Sales of lightweight athletic running footwear are soaring and continuing to grow. Year-to-date through October 2013, 30% of total performance running footwear sales came from lightweight running, which was up from 22% when compared to the same time period in 2012, according to The NPD Group.
Shoes are being redesigned to shave weight, remove excess construction, and focus on necessary elements needed in a running shoe. Innovation and a keen understanding of the target consumer have fueled the rise in the niche category.
“Innovation continues to set the pace,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group. “Consumers are looking for athletic shoes that will perform better than earlier models with a lighter, more comfortable weight. We have also noticed an attraction to brighter, bold colors. The lightweight shoe category is definitely growing faster than the running category overall.”
The lightweight trend is an evolution of the barefoot running/minimalist trend, which got its start with Run Specialty retailers. According to data from Leisure Trends, an NPD Group Company, minimalist footwear first gained traction at run specialty in 2008, enjoying several years of significant growth before catching on with the larger channels. Currently, those benefitting the most from the increase in lightweight performance running footwear are sporting goods stores and chains – more so than Specialty.
“While minimalist style shoes are losing momentum at specialty stores, they paved the way for the current lightweight trend.” said Cohen. “Sporting goods stores have an advantage over other channels with a breadth of assortments and a depth of inventory. Meanwhile, the more nimble specialty retailers are already looking for what’s next. Watch for innovations related to 3D printing and other technologies as the next evolution of lightweight in 2014.”
To learn more about athletic shoe shoppers, check out the AudienceSCAN report available on the Research Store at ad-ology.com.[Source: Research conducted by The NPD Group. 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 Jan. 2014.]