America’s Post-Pandemic Spike in Online Demand for Running Gear

It’s time to lace up a new pair of running shoes and start stretching for Global Running Day! On the first Wednesday in June, Global Running Day is meant to inspire everyone from seasoned marathoners to casual walkers to get moving.

As the leader in global ecommerce acceleration, we’re constantly curious about the forces impacting shifts in consumer behavior. So, to celebrate Global Running Day, we decided to do a deep dive into the online sales for running gear to answer a few burning questions:

Key Questions about Running Gear Online Sales

  • When do running gear sales spike?
  • Which types of running gear and supplies see the most online demand?
  • Has COVID-19 impacted, positively or negatively, the demand for running supplies and gear?

To answer these questions, our data science team analyzed market demand for a range of running gear and supplies on Amazon over the past three years. A few of our key findings at a high level:

Topline Data and Insights

  • Demand for running clothing and accessories is highest during the holiday shopping season through the New Year
  • Running footwear experiences the highest demand during spring and early summer
  • COVID-19 has had a mixed impact on demand for running gear and equipment
    • Demand for clothing and accessories shot up in first weeks of lockdown in 2020
    • Demand for running shoes didn’t increase until 2021
  • Women’s running shoes and gear have experienced far larger increases in demand post-pandemic than men’s
    • Demand for women’s running shorts was up 305% in 2021 vs 2019
      • Demand for men’s was up 159%
    • Demand for women’s trail running shoes was up 262% in 2021 vs 2019
      • Demand for men’s down -9%

Let’s dig into the data.

When Does Demand for Running Gear Peak?

To start out, we wanted to see when Americans are shopping for new running gear like running shoes, clothes, GPS watches, hydration vests, and more. So we examined weekly demand for all related running categories and items in 2021 and the first few months of 2022.

To support New Year resolutions, demand starts the year somewhat high then dips in the early spring before climbing back up at the end of the year. January 2022 actually saw an all-time high for running gear, with even more people running into resolutions season

Running gear can consist of everything from new shoes, to shorts, to a shiny new running watch, so does all running gear experience the same seasonal demand? Let’s dig a little deeper.

Demand for Running Gear by Category

First, here’s a breakdown of which categories in our combined view held the most weight:

In 2021, running clothing saw the most demand of any running-related category in our analysis, with “running equipment” falling not far behind. Men’s running clothing and women’s running clothing also saw a ton of demand, so it’s likely the trendline in our first graph is primarily showing us when demand is highest for running clothing in particular.

We then determine whether some of these items are impacted by seasonal demand.

Demand for Running Gear–By Type

Let’s start by comparing changes in demand for different types of running gear and equipment:

Running shoes saw demand surge in early 2021, spiking in early spring and topping out in mid-April. So far 2022 has seen far less demand for running shoes overall, something we will investigate in a long term analysis later in this article.

Running clothing and running equipment see remarkably similar trends that, as we expected, match our combined view chart–demand increasing during holiday shopping and peaking in New Year’s resolution season.

Due to warmer temperatures and greater access to outdoor runs, as you might expect, hydration belts see demand peak during the early summer and drop significantly over the winter.

The priciest item in our analysis, running GPS watches and units, relied heavily on two promotional events–Amazon Prime Day, when demand surged by 71%, and Black Friday, which brought a 35% increase.

Running Gear Demand by Gender

Of course, as we saw in our analysis above, running gear is often split between men’s gear and women’s gear. So let’s take an even closer look by comparing some popular Men’s and Women’s categories, starting with types of clothing:

“Running clothing” as a general category for women and men alike both saw demand peak during the holiday shopping season through early January 2022. But when we drill into specific types of clothing we see clear seasonal differences.

Running shirts for men and women both see their highest demand levels in March and April. As for shorts, men’s shorts experience most of their demand over the early summer months, while weekly demand for women’s shorts has shot up to well over double the typical weekly average in spring of 2022.

Running Footwear Demand

Now let’s take a closer look at footwear:

Running shoes and socks of all varieties see very similar trends, with demand climbing steadily through the spring and into early summer before dropping to around average levels in the fall and continuing to drop over the winter.

