More people have turned to running amid the escalating coronavirus crisis, whether its for fitness or a mental break — giving market leaders an opportunity to connect with consumers during a very challenging time.
But the right messaging is critical, according to Brooks CEO Jim Weber.
“We have to be very careful with our brand and our voice right now. Running has become an important part of people’s day because of this environment we’re in. They’re finding us and we’re finding them — but it’s not a megaphone right now,” the executive explained. “We’re trying to be sensitive of how people are going through their day right now, because some of them are struggling.”
Instead, Brooks is using its platform to direct traffic to local specialty run retailers.
“We’re firm believers that the local running shop is not going away. They’re community stores that are engaged and connected and create their own traffic, but right now they’re struggling to do commerce with their stores closed,” Weber said.
Below, the executive discusses the importance of the industry working together to get through this tough moment.
What is your strategy for this immediate moment and the rest of 2020?
Jim Weber: “That’s exactly the question we’re putting in front of ourselves every day here and we’re building tactical plans around exactly that. The health crisis is driving everything, it’s not in our control. So phase one, retail is closed, people are basically at home. This first phase is about hunkering down and getting through this. Essentially, the entire economy is going to have a two to three month pause. Phase one is going to be tough so it’s about managing cash and working with each other, vendors and landlords and accounts, to do what we can to delay requirements in cash because everybody needs to survive the best we can in this period. Because we’re so consumer driven the whole value chain and the cash cycle is frozen, inventory isn’t moving. So it’s about doing everything you can to stay engaged with your consumer. Some of them are buying on e-commerce and picking up in store, and everybody is getting super creative and savvy around that. We see phase two happening in maybe Q3 because Q2 is going to be tough. We think running is going to recover a lot faster and more completely than almost any other category in sport and lifestyle.”
What are you doing to keep business moving?
JW: “We’re most focused on not missing any demand from people who are ready to run and want to buy gear. We’ve got a fully-developed digital marketing capability, and we’re trying to engage with runners on a regular basis. We’re executing our own e-commerce business as well as we can. Also, what we’re doing through our local dot-com network is trying to push volume their way if people are interested in shopping local. We’ve been marketing this on our social media channels and seeing great response. We typically see 1,000 visits to our store locator on Brooksrunning.com a day, once we turned on this campaign to help drive customers to shop with their local retailers, we saw visits jump to over 9,000 in a day. It shows that the shopping that’s happening right now is happening digitally and a lot of them are doing curbside pickups, The shoe gets ordered locally and they set up a time to pick them up — and the shoe comes out for them with gloves and all the other paraphernalia that’s necessary right now.”