Vibram Case Study

2033 words - 9 pages

Introduced in 2005, the Vibram FiveFingers (VFF) shoe has become a highly visible figure in the world of athletic shoes and has gained a sizeable chunk of the minimalist shoe market. The Vibram FiveFinger Shoe was originally intended for yacht owners that wanted to maintain their grip on the deck without compromising the barefoot feeling. The VFF has gained many accolades since its inception one of them being Time Magazine’s best inventions of 2007. The shoe’s entrance into the world of athletic wear began when one of the CEO’s of Vibram America noted the FiveFingers had potential for a barefoot running shoe. (Vibram1) The market for the shoe now is now primarily aimed at people that are ...view middle of the document...

They are typically runners looking to improve their running times or an outdoor enthusiast who is looking for a quality shoes that fits well and is portable. Another group who looks to these shoes is people with various hip, knee, and foot problems (Owings, 2011). Many people have reported fast recovery from injury and less pain while running in FiveFingers. The FiveFinger is one of the most easily recognizable shoes out there and due to the patents (Image1) Vibram possesses; there are not many competitors for shoes with toes. There are however, plenty of minimalist running shoes that compete for the FiveFingers share of the growing minimalist market. These competitors will be addressed further in the paper.
In 2006 the FiveFinger line contained a Men’s, Women’s and Children’s shoe selection. Vibram sells the shoes by suggested use. The different uses are Fitness, Running, Multi-Use, Outdoor, and Watersport. Many of the shoes overlap when different uses are suggested, meaning that they have more than one purpose. The most popular styles of shoes are the Sprint, and KSO. KSO is an acronym for keep stuff out. These shoes can be used for running, walking, weight training, and many other activities. The children’s line consists of a sprint and speed selection of shoes. One is more of an everyday shoe and the other is more of an athletic shoe. The adult shoes range in price from $90-$110 and the children’s versions retail for around $60. The line-up remained the same up until 2011. In 2011 Vibram began to sell a “casual” version of the FiveFinger shoe. (Vibram) The company line on the new casual line is: “Wearing your VFF’s on a regular basis will allow you to experience the benefits of barefoot activities with the protection of our patented Vibram sole. So whether you’ve been pounding the turf, ripping turns on the mountain or ascending routs on an alpine wall, bring Vibram FiveFingers along for the after party. Your feet will thank you.” (Vibram1)
The shoes are currently still in the growth stage of product life cycle as their sales numbers have increased every year that they have been available. In fact, according to a recent article by Leisure Trends Group’s Run Specialty RetailTRAK, “minimalist footwear sales totaled $45 million through the end of October 2011, up 153 percent from $18 million during the same period in 2010. Meanwhile, traditional running shoes struggle to maintain sales and share with sales trending down across the first 10 months of 2011.” (Pang, 2012) There doesn’t seem to be too much slowing down in the minimalist shoe market as each year more and more Americans are taking up running and becoming more active.
The Vibram team uses a concentrated marketing strategy for their FiveFinger line of shoes. They market mainly to their target audience at events such as marathons, 10K and 5K races. They set themselves apart from the competition by positioning themselves to be the most unique version of any...

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