Now that we have a general sense as to when different types of running gear experience the most demand, let’s look back even further to see what kind of impact the pandemic has had on demand for running gear.

Impact of COVID-19 on Demand for Running Gear

It’s clear there are significant seasonal trends when it comes to running gear, but one thing we noticed in many of the graphs above is that spring 2022 had a slower start than the same time in 2021.

That led us to wonder if 2021 was a particularly big year for running, and if that was something the pandemic might have driven?

Let’s start by examining the weekly demand once more, but this time starting in January 2020, starting with a view of all types of running clothing:

Demand absolutely skyrocketed shortly after the early lockdowns in 2020, increasing by 86% from the week of March 22nd to the week of March 29th.

Footwear didn’t experience the same type of surge, so it seems that most people who were looking to do more running in the early weeks of the pandemic felt they didn’t need a brand new pair of shoes to do so.

2021 catapulted demand for running shoes to new heights, perhaps driven by all the new runners who picked up the habit during the first year of the pandemic.

To get an even better understanding of COVID’s impact on running gear, let’s finish our analysis by looking back even further.

Impact of COVID-19 on Running Gear–By Type

Taking a monthly view allows us to go back even further, so here’s how each month compares starting back in 2019:

Here we see compelling evidence that the pandemic has driven long-term increases in demand for running clothing. The surge that came in April of 2020 bucked previous seasonal trends, and we’ve seen monthly demand stay above pre-pandemic levels for every month of each year since.

Running footwear, meanwhile, saw demand actually drop below pre-pandemic levels in 2020, then surge to all-time highs in spring of 2021. This gives further weight to our hypothesis that the early pandemic saw a lot of people stock up on running clothes and head out in an older pair of shoes. Then, in the following spring, enough of the new runners had stuck to it enough to invest in new running shoes.

2022 has seen demand remain behind 2021 levels, so it will be interesting to keep an eye on this trend as we enter late summer and early fall.

Naturally, we wanted to see if different types of running gear experienced different pandemic-related changes in demand.

Impact of COVID-19 on Running Gear–By Gender

Women’s running tights saw the biggest increase in year-over-year demand from 2019 to 2020. Women’s and men’s clothing accessories as well as women’s trail running shoes all saw demand more than double.

Again, not all types of running gear had a huge 2020, with women’s running skirts and shorts, mens running shoes and trail running shoes, and men’s running shorts all seeing annual demand drop significantly compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Next up, here’s the same look at annual demand during year two of the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic averages.

Demand for women’s running gear was up significantly in 2021, with demand for shorts up over 300% compared to 2019, while women’s tights and trail running shoes all saw demand up by over 200%.

While some men’s gear was also up (men’s running clothing and accessories in particular), our analysis suggests that women were far more likely to have picked up running during the first couple of years of the pandemic.

For a clearer picture, let’s wrap up with a closer year-over-year view of some of these categories.

Here we see just how much demand has surged for women’s running shorts over the past few years. 2021 brought big increases across the board, and 2022 has seen demand absolutely skyrocket to new heights.

Men’s running shorts also experienced a huge 2021 compared to 2019 and 2020. 2022 has also started strong for men’s shorts, and even though it’s nothing compared to the surge in women's shorts, it’s clear there are still plenty of new runners hitting the streets and trails this year.

And when we take the same look at men’s and women’s running shoes, we again see that women’s running gear has seen a much larger pandemic-driven boost than men’s.

Women’s running shoes saw demand in 2020 lag behind pre-pandemic levels, then 2021 brought a massive spring surge.

Women’s trail running shoes enjoyed even larger surges in demand, both in 2020 and especially in 2021. 2022 has also started the year strong suggesting this trend isn’t going anywhere.

This isn’t what we see for men’s shoes, though.

2020 saw demand for men’s running shoes drop in the beginning of the pandemic, and they’ve stayed there every month since, with 2022 bringing new lows.

Trail running shoes did see demand surge in 2021 after a particularly slow 2019, but only at levels that were around what we saw pre-pandemic. And once again 2022 has seen demand drop to new lows.

Finally let’s close with a look at the most expensive item in our analysis, GPS running watches:

2020 saw demand start the year off remarkably strong, then drop significantly in early spring and remain well below pre-pandemic levels throughout most of 2020 only surpassing pre-pandemic levels in October likely thanks to Amazon Prime Day being postponed to that month.

