The Running category is going to have its share of fireworks in 2009. For starters, Under Armour is making a big push into the space – and my strong view is that UA will succeed. The company is going in at price points averaging around $90, which is at the very high end of what runners will pay, and they’re going about the R&D and marketing in all the right ways. Huge opportunity for UA given that this is a $5bn category at retail. Nike owns this category with 65% share, and the next largest brand (Asics) at 15%. Past that, there are several more brands that bring up the rear in the 2-6% range. UA is not even on the map. The consumer genuinely wants this brand to succeed. Don’t underestimate that. Every point of share is 3-4% top line growth to UA (not including running apparel). I still don’t see why this company cannot have 3-5% of the US footwear industry over 3 years, which alone grows UA by 2/3.
But what about everyone else? Asics and Saucony (owned by Payless) each garner over 80% of sales from running, and they’ll put up a fight. New Balance is 32%, and will put up a fight as well. This is not to mention brands like K Swiss that are growing into running, and Nike that will defend its turf at all cost. The big loser? I’d hate to be Adidas/Reebok. I personally think neither stands a chance in the US next year. They’re not proactively managing for the tail risk we’re likely to see.