The running boom is real, and Puma is looking to claim a greater stake in the market.
With this new push to ingratiate itself with runners, Puma has plans to continuously deliver fresh product and innovation.
“We knew we wanted to create an entirely new line of top tier products and technologies, so in order to start, we had to start by investing heavily in research and development,” Erin Longin, global director of the Puma running and training business unit, explained in a media event today. “We wanted to get up to speed on all of the latest biomechanics research, the latest technologies and innovations that were out there.”
She continued, “Puma is a brand that has a lot of great internal expertise, we have very strong performance design, development and innovation teams. But we also wanted to work directly with some of the leading biomechanics experts and testing facilities in the industry — and we are very proud in what we created.”
The German athletic powerhouse revealed several proprietary technologies today, including its most notable advancement: Nitro foam.
“It’s a new foam using a higher grade raw material and a better supercritical nitrogen-infused process that really gives us an incredible result,” Todd Falker, Puma running product line manager, said during today’s event. “The foam is about 50% lighter than traditional EVA foams, and we did that without sacrificing any of the responsiveness.”
Falker stated that Puma will use Nitro foam in all of its running shoes moving forward.
Also, the brand revealed its new rubber outsole compound called PumaGrip. “We found the perfect mix of durability with slip resistance — in fact, we’re 31% more slip resistant than any performance rubber that Puma has done previously,” Falker said.
These technologies will be used in a new five-shoe range from Puma, which has something geared toward every type of runner.
For instance, the Deviate is the brand’s pinnacle performance running shoe, which Falker explained is the key model in the brand’s running relaunch. The Deviate will retail for $150. And the Deviate Elite, which will retail for $200, is a racer made specifically for improved speed on race day.
These Deviate shoes also feature Puma’s new new carbon-fiber plate tech called Innoplate. “The shape of the rocker allows your foot to turn into a lever for a more advanced propulsion system,” Falker said. “You’re going to be able to run with less effort at the same pace, it’s really going to help improve your running economy.”
The remaining shoes are the Velocity ($120), which is made for cushioning and responsiveness; the Liberate ($110), which is the brand’s fastest option for short distance runs and races; and the Eternity ($120), which is built for runners in need of more stability and support.
The five-shoe lineup will hit Puma.com, the brand’s NYC flagship and select retailers — including an offering sold at JackRabbit — on March 9.
But the push to become a bigger player in run doesn’t solely rely on new shoes. Puma is also focused on addressing the needs of all runners, with an emphasis on women.
“More women are running than ever before. Two or 20 years ago, it was a male dominated sport — and it’s just not the case today,” Longin said. “Women are truly the new force behind running and we feel that they’re underserved in many ways. As we reset our running strategy, we have the unique chance to really focus on the female runner from the start. Our plan is to cater to women’s needs as we build and test our products, and also to support and elevate female athletes.”
Part of that focus will manifest itself in how Puma produces product, which includes building shoes on lasts that are designed to fit a woman’s foot better.
“We noticed that as of about 18 months or two years ago, more women than men were finishing races of all distance from the 5K up to the marathon. But for too long, from a product development standpoint, women have been a second thought,” Falker said. “Puma performance running is really starting with women from the first step in our process.”
He continued, “We didn’t just build product, but we’ve [also] tested it. We’re using four times as many wear test shoes as previously, and it’s tested over eight times as many miles — and the majority of that increase comes from our investment in women. Puma really is going to spark change by both providing an effortless run and making running shoes specifically designed for her.”
In addition to product specific to women, Puma has made several athlete signings as of late, including many leading women’s distance athletes including Molly Seidel, Gesa Krause, Aisha Praught-Leer, Fiona O’Keefe and Taylor Werner.
To further deepen its commitment to women runners, Puma — in partnership with Women Win and its athletes — stated it will donate to foundations that focus on furthering women in sport. The brand announced today the Puma Running Spark Change Fund, which it said will support charities geared toward establishing greater gender equity in the sport of running.
Moving forward, Longin confirmed Puma will expand its running footwear range, will deliver product for winter running and will continue to bring innovations, evolutions of current products and strengthen its women’s focus in 2022.