Feetures!, the Charlotte, NC-based manufacturer of performance running socks, is on a mission to educate runners across the US about the importance of investing in quality performance running socks.
Feetures! President Hugh Gaither and his two sons, John and Joe, have relied on their own experiences as runners, as well as feedback from the running community, to identify the qualities of a running sock that runners covet most. The result was a line of technical running socks that offered compression and support without skimping on comfort, using innovative knitting techniques and Feetures!’ own patent-pending Sock Lock Technology to provide an unsurpassed fit, feel, and running experience.
Since its launch in 2002, Feetures! has established itself as a leading performance sock brand in the run specialty industry, with socks sold in over 2,000 retailers across the globe. As the company’s presence in run specialty retail grew, the Gaithers realized that the most effective way to educate the running community about the importance of running socks was to spread their knowledge from the inside out – which meant starting with retailers.
“When a customer walks into a run specialty store, their first instinct is to seek out an ‘expert’, or an associate who can give them advice on the best running gear for their needs,” said Joe Gaither, Feetures! Marketing Director.
“The better our retailers understand the benefits of performance running socks, the more information they can provide the consumer, resulting in a positive and mutually beneficial customer-retailer experience.”
To achieve this goal, Feetures! launched its ‘Pair Up’ promotion, which was positioned as a fun and exciting sales contest that would give retailers the tools to translate their knowledge of performance socks into better in-store experiences for themselves and their customers.
Beginning on 1 September, Feetures! challenged all involved retailers to sell one pair of socks for every pair of shoes sold in-store. At the end of the month, any retailer who had achieved or surpassed this 1-to-1 ratio would be entered to win a variety of prizes.
The store with the highest sock-to-shoe ratio and the store with the highest ratio percentage increase in each of four US regions were entered to win a random drawing for the ultimate grand prize, a trip to the NYC Marathon or Coachella music festival.
Additionally, each competing retailer designated one associate to be the official ‘Sock Star’ for its store. The Sock Star was responsible for educating other associates about the promotion, encouraging in-store competition, and reporting on weekly and overall sock-to-shoe ratios for participating associates and the retailer. Each Sock Star was put into a regional drawing for tickets to a regional rock concert.
Feetures!, which anticipated the involvement of around 200 retailers, received beginning and ending ratios from 261 stores.
Of those stores, 60% achieved a positive increase in sock-to-shoe ratios, and 26% achieved a 1:1 ratio or higher. Retailers attained an average of a 12.5% increase in sock sales for the month of September, and many have reported a continued increase in sock sales through October.
Other involved retailers noted that their associates, and especially the designated Sock Stars, ‘appreciated and utilized the tools provided by the program and were highly proactive in helping their store achieve a higher ratio.’
“Pair Up was a brilliant idea and a fun program that helped our staff get into the habit of offering socks and educating our customer base on the benefits of technical fibres,” said James McCanne, the ‘Sock Star’ from participating retailer Healdsburg Running Co. “It really helped increase our sock sales too!”
“The reaction we’ve received from retailers, store managers, and Sock Stars has been overwhelmingly positive,” note Joe Gaither at Feetures!.
“One of our big goals with this contest was to help educate store employees on the benefits of performance socks in a fun, creative, and motivating way. Based on the feedback we’ve received so far, I think we definitely accomplished that goal.”
For Feetures!, growing and supporting its community of retailers will continue to be a priority moving into the next fiscal year. Feetures! plans to run the ‘Pair Up’ promotion again in September 2016, and hopes to use what it has learned from this year’s results to make the contest even more impactful and achieve greater retailer participation numbers.
Regional store winners of the Feetures! ‘Pair Up’ sales contest:
On Your Marks, Eagle, ID
Fleet Feet Chico, Chico, CA
A Running Start, West Reading, PA
Foot Solutions Reading, Reading, PA
Fleet Feet Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge, LA
1st Place Sports – Town Center, Jacksonville, FL (Grand Prize winner)
The Human Race Sports, Orland Park, IL
Runner’s Forum – Avon, Avon, IN