2021 also saw demand lag well behind pre-pandemic levels, and while Prime Day did bring a boost in June, it fell far behind the spike during 2019’s Prime Day in July.

Key Takeaways for Brands

Our data tells a complicated story when it comes to the impact of COVID-19 on running gear. It’s clear that many Americans stocked up on clothing in the early days of the pandemic. Demand for running shoes, meanwhile, didn’t really pick up until the following year, with women being far more likely to buy a new pair than men.

There’s also clear evidence that people weren’t really looking to invest in pricier running gear, for instance choosing to rely on older GPS watches, even though it’s clear that more people than ever are choosing to hit the roads and trails.

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how seasonality (weather and behavioral) and promotional periods (such as holidays) impact demand for their products on online marketplaces. Drilling into the details like location, gender, and price points provide specific action items for marketing and creative strategy.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.

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MAP Pricing vs MSRP: What's the Difference? (blog header)
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MAP Pricing vs. MSRP: What's the Difference?

“MAP” and “MSRP” are two of hundreds of acronyms floating around in the world of ecommerce, and they’re two of the easiest to confuse and misunderstand. While MAP and MSRP do play similar roles, they also have key differences that can work in tandem to support and protect your brand on marketplaces.

So what are MAP and MSRP and why do they matter? Here’s what you should know: 

What is MAP?

MAP (or minimum advertised price) is the minimum amount that a manufacturer or wholesaler recommends resellers advertise their products for. MAP pricing policy is essentially a one-way boundary you set to protect your brand, protect the margins of your resellers, and maintain fair competition across all of your distribution channels.

When setting a MAP policy strategy, remember the important things you’ll want your MAP policy to do are:

  1. Protect the interests of your brick-and-mortar resellers, giving them the margins they need to display and carry your product as well as sell it.

  2. Stay small enough that it discourages resellers from heavily discounting your products and keeps competition fair.

  3. Accurately reflects on the brand image and value you want to reflect.

“Advertising” and “recommends” are the key terms here. MAP policies should only recommend the price that is advertised online or in-store for a product, not attempt to fix the actual selling price of the product—that’s illegal—or recommend the actual selling price. That’s MSRP’s job.

Benefits of MAP

MAP not only keeps competition fair, but allows you to control your brand identity and promote consumer trust of your product and brand. Here are some of the benefits of having MAP policies:

  • Better brand protection and control

  • Creates a level playing field for retailers

  • Reduces bad customer experiences

  • Provides an accurate performance analysis

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MAP?

It’s critical that MAP policies are structured in such a way that a brand avoids violating anti-trust laws. One way brands can effectively enforce MAP is by simply monitoring online product prices across digital channels to identify fluctuations in the market. 

At Pattern, we help brands not only develop a MAP policy, but also enforce it. Enforcing MAP policies and gaining marketplace control includes finding unauthorized sellers, which Pattern’s data finds. Once Pattern finds the unauthorized sellers, Vorys eControls (Pattern’s legal partner) steps in and handles the takedowns of unauthorized sellers, continuous enforcement of brand management, and reseller policy enforcements.

What is MSRP?

MSRP (or manufacturer’s suggested retail price) is how manufacturers standardize pricing across their resale channel and determine what price is fair for their product. The key difference between MSRP and MAP is that MSRP is the actual price manufacturers set and recommend retailers charge for their goods while MAP is the advertised price. 

MSRP doesn’t necessarily have to be the final price of a product—it’s most often a starting price—but it is determined by taking into account all of the costs associated with the distribution and manufacturing process for a product and the margin amount resellers need in order to make a profit. MSRP also establishes value. For example, if a brand wants to build a premium brand, the MSRP can reflect the actual or perceived value of their product.

Benefits of MSRP

Setting up an MSRP for your product includes the following benefits:

  • Maintains brand equity

  • Establishes brand and product value

  • Standardizes costs across marketplaces

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MSRP?

