By Laura Daues
Marketing: An Introduction – SCS 0978-114
Tamara Lang owns the store Runners World. It has been around since 1994 and
at that time she specialized in providing avid runners with the shoes and advice
that they needed. Having been a nationally ranked runner she had the
knowledge and experience to help make the business profitable, which it was for
the first five-six years. Sales have started to decline since then, and Tamara
attributes some of the loss to people learning that jogging is hard on the body,
especially the knees, and also people’s changing attitudes towards running
shoes as either fashionable or casual shoes. In order to try and keep money
coming in she has made a few changes. For shoes she mainly carries Nike, and
she now offers an assortment of running accessories in addition. Now Tamara is
debating whether there is a big enough market for her serious athletic shoes.
Tamara was right to enter into an industry that she knows; she is able to bring
very specialized products and services to her clients, and in the beginning her
strategy worked. She has been moving away from that and trying to compete
with chain stores like Lady Foot Locker and Wal-mart. Doing so has likely diluted
her brand, and customers are confused as to what the focus of her store is. Is it
high quality running shoes? Is it high quality active shoes? Or is it active shoes
and accessories? Customers who are in the market for high quality running
shoes now are unsure if Runners World is the right store to go to.
What Tamara needs to do right now is to reconsider her marketing mix. I would
suggest for her that she focus on running shoes for the committed runner, and
that she start to carry a larger variety of brands in order to cater to a wider range
of runners needs.
Product: Start carrying brands other than Nike and pick the best shoes. If she
wants to continue to offer some accessories I think that could be a good idea, but
she should focus on carrying items that you can’t find in other stores perhaps
higher end fashion or specialized running ware.
Target: Her target again should be serious athletes. I know in the case it states
that she is unsure about changing the name of her store, but I think at this point it
can do more good than harm to change it. The current store name has been
diluted and blurred; she won’t lose her very loyal customers as they are loyal to
her most likely for the service she offers them, not the name of the store. One
suggestion I have is to change the name to “Athletes Outfitters, or Runners
Outfitters.” It gives Tamara a chance to refocus her store and her store’s image.
Promotion: Runners Outfitters can sponsor a marathon in larger cities. In Toronto
for example, the store can sponsor the run which then creates a need for high-
level running shoes (if you want to participate in the marathon you will need
‘serious’ running shoes) and they will likely make their purchases at Tamara’s
store. She should also take advantage of the wellness boom and offer some
professional lead trail runs. In the store she could have a poster up on the front
door or near the change rooms letting customers know that every Thursday
afternoon people are invited to come out for a run guided along a nearby trail. It
will encourage a social atmosphere and promote a desire to buy new shoes and
wear nice outfits as you are going to be out with a group.
Price: Since Tamara is going to be moving back towards specialty running shoes
and specialty sporting gear the price point is going to be high. This way she is
saying that she is not directly competing against the chains and the discount
Distribution: Only have stores in major cities or places with an established
interest in running, as well as locations where the wellness boom is already
happening. By doing so Tamara will be maximizing her exposure to her target
audience; very interested-to-passionate runners who are willing to spend more
money on relevant running items. Major cities hold marathons so having stores
in accessible locations will benefit the flow of customers into the store.
A final note--it is important for Tamara to specialize or else she risks getting lost
amongst all the competition.