Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Open Letter to New Balance

I have debated for a long time about writing this report and I finally have time today to do it. I am writing this to vent my frustration with the New Balance corporation and how they handle some new shoe releases. I highly doubt that anyone from New Balance will actually read my blog, but this is more for me and my own piece of mind.

I for one, like good friend TZ, like shoes. I am very particular on which ones I run in since I had a bad case of PF that put me out of commission for over 6 months. I switched over to minimalist shoes since the injury, sans Anton, and I have been very careful on which shoes I pick. I do not want to repeat being injured again and running this way has kept the lions at bay.

So, when I find something that works, I like to stick with it. Trail shoes are very tough to find that are not beefed up and have a hoof under the heel. They are usually way too heavy and padded for my liking. Thank God that people like Anton have been involved with shoe design for awhile and helped to usher in a new revolution of lighter, more responsive trail shoes. The book, Born To Run, which I have reviewed in the past on this blog, also has helped keep the trend going. When New Balance came out with the MT 100's, I was ecstatic, as were others in the Trail and Ultra community. I had been running in the 790's and was happy with them until they discontinued them and made the switch to the MT 100's. I had been through a couple of pairs of them and decided it was time to purchase a new pair. I went to the local running store in August to be told that the shoes had been discontinued and were no longer available. OK, what about the new MT 101's? They will not be out until mid-October? What? Who in Corporate made this decision? I have been in business for a long time as a Manager in the Food Industry and now in Banking and you do not get people to buy your product and then discontinue it before you have something to replace it with. That is not the way to keep people loyal to your product. That is why QT every summer lowers its price on fountain drinks, so that you will get hooked on buying them and hope that you will continue once they lift the sale price. Good marketing. Whoever is making these kind of decisions at New Balance needs to maybe spend some time at QT and other places like Wal-Mart to see how to effectively handle sales and marketing.

I have been a loyal New Balance product consumer for quite some time.
I went through at least 7 pairs of the 767 AW when I was racking up high mileage. These obviously have become mowing shoes.
When they discontinued the 767, I switched to the 768 AW and went through at least 3 pairs.
When I injured my foot with PF, I switched over to the 790's and went through 2 pairs.
When the 790's were discontinued, I made the switch to the MT 100's and managed to run in a couple of pairs before they became unavailable. I do not understand the logic in this. This is not like the anticipation before Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad.

To top it off Runners World Magazine did a short blip about the new 101's in the October issue on page 119. Also, the October issue of TrailRunner Magazine did a little bit better review on page 56. Really, you can throw the teases out in the magazines and not release it to the public? This is what drives consumers to other products. I heard from a friend during a long run last Saturday that he talked to the NB rep and they said the new 101's may not be out until November. What????
I am perplexed as I look in this photo. This was right before the start of the Rocky Raccoon 50 miler this last Feb. and I was wearing the MT 100's and they performed well. It is too bad that New Balance has taken this kind of stance with their consumers. Maybe they have lost site of, if the consumers do not buy the products, then we don't get paid and I don't have a job. Maybe it is time to change things up at New Balance and add some fresh blood to the mix. All I know is, this is not how to run a business.

So for me, I may hold out for the 101's or I may check into the Inov-8 X-Talon's. I hate to buy shoes I have not tried on, but they may be worth a shot. I have already made the switch on my road flats and I will have a review coming out shortly on a really neat and unique shoe with a company trying to make its way in the field.

Next up for me is the Tulsa Race for the Cure this Saturday. I really don't like the shorter, faster stuff, but I want to do well at the Tulsa Run this year. I would like to go sub-60, but I have got some work to do. This is just my 2nd week of a full run schedule and things are going well. I have reduced my cycling to once a week and I am running the rest. We will see where the chips fall this Saturday and see where I am. I will then probably do the Zoo Run 10K the following weekend. Life is good!

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