The Freestak team have looked at key trends across running and social to see what’s sticking out to us the most. Have a read of our favourite 9 trends below.
TREND 1: UNSANCTIONED RACING
The running culture movement is becoming increasingly more popular, with major run brands starting to sponsor associated crews in the unsanctioned space and well known run brands getting involved with global virtual unsanctioned race events.
TSP DIY X KRAFT RUNNERS
The Speed Project, traditionally an ‘unsanctioned’ Race in the US, with no permits and self supported by entrants, created TSP DIY during the first year of lockdown – a 30 hour team global virtual team relay race.
This style of racing is integrating more into EMEA culture. As an example, Kraft runners (a German run club) were one of the biggest European teams to enter this year’s virtual TSP. They took to the streets of Berlin to race around Adidas headquarters, live recording and commentating on the event via Instagram to their 17,000 followers. Kraft had six teams enter in Germany and came in 2nd place overall , which shows the popularity of this virtual event.
Globally, TSP DIY had over 300 teams enter from 40 different countries which really shows the appetite for unsanctioned racing.
TRIALS OF MILES X TRACKSMITH FKT CHALLENGE
Pop up virtual events are providing more opportunities for brands to align with the unsanctioned street race movement.
Such as Trails of Miles Racing FKT Challenge, which encourages inclusive healthy competition in local runners around cities by allowing anyone to turn up at any point to get involved by tracking their run in order to enter.
Virtual racing in general is becoming attractive for even bigger event companies such as the London Marathon who saw 24,000 global virtual entrants this year.
TREND 2: BRAND COLLABORATIONS
Running brands are collaborating in all types of spaces from events, music and publishing to cross over audiences and reach new pools of consumers whilst creating an exclusive edge.
LULULEMON X TAKE THE BRIDGE
Mainstream brands like Lululemon are aligning with ‘crit style’ street events such as Take the Bridge, by partnering and creating a line of co-branded exclusive kit, rather than actually sponsoring physical events. This removes the risk of popular sports brands getting penalised for being held responsible for underground local events which may not have the correct legal permits to go ahead officially.
SATISFY RUNNING X RUNNERS WORLD
Satisfy Running have positioned themselves as the anti establishment brand, by associating themselves with ‘punk’ runner influencer profiles alongside creating a capsule collection with Sonic Youth a cult ‘punk’ band. However, recently Satisfy Running have created a kit collaboration with Runners World to re-position and associate the brand back with core runners.
TREND 3: BRAND EXCLUSIVES
Some smaller brands are creating niche member perks, accessible to paid membership holders only. This allows brands to engage more with their consumers and align their own brand narratives with cultural scenes, such as catering to specific sub-cultural intersections like punk/running.
SOAR MEMBERS RACING VEST, SATISFY POSSESSED MAG
Emerging brands are creating special products for audiences investing in their brands. This is a trend underserved by global brands such as Satisfy’s ‘Possessed Magazine’ which offers expert knowledge & experiences to satisfy consumers. Another example is Soar member’s limited edition racing vest.
TREND 4: FIRST MOVER ADVANTAGE
Even more running brands are cementing their roots into competitive UK racing scenes from an early stage, taking risks to support up and coming athletes with small follower numbers who may or may not make it to elite level.
SOAR RUNNING X XC UK RUN SCENE TAKE OVER
Soar Running took over the UK XC community by seeding athletes early with co-branded kit who are competitively racing in the local XC scene. For example, Phil Sesemann who Soar built an early relationship with, resulted in a big knock on affect of brand awareness for Soar from Phil’s performance at the London Marathon this year. (1st brit, 9th overall elite).
PRESSIO X TRACK & FIELD ATHLETICS
Pressio have positioned themselves as a more high end running brand only initially being available at luxury boutiques. Recently, we have seen them coming hard into the market by growing their budget in order to sponsor elite track and field athletes, such as those up and coming athletes making it through elite leagues like Jack Rowe (Elite 2nd Mens at The London Big Half).
