Sporting Goods Manufacturers

在文檔中 女生跑起來! 企業、媒體與路跑中的女性 - 政大學術集成 (頁 75-84)

4.2 Shaping Taiwan’s Female Road Running Scene

4.2.1 Sporting Goods Manufacturers

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understand how female road running has arisen. To do so, describing the relationship

between different road running actors is essential. In the next section, I will discuss how

sporting goods manufacturers, sponsors and media producers have constructed

Taiwan’s female road running scene together.

4.2 Shaping Taiwan’s female road running scene

4.2.1 Sporting goods manufacturers

Taiwan’s road running races have been more prevalent than ever since 2010.

Sporting goods manufacturers have led the growth in road running. As the two biggest

organizers of Taiwan’s female road running races, Nike and Mizuno both have different

plans.

Nike’s official website categorizes items according to different genders (men vs.

women). We can see that in the sporting market, Nike not only focusses on males but

also views the female market as an important sector in its global structure. Up until

June 2016, among the different sporting categories of merchandise, female running

shoes have been the only items to have exceeded the number of sales of the male

equivalent.10 This illustrates that the Nike series’ marketing strategy has aimed to

10Nike running shoes ratio 4:5 (male: female).

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encourage Taiwanese female runners to pursue their professional development, in order

to ensure consumers in the future female goods market.

In 2010, Nike caught on to the social media trend in Taiwan and launched its first

fan page on Facebook. Strangely, the only page included was Nike Woman, but no Nike

Man. This explains that Nike has been trying to attract more female consumers through

its social media presence. The requirements of running are low and the sport does not

imply much technique. It has therefore been seen as the best way for Nike to cut into

the female market, especially since it initially began as a company that produced

running shoes.

In the same year, 2010, Nike’s Taiwan Running fan page was founded. Social

media advertising continued with the smartphone trend, with Nike launching a series

of running-related online applications, such as the 2010 Nike+GPS, 2012

Nike+Running, and the advanced version called Nike+Training Club. This series of

Nike plus applications was repeatedly mentioned during interviews (interviewee RO1,

RO3). This proves that Nike plus online applications have been a key marketing

strategy for Nike in increasing the size of Taiwan’s road running population.

Nike plus online applications have made running digitized, cloud-based, and

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exciting. Whether it is recording routes, mileage, chasing records online, sharing

running pictures, or sending challenges through social media to friends to show concern

and motivate each other (Nike, 2015), running is no longer tedious. Through

independent online training courses, and road race strength being progressively

accumulated by users, Nike has also been able to obtain basic customer information

through online applications, such as running frequency and level.

The other organizer of female road running in Taiwan, Mizuno, is the largest

sporting goods manufacturer in Japan. In 1970, it set up branches in Taiwan related to

baseball, softball, and golf. Mizuno had a late start in running shoe products (Running

Biji, 2013a). In terms of its long-term sponsorship of Taiwan’s sporting events, running

has not been its main focus.11 However, Mizuno running shoes have fully functional

features and are favored by professionals and male runners. A running shoes survey

done in 2014 showed that Mizuno was crowned as the favorite shoe brand by most male

runners, who emphasized the functions of its running shoes (Running Biji, 2014).

Taiwan Mizuno’s official website uses sport categories and product features as

classifications, and has confirmed that Mizuno emphasizes functionality. The majority

11 According to Taiwan Mizuno’s website, it sponsored baseball, softball, volleyball, and golf for a long time.

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of its customers are male, except in swimming and jogging, where Mizuno offers

products for women.

In June 2016, the number of swimming suits and jogging shoes sold to men

exceeded those sold to females.12 In other words, Mizuno appears not to particularly

focus on women in the two sports. However, if the purchases of male consumers were

to remain largely unchanged, jogging shoes and swimming suits would be the only two

products that would increase in sales. Compared to swimming, running does not have

location constraints, has a high acceptance among the public, and is easier to propagate.

The manager of Delicacy Integrated Marketing (interviewee RO4) says: “Through

female road running, Mizuno was trying to begin communicating with those joggers

who had been doing exercise but not very professionally”. Therefore, the main purpose

for Mizuno in holding women’s road running was not for increasing the female road

running population, but increasing its sales of jogging shoes. This is also reflected in

Mizuno’s relatively passive pre-race marketing strategy. For instance, it provides no

pre-race training plans for women runners. Indeed, before Mizuno held its first road

race in 2013, there were only two road race seminars for women (Running Biji, 2013b).

12 Mizuno swimming suit ratio 2:1; running shoes ratio 5:3 (male: female)

“After communicating for a while, I will intentionally close the fan page because I do not want to have interaction with the runners. Then, when I notice the theme of the year, I will open it up again…..Basically, when the race has reached a certain point, I am no longer communicating with the runners”.

(Delicacy Integrated Marketing manager, interviewee RO4)

Overall, the different purposes of Nike and Mizuno in promoting female road

running has resulted in different pre-race marketing strategies (see Table 11).

