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Case Study: The Running Room

The Running Room is a successful retailer specializing in running shoes and running apparel for serious Canadian runners. From a standing start in 1984, the company now has 47 locations coast-to-coast and 2 outlets in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Frustrated by the poor quality and low level of service in chain stores that sell running shoes, entrepreneur John Stanton took action. His plan was to fill a niche in the marketplace by opening a small one room store in a renovated living room of an old house in Edmonton—hence the name “Running Room.”

Stanton built the business around three key marketing principles: product innovation, quality, and staff knowledge of the primary sport they were appealing to. The sales staff in each store is comprised of people that participate in running—they can directly relate to the exact needs of their customers because they are running on the same roads and trails. The products they carry have been designed and tested to meet the unique needs of serious runners. Despite intense competition from much larger companies Running Room sales have reached $40 million annually, an average of about $816,000 per store.

Marketing Mix

Stanton’s operating philosophy spills over to all elements of the marketing mix. The core customers are basically divided into two groups: stressed-out thirty-something professionals and baby boomers. The thirty-something target is trying to stay in good mental and physical shape. The baby boomers are a huge market segment that is becoming increasingly concerned with heath and wellness as they age. These target markets lead an active lifestyle—with their running members eating well-balanced meals and training faithfully for running events. To them, the training process is not a grueling endeavor, but rather a form of relaxation—a stress busting experience.

Product

Running room offers a full line or running and walking shoes and a highly successful line of...
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