cushioning levels up, and temperature levels down.

Altra: Escalante 1.5


Fast and lightweight road shoe which is responsive to the ground, yet offers the runner cushioning and a comfortable fit. A great choice for elite runners.

Brooks: GTS 19


Brooks legendary shoe just learned new tricks. Their latest Go-To-Shoe now has holistic GuideRails support system plus soft yet responsive cushioning.

On : Cloud Waterproof


Stay protected against the elements in this lightweight waterproof shoe.

Brooks: Bedlam


For runners looking for a supportive energised experience looking for the most energy return of any leading performance running shoe.

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