What if everybody ran?
That’s the question Mizuno Running recently asked MBA candidates at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School.
The athletic brand and UNC used exercise reports compiled last year by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention as the launch pad for a month-long analysis of U.S. Census data and other studies examining health habits, relationships and the economy.
The CDC data revealed that 80 percent of Americans lack regular exercise routines, although there are 30 million runners in the U.S. That led Mizuno and UNC on a quest to discover what could happen if all Americans were runners.
“Runners understand and see first-hand the positive effect running has on their lives,” Fritz Taylor, VP and GM of Mizuno Running, said in a statement. “Knowing the effect of running on our lives, we couldn’t help but wonder what the macro impact would be if more people started adding running to their lives.”
Some of Mizuno and UNC’s findings suggest significant societal effects: $130 billion would be saved in health care; the national GDP would increase of more than $47 billion; total weight loss among Americans would be nearly 2 billion pounds; household earning potential would rise by 10 percent; and hospital visits would be reduced by 5 million.
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“There have been a number of studies done over the last few years that UNC students pulled together from reputable sources [such as the CDC and the U.S. Census], measuring health habits in relation to the economy and so forth,” Taylor explained to Footwear News. “But no one said, ‘Let’s extrapolate that out and take up running for every American’ — until now.”
The results of the analysis were eye-opening enough for Mizuno to launch its multiphase “What If Everybody Ran?” marketing campaign, which will be featured at the microsite Ifeverybodyran.com and updated throughout the year.
Mizuno hopes its inspirational campaign translates to its product, starting with its 2014 line of lightweight running shoes and apparel. “We wanted to create shoes that disappear to maximize [a person’s] running experience, especially if they’re doing so for the first time,” Taylor said.
Mizuno also collaborated with Runner’s World magazine to develop starter kits for new runners. Consisting of shoes and apparel, the kits, called Mezamashii — the Japanese word for “brilliant” — should be available this summer at specialty stores. More details are forthcoming, Taylor said.
Another key component of the campaign is Mizuno’s work with Back on My Feet, a national nonprofit that uses running to lift homeless people out of poverty and encourage self-sufficiency.
“The success rate they have is amazing,” Taylor said. “We’re doing a virtual relay of sorts, where runners around the country track their times with those in the program.”
“We witness the positive impact running has on the individual daily at our 5:30 a.m. morning group runs,” added Mary FitzGerald, CEO of Back on My Feet. “We applaud Mizuno for commissioning this study, as the tangible evidence proves running’s power is undeniable. The Mizuno campaign and analysis clearly add greater context to the personal transformation we work to bring about through running.”