When you think about the sport of running today, what comes to mind? A 5K race, casual jogging, a marathon? What about when you think about the future of running?
With our experts being at the forefront of consumer buying behavior, we wanted to see where our community of nearly 300,000 running experts thought industry was headed in the next few years. So, in August 2018, we pulled insights from just over 500 of them.
The insights we captured came from a wide range of running experts.
- 46% of respondents work for a retailer like REI or Salt Lake Running Company
- 67% of respondents are an Industry Professional like an Outdoor Guide or Running Coach
Eddie works at Red Dirt Running Company and is an Active Running Coach. He has also run the Boston Marathon five times.
Tara is a former collegiate runner at Kennesaw State University and a retail sales associate (RSA) for West Stride Running Store in Atlanta, Georgia.
Expertvoice running experts include more than RSA’s and coaches
Our running experts aren’t only RSAs or coaches, they’re also incredibly active runners – whether it is road running, obstacle course racing, or indoor track running.
- 86% of our running experts currently run on roads as their main form of running activity
- 53% primarily run on trail
- 56% run 11+ miles per week. 17% of those running experts run 30+ miles per week.
- And 58% have been running for more than six years. Many have been running for more than a decade
As an expert – whether as an associate or a professional coach – they are often asked by friends, family, students, in-store customers for industry trends and advice on what running products to purchase.
In fact, our running experts make A LOT of product recommendations. 95% make a recommendation every day. Whether in-store, online, or on the track.
And retail experts are asked even more frequently for running product recommendations as they are the ones standing in front of the product and customers Every. Single. Day.
Consumers ask for advice on wide range of topics when they’re looking to buy a new running shoe or hydration pack.
- On average, 70% of associates are asked about the running gear THEY use when they run
- 67% are asked for product comparisons
- And 56% are asked for brand and product specifications
It is incredibly important that these retail sales associates are knowledgeable about the different running brands and have had first-hand experience with the running products they recommend to consumers.
Why is this important?
In an earlier research study, we found that 90% of experts say they must have product knowledge and 78% say they must have personal experience with a product to be able to recommend it.
So where do these experts, who are at the forefront of consumer buying decisions, believe the running industry is headed?
While only 53% of them are active trail runners today, in the next couple years, 89% of experts estimate their running regime will include … trail running.
67% indicated that it will be over HALF of their training regimen
That is a 68% increase from what they currently run today. As Angela Allen – an Outdoor Guide – indicated here:
“[The future of running will be] Forest trails and outdoor tracks in terms of where [we run]. Many cities are putting more effort to have large trails. Also there’s an element of exploration on a trail. Why run in place on a treadmill in a stuffy gym when [you] can get fresh air on a track or trail by a beautiful lake or other feature?”
So how will brands capitalize on the rise in trail running?
- Connect with experts like Eddie and Angela who make running product recommendations every single day
- Ensure associates, like Tara, are educated on the latest brands, trends, and trail running gear
- Build partnerships to seed trail running product to professional running coaches to ensure their recommendations are in lock-step with where the industry is headed
- Continually collect insights from both professional and retail running experts to not only stay up-to-date on the trends they forecast for the industry, but to ensure that you know how your brand is perceived by these experts
As trail running continues to grow in popularity, it is more important than ever to ensure your brand is top-of-mind with the experts who recommend brands and products.