For New Balance, this meant tapping user insights in real time to build anticipation and sell-through for its Minimus line of minimal running footwear. We saw, in the minimal and barefoot running community, conversation and insight that was scattered across dozens of websites and communities. It was a fragmented conversation that New Balance had an opportunity to tap into if it could develop relevant content around which the community of runners could coalesce.
In the months leading up to the launch of the Minimus footwear, we developed an ongoing stream of content around the specific needs of the minimalist runner, and the ways in which those needs drove design and manufacturing decisions inside the New Balance studio. Ongoing involvement from the New Balance product design team added fuel to the fire: when members of the running design team chimed in on the message threads of a handful of articles, they were immediately met with questions and inputs from a community eager for specifics. Rather than shy away from sharing, the team embraced the interactions — agreeing to take part in a new series of Minimus-related content pieces that put members of the minimal running community in direct conversation with product experts, along with athletes like ultramarathoner Anton Krupicka.
The result was one of the most-successful product line launches in New Balance history, launched initially with only a minimal paid media investment; the most-read and most-commented pages on newbalance.com; sold-out shoes at running speciality retailers around the country; a product platform that was successfully rolled out beyond running and into other categories, and a big win with an influential group of customers.