In an increasingly crowded minimalist and natural-motion marketplace, Merrell races ahead of the competition with the launch of a minimalist-themed microsite, www.Merrell.com/barefoot, to coincide with the release of its first barefoot collection. More than a simple product site, the colorful portal aims to be the go-to resource for runners just jumping on the barefoot bandwagon, with training videos and tips from the some of the sport’s biggest ambassadors and top experts.
“What inspired us what that there’s a lot of people looking at barefoot, and there seemed to be a lit bit of a gap in terms of educating people,” says Craig Throne, vice president of global marketing manager at Merrell. “We didn’t want people to go pick up these shoes and run 10 miles in them. You need to think about your form before you use the product; you need to run in a bareform manner. We felt it was a much smarter thing to do to educate the consumer.”
The company recruited minimalist running experts Walt Reynolds, a top trainer, coach and owner of NovaSport Athlete Development, and Jason Robillard, barefoot ultra marathoner and founder of the Barefoot Running University, to provide blog updates, training videos and how-to articles for the site.
“My primary decision to work with Merrell was based on their dedication to education around barefoot,” says Robillard. “To date, every other manufacturer of minimalist shoes has done a poor job of educating people about proper running gait when transitioning from traditional running shoes to minimalist shoes or barefoot. Merrell is the first to fill this education void, and I am more than happy to help them do so.”
This March keep an eye out for an iPhone application designed to introduce runners and outdoor enthusiasts to barefoot movement, including a mix of four training intervals with instructions on the natural way to run, plus a Merrell Barefoot iTunes mix that is based on the 180 beat-per-minute cadence of a natural running stride. —Audrey Goodson