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Study: Consumers Are Happier with Inexpensive Running Shoes

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RunRepeat, a free platform where runners and experts review running shoes, conducted a study that found that spending more on running shoes does not result in higher customer satisfaction.

Based on 134,867 reviews of 391 running shoes from 24 brands, the report compared the list price of running shoes with customer evaluations. The study found that inexpensive running shoes are, on average, actually better rated than expensive ones.

The top three best-rated brands were Skechers, Saucony and VibramFiveFingers, and the three most affordable brands were Skechers, Vivobarefoot and Puma. The three worst-rated brands were New Balance, Adidas and Reebok, while the three most expensive brands were On Running, Newton and Hoka One One.

In terms of styles, the 10 most expensive shoes had an average price of $191 and a user rating of 79 out of 100, while the most affordable shoes had an average price of $61 and a rating of 86. The top three most expensive shoes were the Nike Flyknit Air Max, Mizuno Wave Prophecy and the Asics Gel Kinsei, and the 10 most affordable were the Mizuno Wave Crusader, Nike Downshifter and the Nike Dart.

A potential bias of the study is the correlation between price and expectation of quality. If a runner buys an expensive shoe, he or she will likely have higher expectations for the quality of the shoe and therefore could more easily be disappointed. However, the list price should reflect expectations, and those who spend more on a running shoe should logically receive a better product, the report noted.

“We did this study to spread the word that ‘the higher the list price the more value’ does not apply to running shoes,’” said Jens Jakob Andersen, founder of RunRepeat.com. He added, “There is nothing wrong with a company selling premium running shoes, but in my honest opinion, it is a problem when a running shoe brand spends massive amounts of money on marketing to promote products consumers dislike.”

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