Nike's Big Miss: Run Clubs

Nike admits to underinvesting in the road-running scene at a time when run clubs are growing in popularity.
July 6, 2024
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people joining run club as a way to date

Run clubs have been around for two decades, but they are finally starting to appeal to the casual runner. 

Young singles are joining running clubs to find dates and make new friends.

Some run clubs have doubled or even tripled in size in the past year.

New Balance, Hoka, and Asics have field reps worldwide who regularly show up at run club events to let runners try new sneakers, give out free merchandise, and pay for drinks after the workout. On Running takes a similar approach but also started its own run clubs.

Surprisingly absent from most of the scene: Nike.

Nike used to have a stranglehold on the avid running scene but, in recent years has shifted its focus and investment to other areas of the business like increasing automation to streamline operations.

In an April interview, Nike Chief Executive John Donahoe admitted they underinvested in the road-running scene. Nike is missing the boom in running culture at a time when it forecasts 1% revenue growth for fiscal year 2024, and its stock is down more than 10% year-to-date.

The significant misstep could allow emerging shoe brands like Hoka and On to continue taking market share away from the sneaker giant.

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