The ‘soft sell’ on athletic shoes

April 2, 2018

While 67% of Americans own a pair of running shoes, we are not necessary all “born to run,” in the words of Bruce Springsteen. Based on findings of a poll conducted among 2,713 U.S. adults by Civic Science, and released on March 26, the majority of Americans who wear athletic footwear(40%) say that comfort is the reason.

Only 11% of respondents to the poll self-identify as runners, while another 4% told the researchers that “I want to start running.” Another 6% own a pair because “I like how they look for everyday wear.” And surprisingly enough, 32% eschew athletic shoes completely.

Of those who run already, or who are thinking about starting:

  • Men are more likely to be runners than women;
  • Those in the age range 35-54 are more likely to already run;
  • Respondents ages 18-34 are more likely to want to start running;

No surprises there, but when the researchers looked at those who own running shoes for comfort only, they found that these folks  are more likely than the general population to be:

  • Active Snapchat + Twitter users;
  • 34-54 years of age;
  • Owners of wearable fitness trackers;
  • Online bankers and video streamers;
  • Product reviewers and online researchers pre-purchase;
  • Influenced by social media;
  • Fans of music and entertainment TV; and
  • Owners (or wanna-be owners) of virtual reality devices.

Overall, the pollsters discovered, these comfort-seekers are tech-savvy individuals, adopt new products before others, and want to spread the word about said products. What’s more, nearly half of them aren’t keen on exercise—rarely or never partaking:

Another point of interest: 58% of runners (or those who intend to run) hit the pavement (or the fitness center) several times a week—but wear their running shoes for comfort at other times.

Finally, Nike is the brand of choice for those who desire comfort and style, rather than those who actually run. This makes sense to the pollsters, who say that Nike’s approach is to design for comfort and to appeal to ‘”sneakerheads.” However, those who loved Nikes the most in this poll actually were the wanna-be runners.

Research contact: mary@civicscience.com

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