At $150 a pair, Reebok’s Floatride Run is one of the sneaker brand’s most expensive running shoes. But despite the cost, Floatride in just three months has become Reebok’s highest-rated and No. 4 best-selling sneaker on the company’s website out of more than 830 shoe products. Reebok has a network of 1,200 running experts to thank.
The running category hadn’t been a priority for the Adidas-owned Reebok for around seven years. When Reebok planned to introduce Floatride — billed as its first lightweight, long-distance running shoe to feature a proprietary form of technology — the biggest challenge was to build credibility with runners, according to James Woolard, brand director for Reebok.
“It is a tough sell when consumers don’t think that we have history in offering cushioned running shoes,” said Woolard. “We believe that consumers increasingly trust third-party [reviews] when it comes to the performance of your product, which drives us to invest in influencer marketing and the effectiveness of our products.”
Woolard’s team approached influencer marketing differently than most retailers. Instead of asking celebrities or content creators with big social followings to post how great Floatride was, Reebok worked with retail marketing firm Experticity to let about a 1,200-member group including sneaker salespeople and running club instructors sample the shoes for free. Then it collected their reviews through review software platform Bazaarvoice before the product launch. Reebok didn’t pay extra for positive product reviews; the only compensation was free sneakers.
“Influencers [is] a broad term. For us, they are not just people with 100,000 followers on Instagram. Instead, they are experts in the running field who work at a local footwear store or participate in a running club, for instance,” said David Pike, associate manager for Reebok. “Influencer marketing is hard to quantify, but product reviews are tangible. When…