TREND 5: BRAND-LED EVENTS
Brands are cultivating communities through events that have been setting the new post Covid running culture tone. Whilst utilising all content from events for social channels allowing brands to show off their involvement in Run communities.
ADIDAS, NIKE & NORTH FACE COMMUNITY RUNS
Brands are back raising awareness of product launches by activating physical run events and shoe trials. Such as the North Face Vective testing, Nike x Pro Direct Find Your Fast track event and Adidas community Runs and Shoe Trials.
These brands are utilising the expertise of professional coaches and athletes associated to their brands to educate their communities on how to improve run performance.
TREND 6: TRAIN-TO-RUN, RUN-TO-TRAIN
Covid-19 blurred the line between RUN and TRAIN when athletes began integrating other disciplines into their routine due to Covid-19 limitations and gym closures.
A study by RunRepeat found that 49.9% of gym members say outdoor exercise (which includes running and hiking) is their best way to achieve their fitness goals in 2021, this is a 39.4% increase from the start of 2020.
Conversely, the trend in at-home fitness equipment rose by nearly 50% in runners, with 13% of respondents saying it was their preferred way of exercising.
RunRepeat surveyed 3,961 current runners to investigate how many began during the pandemic, this showed that outdoor activities like running were the #1 trend in 2020 and 2021, increasing significantly over the year. With more than a quarter of runners having begun during the pandemic, the “average runner” has changed. From their motivations to their race participation and preferences with 28% of runners starting during the pandemic.
TREND 7: SHORT-FORM VIDEO
Instagram announced Video as one of three key focus areas for them – alongside shopping and Messaging. Video is more personable allowing creators to humanise a brand and create deeper connections with consumers.
IG will be introducing new in-app features developed specifically for branded content partnerships including: Shops for potential affiliate creators and the ability to boost branded content posted in feed, Stories and Reels right from the app. YouTube has also introduced YouTube Shorts which jumps on board the short-form video trend.
Short form video works well for branding hashtags. As an example, mattress manufacturer Simmons teamed up with TikTok creators to launch a hashtag, #snoozzzapalooza, which received 6B views and a 107% boost in site traffic.
Video generates more interactions and shares giving it a longer shelf life. Educational videos seem to work best for runners & fitness influencers on IG gaining the most saves. IG Reels have been proven to grow influencers’ followings the most.
Video favoured by TikTok & YT shorts algorithms allows more exposure for content creators and influencers.
TREND 8: MULTI-PLATFORM
TikTok’s algorithm for surfacing short-form videos will know the user extremely well, increasing the probability of any influencer’s content going viral, regardless of his/her number of followers.
16:9 vertical format is the most widely used on IG allowing to publish content cross-platform. Video performs best with algorithms like TikTok & YT Shorts allowing more exposure for content creators and influencers.
Video works well with Gen Z, 49% of TikTok users purchased a product after seeing it on TikTok. Showing ads feels more organic to this generation in this format, and Gen Z appears to welcome even sponsored content within the platform.
TREND 9: MICRO-INFLUENCERS
Micro influencers have established authentic relationships with their audiences. When micro-influencers work with brands and products they believe in they are likely to provide a more engaging commentary which their followers respond well to providing brand credibility.
We can see large brands still working with celebrities to spread a message, though this costs a fortune. Smaller businesses have learned that influencer marketing can give them better results – in particular by working with micro-influencers.
Nano to Micro influencers maintain the highest ER allowing brands to stretch influencer marketing budgets. Brands are also still working with influencers deeply connected to their audiences who help tell the brand’s narratives as natural storytellers.
Nano and micro-influencers typically focus on a more targeted niche and know a lot about particular topics and products or are at least prepared to share what they do know helping others learn with them. Brands have learned that one of the best forms of marketing is to let the influencers tell the brands’ stories, which is what we do best at Freestak.
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