SFIA Brings Home Key Takeaways from The Running Event 2018

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SFIA spent most of last week at The Running Event (TRE) in Austin, TX. After getting back, and having a weekend to let the experience percolate, there were many things to note.

Based on SFIA research reports, we know that running, which is always a popular form of exercise, has become even more popular over the last year. The surge in participation numbers is something to highlight, when Trail Running is up 6.6% and Running/Jogging is up 7.1%. To reinforce these statistics, attendance and exhibitors at TRE were out in full-force. With 200+ companies on the show floor, including many industry leaders, such as Asics, Brooks, New Balance, Saucony and Under Armour, there was also a strong presence of new brands and accessories.

In addition to the prevalence of running shoes and apparel, there were many more niche products on display, such as rollers, recovery tape, anti-chafing accessories and hydration products. To see these smaller products thriving in such a competitive space was a reflection of the growing need for non-traditional running products. It’s not so much that the runner is becoming more high-maintenance, but that the market is beginning to produce tools that runners didn’t even know they needed. Tools that improve one’s speed, endurance, comfort and recovery time, all making running that much more enjoyable.

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After spending long hours at the exhibit and speaking with other attendees, it was clear that Brooks’ success is headlining industry news right now. Another hot brand was ON Running — A Swiss running shoe company that is only 8 years old. The ON booth was noticeably turning lots of heads, as they are increasingly making a name for themselves in the U.S. market.

Another booth with a strong presence was Janji, a new brand determined to make a difference in the world. Just starting out in 2012, Janji made the global water crisis a top priority, as hydration is a concern many runners share, and dedicated 5% of all sales to their partners working to make clean water more accessible worldwide. As a common trend in today’s market, which heavily controlled by Millennials and Gen Z-ers, this business practice follows suit: Consumers are increasingly attracted to brands tied to a cause. And Janji is the perfect example.

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The North Face and other similar brands attended this year. This is something new and different for TRE, but it is also representative of the increasing overlap happening between the outdoor industry, which usually operates more independently, and the running industry. Trail running and off-road triathlons have been incredibly popular over the last year, experiencing average annual growth increases of 9.6% and 12.5%, respectively, over the last 5 years — And the market is responding. So many fitness activities are growing and evolving, and athleisure continues to dominate the market, so with that… We can guarantee you that there is ample opportunity for growth in the running market.

Many people may have noticed something different about this year’s TRE… In May 2018, Diversified Communications acquired The Running Event from its former host, Formula4Media. This change in management caused great apprehension leading up to the show, but it turned out to be a big hit. High foot traffic. Great displays. Notable exhibitors. Influential attendees… The list goes on, but we’ll stop there, and leave it at: We can’t wait for next year!

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SFIA is the leading global trade association in the sports & fitness industry. SFIA is the #1 source for sport & fitness research. More info at www.sfia.org.

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