PUMA Enters CrossFit Market with New Training Shoe
This week, PUMA will join the world of strength and high-intensity fitness with their first-ever training shoe, FUSE. In line with the footwear launch, the brand has announced partnerships with three organizations – The OUT Foundation, AfroBrutality, and Barbells for Boobs – to support their work creating inclusive, positive communities.
The big picture: This release makes PUMA the fifth major brand to target the strength training community, following the lead of Nike, Reebok, UnderArmour, and inov-8. It proves that CrossFit is a market worth fighting for. These companies are in, as a Bloomberg article aptly calls it, “a war for your feet.”
- Reebok, the first company to tap into the CrossFit world, is now getting ready to release the Nano X1, the eleventh shoe targeted directly at CrossFitters.
- Reebok was making its fourth iteration of the Nano by the time Nike entered the market in 2015, according to Bloomberg. But, based on data from their not-so-scientific survey (they polled members at five different affiliates), Nike Metcons – the most recent release the Metcon 6 – were already taking over half of the athletes’ feet.
- Inov-8 says sales began to take off when a mountain running shoe was adopted by the “cross fitness community.” Since then, they have signed CrossFit athletes Dani Speegle and in 2019, Scott Panchik.
- The success of targeting the CrossFit market can be plainly seen in NoBull. The small sneaker brand has had immense success since launching the trainer in 2015, now partnering high-profile athletes like Tia-Clair Toomey and Brooke Wells.
The partnerships: PUMA has picked a diverse group of CrossFit organizations to partner with during their launch: AfroBrutality, created to battle the diversity issue in CrossFit, The Out Foundation, designed to support members of the LGBTQ+ community in health and fitness, and Barbells for Boobs, providing education and support for those impacted and at risk for breast cancer.
- “They all are true leaders and motivators and we’re proud to be supporting their missions and efforts,” said Allison Giorgio, VP of Marketing at PUMA North America in an email.
The partnerships with each organization will not look the same.
- PUMA describes their work with AfroBrutality as “supporting various causes through cultural moments, events, and more;” Syn Martinez, owner of AfroBrutality says they’re planning apparel releases during Black History Month and on Junteenth, and “try to expose as much authenticity and culture as we can.”
- Through their partnership with The OUT Foundation, The OutAthlete Program, Powered by Puma has chosen 12 LGBTQ+ young adults to receive fitness memberships, providing year-long gym memberships, nutrition coaching, and more.
- Supporting Barbells for Boobs through events and competitions, PUMA will partner with the organization on an October Breast Cancer Fundraiser.
Worth noting: PUMA wasn’t the first company to approach Martinez. Martinez, the owner and coach at CrossFit Harlem from 2009-2014, said he’d been approached by Nike once or twice, but they always wanted one thing: for him to change the name of his business.
- “The way that PUMA approached, they took me as the loudmouth, they took me as the screamer, they took me as the guy that curses everyday, they took me as is,” Martinez says. His Instagram account and brand, where he says he “coaches the world,” use imagery and curse words to convey motivational messages.
It’s been a point, Giorgio says, for PUMA to “maintain a strong level of collaboration” between brands.
Martinez describes his partnership with PUMA as “them listening to me.” His upcoming apparel releases reflect a 60s, 70s, and 90s retro vibe “right from Harlem,” which Martinez hopes will help him reach a younger generation of athletes. They won’t look at his brand and see professional athletes, they’ll “see themselves.”
- “When people see the designs and stuff we’re doing together, they’re gonna to be like, damn. They really let this guy do what he wanted to do,” Martinez says. “It’s super tasteful and very creative, but speaks to a new language.”
- Martinez adds that his partnership with PUMA targets a community he’s “never really marketed to – really, the local Harlem community.”
The bottom line: It’s the partnerships that will make PUMA a real player in the strength-training game.
- “When entering this category, it was important for PUMA to partner with powerful voices within the fitness and CrossFit community to connect with our consumers in a more meaningful way,” said Giorgio.
- “As a brand one of the best things we feel we can do, is support these existing communities and build great product that is ready for the elite or everyday athlete.”