As CrossFit’s growth continues to skyrocket in the fitness community, so is Reebok’s market visibility for cross training shoes and apparel. The shoe company snatched up partnership and sponsorship rights to the CrossFit Games in 2010 and many of their ads over the past few years have embraced “alternative” fitness. With CrossFit and Reebok’s contract in effect for 10 years, its biggest competitor, Nike, was forced into the underdog role after a missed opportunity left the shoe giant out in the cold.
Reebok’s tactics of monopolization aren’t anything new to the major players in the sneaker industry. While the Vector may own a piece of the name and the actual competition and taken it away from the Swoosh, there’s no holding a good company down. Nike took its own cross training shoe, the Metcon 1, and created the “BANNED” version in an attempt to call out Reebok for its ban on competitors’ gear at any official CrossFit events.
The tag line to break into the CrossFit market is now “Don’t ban our shoe. Beat our shoe.” Brilliant. Except, Nike’s done the same at pretty much any sports event it’s ever sponsored. Pot, meet kettle. Nike’s initial salvo was followed up by making PE versions of the Metcon for CrossFit’s resident hot chick in Lauren Fisher. Reebok’s response? Addressing Nike’s bigwigs directly in a challenge to get fit:
Somewhat of a tame version of shots fired, but Reebok still failed to address the larger issue of the actual ban at the CrossFit Games. Why the hubbub over CrossFit? It’s a $4 billion brand. Enforcing a ban at sponsored events is just smart business. God forbid an athlete rocking a Nike shoe dominates the field. Or worse yet, an athlete wearing Skechers taking gold.
Chances are you’ll still see more than a few Nikes at CrossFit gyms worldwide though. All thanks to the social fitness factor, according to Forbes industry analyst Matt Powell.
Americans are working out in much different ways now. Gone are the days of visiting the gym by oneself, working out on equipment and then leaving without interacting with anyone. Today, fitness participants go to the gym to attend a class, be it Zumba or CrossFit or the myriad other class based regimes. Working out has become a social activity. And because of that, people are now concerned about how they look when at the gym.
No one wants to be THAT guy at the gym in a Kani jersey and wide-leg sweatpants. This is what Nike has left to bank on, after missing out on a colossal opportunity in the CrossFit Games. You never know when you might run into a dime hitting her personal best at the gym.
As the struggle for supremacy in the field of cross trainers continues with no end in sight, the big picture is that the consumer wins when there is market competition. In a category that has seen much stagnation since football exclusives in the ’90s, I’m personally looking forward to what other strides both companies will make to wrangle power away from the other.