Like MAP pricing, MSRP has to be set up as a one-way policy and not an agreement between a manufacturer and a reseller to avoid landing a manufacturer on the wrong side of the law. It’s a recommendation, not a contractual bind. As mentioned for MAP policy, Pattern helps brands effectively enforce MSRP with our proprietary data and expertise to protect their brand. 

How Do MAP and MSRP Work Together?

MAP and MSRP have different applications that may prove useful in different scenarios. For example, MAP policies are typically more useful in marketplaces where competition is fierce and price erosion happens easily if sellers are left unchecked. Ideally, however, MAP and MSRP are a dynamic duo that work together to serve the interests of your brand, support your resale channels, and protect your resellers.

Setting an MSRP establishes value for your product and lets your resellers know you’re serious about controlling channel conflict, maintaining pricing equity, and protecting their margins so they’re more confident setting pricing at the MSRP level.

MAP is the second half of setting a pricing policy. Setting a MAP price for your product, in addition to an MSRP, further standardizes pricing across your resale channel and gives legitimate resellers a fair environment to compete in while setting boundaries against unauthorized sellers harming your brand.

MAP combined with MSRP creates a stronger level of brand protection, giving your brand more sustainable, profitable growth.

Maintain Brand Control With Pattern

MAP policies can be tricky to draft, because there are so many legal lines to tiptoe around and so much nuance that goes into pricing. They can also be tricky to enforce without the right tools. At Pattern, partnered with Vorys, we have the tools and resources to help you maintain brand control on all marketplaces. 

As an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern can help you identify MAP violators and regain control of your brand online so that your image and your resellers are protected. To learn more, contact us today.

Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days
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Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days

Athlon Optics sells scopes and other optical accessories like binoculars for anyone who may be hunting, shooting recreationally, or competing.  After achieving significant success on Amazon, the brand wanted to launch on Walmart. As a growing marketplace with huge growth forecasts, Athlon saw their competitors already staking claim on walmart.com and saw opportunities for increasing their sales.

As a prestigious brand in its category, with loyal consumers, Athlon does so much with very few resources. With less than twenty employees in the entire company, managing everything from customer service to product development, their ecommerce team needed support to scale to a new marketplace.  And, they needed a partner who had a relationship with and deep understanding of walmart.com to accelerate their growth. Pattern is a one-stop shop for Athlon, providing the resources and expertise, so Athlon could also save budget and stop outsourcing so many different aspects of their marketplace business.

Athlon Optics Prepares for a Seamless Launch

Sometimes brands who transition from 1P to 3P with Pattern have no proprietary sales, marketplace data or content such as product images, video, or optimized copy. These circumstances create a more hands on transition for Pattern and may interfere with launch expectations. 

But Athlon was the consummate partner and overly prepared to transition to 3P– buttoned up, organized, and ready to take on walmart.com’s list of launch needs. Athlon provided all the required assets on time and was very organized.  The images were shot, formatted, and categorized as A+ content that Pattern ported over.  This process dramatically reduced wait times and lag times within the platform.  Plus, since the content was optimized for marketplaces, all images, copy, and listing information uploaded in the first pass. 

Pattern’s Walmart Expertise Leads to Success

But the content worked because of Pattern’s resources and marketplace expertise.  Pattern provided Athlon with a very clear outline of needs and expectations for seamless launch and this process has become a playbook for other brands on walmart.com.  The team’s mutual partnership and Pattern’s diligent follow up with and detailed attention to Walmart processes and logistics prevented Athlon from getting lost in the weeds. 

Three Days is All it Takes

The successful, thorough, and quick transition to 3P with Pattern secured Athlon most likely the fastest ramp-up periods for any brand on Walmart.com.  

Together we achieved success such as:

  • 'Best in class' turnaround–98% faster onboarding than average brand on Walmart.

  • First sale within the first week of landing at Walmart. 

    • Unprecedented turnaround considering the ramp up usually needed to gain momentum and traction with reviews on Walmart. 

  • Exceeded initial first month growth projection by 34%.

Athlon was so impressed by the ease and simplicity of its launch and execution on Walmart that the brand wants to grow our 3P relationship with other marketplaces such as Amazon Canada and Target+.

And, in the meantime, look out for Athlon Optics in Walmart Deal Days in 2022.  A huge win for any brand tied to organic advertising and new traffic opportunities across all media.