Table 11: Purpose analysis of Nike and Mizuno in promoting female road running

Nike Mizuno

Main sporting sponsorship in Taiwan

Basketball, track and field Baseball, softball, volleyball, golf

Product classification on website

By gender By functionality

(except swimming, jogging) Number of running shoes

on website

Female > male Male > female

Marketing strategy before

Purpose of promoting Increase the participation Attract women who have a

13 Nike began its Nike Running Taiwan fan page in 2011. In 2012, Mizuno began its Mizuno Running Taiwan fan page.

female road running of women in road running, encourage runners to jogging shoes, in order to increase current product sales

After introducing a fun run in 2011, road running became a hit all over Taiwan.

The most well-known female road running races are still those held by Nike and

Mizuno in the two largest cities in Taiwan.14 To accompany its official races, Nike

pre-race training courses are only delivered in Taipei. Yet, Nike dealers also provide such

training, such as in the third largest metropolitan city, Taichung. In addition, a targeting

of urban women is evident in Nike’s premium services and Mizuno’s marketing strategy.

In 2016, Nike decided to concentrate its services on a card named the “Athlete ID”

(Zuka, 2016). Female runners could go to convenience stores where they would be

given a complimentary water or beverage, receive free products at cosmetic counters

or scan their card for restaurant discounts in Taipei. The premise was that these services

could only be accessed via smartphone QR code scanning. This scheme and the

selection of sponsors is an indication of Nike’s thinking; women runners are assumed

to have smartphones, live in locations with a high-population density, and have access

14 Taipei was the only place to hold female road races after Nike’s event in 2011 and Mizuno’s in 2013. In 2015, Mizuno spotted the potential of Taiwan’s south and added another race in Kaohsiung (林宋以情 Lingsong Yi-chien, 2015).

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to convenience stores and department stores. The process of exchanging premiums

makes women feel as though they are living in a high-tech city and want to explore it.

“I hope that sponsors can join Nike and help to create a great journey for women”

(director of Flight International Marketing, interviewee RO3).

The manager of Delicacy Integrated Marketing (interviewee RO4) reports that the

theme of the 2016 Mizuno female road running race was “Freedom”. This title implies

that Mizuno believes road running can help to release the pressure felt by modern

women. The event invited the fashion psychology expert Kao, Tsu-Ning(高祖寧) to

help arrange four colors for a de-stressing sportswear set. An official from Mizuno has

publicly stated that working women account for ninety percent of participants in female

road running. The problem of how to lessen a woman’s stress has become a main

concern for Mizuno (林宗偉 Lin Zong-Wei, 2016). This further confirms that the

sporting brand’s imagination of female runners includes the fact that they are located

in urban cities.

When it comes to age, Nike imagines female runners as “young and fast”, and

primarily still in the university phase of their lives. In a survey by 陳光宗 Chen

Guang-Zong (2014), it is found that of four hundred and twenty Nike+Running

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Taiwanese users, most are undergraduates under 25 years old. The director of Flight

International Marketing director (interviewee RO3) notes that Nike has intentionally

targeted undergraduates in their campaign.15 Women of this age are familiar with new

technologies, and have a strong consuming ability. Mizuno, on the other hand, is trying

to attract office workers of between 25 and 35 years old. It thinks that, given their

economic independence, these women can fill the gap in Mizuno’s running shoes

market (Mizuno, 2015). Mizuno’s previous marketing strategy was to bring sisters or

mothers out for a run on Mother’s Day. Thus, Mizuno’s imagined female runners would

seem to be older than Nike’s. Although there are slightly different imaginations of

female runners between the two sporting brands, their target audiences are both young,

successful and fashionable women. When it comes to sexuality, Nike and Mizuno also

share the same understanding.

Theoretically, only women can participate in female road races. However, as a

result of the urgings of sports marketing companies, males have been assigned a new

role: giving encouragement and support to females. Mizuno assigns eight to ten

handsome and strong men to stand at the side of the finish line and give high fives and

15 To do this, Nike has used various events, such as campus challenges, set points for free road races, university competitions etc., as well as other means of promotion.

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water to the runners when they finish. Mizuno calls these boys the “finish line boys”.

Nike has employed a similar concept in their races, with groups of men playing violin

on the track, or good-looking men waiting at the end of the race and giving out supplies

to the runners. In the last two years, Nike has also assigned male pacers to help adjust

the female runners’ speed. No matter whether they are finish line boys or male pacers,

both these phenomena point to the sporting brands’ imagination of the sexuality of

women runners.

Figure 8. Mizuno’s finish line boys Figure 9. Nike’s male pacers

Especially during interviews, sports marketing staff report that there are three

concerns while screening finish line boys and male pacers: appearance, figure, and

personality. According to my observation of female runners’ blogs and reviews, these

mainstream heterosexual women’s aesthetic. In the past, women have been the ones

objectified. However, roles seem to be changing in the present, implying women’s

empowerment.

Table 12: The way that Nike and Mizuno imagine female runners

Nike Mizuno

Age Under 25 25-35

Occupation Student Office worker

Residence Urban city Urban city

Features Strong consuming ability, intimate with technology

Economic independence, a focus on a product’s function

Sexuality Heterosexual Heterosexual

Motivation for running

Health, fashion Health, release stress

在文檔中 女生跑起來! 企業、媒體與路跑中的女性 - 政大學術集成 (頁 75-84)