Pattern Helps Brands Expand Marketplaces 

Pattern has the 3P partner experience and deep expertise on Walmart and other global marketplaces to help a brand expand their footprint to maintain sales momentum and a competitive edge. Pattern, an ecommerce accelerator, takes on the responsibility of your stock and provides the expert resources needed to successfully launch and continue to grow your revenue on global marketplaces. 

Learn more about Pattern’s expertise and partnership on Walmart.  Contact us today.

Amazon A+ Content
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Amazon A+ and Premium A+ Content: Pros and Cons Brands Need to Know

Long gone are the days when Amazon listings were limited to a simple product description, five bullet points, and eight pictures. As the platform, and number of sellers, has grown, sellers have had to be more and more strategic and eye-catching to increase traffic and conversions on their listings.

Brands on Amazon have plenty of attractive options available to design their Amazon storefront, which reside in two of Amazon’s content tools: A+ Content and Premium A+ Content (or  A++ Content).

Here’s the pros and cons of brands using A+ Content vs. Premium A+ Content:

What is Amazon A+ Content?

Amazon A+ Content is a standard feature available to all Amazon Sellers and free as one of the many benefits of Amazon Brand Registry. 

With A+ Content, a product listing can have more than a plain text description and standard photo reel–it can include high quality multimedia photos and videos alongside eye-catching information to share the product story, and not just the product appearance.

Some noteworthy features that Amazon A+ offers are:

  • Multiple, varied images of a product

  • Strategically concise introduction

  • Video

  • Bullet points

  • 360° product views

  • Matrix comparison charts

  • “What’s in the box” section

What is Amazon Premium A+ Content?

Amazon Premium A+ Content, or Amazon A++ Content, is a tool that goes a level beyond basic A+ Content, giving brands the ability to showcase their product’s most important features and benefits with a modern, visually appealing structure. 

In August 2022, Amazon announced Premium A+ would be available on Seller Central for free usage during a promotional period. Previously, Premium A+ content was available only by invite for brands using Vendor Central and could cost anywhere from $250K and $500K per product. 

With Premium A+ content, a brand visually communicates using imagery and video, and relies much less on text due to strict character limits for product descriptions. According to Amazon, implementing Premium A+ content can increase your sales by 20%.

For the first time ever, Premium A+ expands the usable real estate of the page, using the entire width of the screen for a sophisticated and modern feel.

Some noteworthy features that Premium A+ offers are:

  • Video

  • Full-width imagery

  • More space

  • Clickable Q&A

  • Interactive comparison charts

  • Carousel modules

  • Mobile-friendly and voice-friendly product pages

  • Testimonials

Pros and Cons of Amazon A+ vs. Premium A+ Content

Although their purposes are similar, there are some key differences between A+ Content and Premium A+ Content. Here are the pros and cons for each tool:

Basic Amazon A+ Content

Pros:

  • Free and unlimited use for all Vendors.

  • An effective tool to enhance customer experience and product listings.

Cons:

  • Less features than Premium A+.

  • It's not as visually appealing as Premium A+.

Premium A+ Content

Pros:

  • There are 16 extra modules to choose from that are media-rich and make an impact.

  • You have two more available module slots than Basic Amazon A+.

  • Overall, there are more possibilities for hyper-engaging content.

  • You can expect a sales rate increase of up to 20% with Premium A+, according to Amazon.

Cons:

  • Amazon has positioned Premium A+ content as more of an exclusive tool, requiring eligibility based on past content to qualify for Premium A+ content. 

  • Character limit restrictions are more strict than Basic Amazon A+.

Elevate Your Amazon Content with Pattern

Ultimately, both of these tools exist to help you and your brand provide customers the best online shopping experience possible. Although Premium A+ offers plenty of exciting new options for enhancing customers’ buying experience, it may not be for everyone. Optimizing your Amazon listing with A+ or Premium A+ Content can provide the best opportunity to build a strong reputation for better brand-recognition and customer affinity. 

Our creative and digital marketing experts at Pattern can help brands use A+ Content and Premium A+ Content to increase conversions and give buyers an amazing experience.

Learn how Pattern can help you increase conversions on Amazon. Contact us