- How would you rate your running shoes?
- How much did you pay for your running shoes?
These were the questions asked by RunRepeat.com, a website founded by former competitive runner Jens Jakob Anderson. A former lecturer on statistics at the Copenhagen Business School, this Norwegian created RunRepeat.com to help runners understand their options when buying running shoes.
Anderson asked these questions and got more than 130,000 responses from runners all over the world, then he ran what’s called a regression analysis on the results. It’s a really fun way to compare the answers to two seemingly unrelated questions and look for a relationship by plotting the answers on one graph. (Click on any of the graphs in this post to view them larger.)
In the first graphic in this post, you can see a graph that shows the cost of running shoes on the horizontal axis and the consumer rating on the vertical axis. Based on the dotted trendline drawn over the data points, you might infer that as the price of a shoe increases, the consumer satisfaction with that running shoe declines. This in itself is quite interesting, because it’s probably safe to say that most people expect that the more they pay for an item, the more satisfied they will be with that item; or at least they will be happier than if they chose a less-expensive alternative.
The study then took the ten most expensive shoes and the ten most “affordable” shoes out of those reviewed by consumers responding to the survey. I can’t say I’ve owned any of the shoes on this list, however I used RunRepeat.com’s “Ratings” feature to look up my main shoe for the past six years – the Brooks Adrenaline, which scored in the high 80’s.
Because the data suggested that as runners spend more on shoes, they have higher expectations – and those expectations are not being met just because of a bigger price tag. “This makes me question the consumerism we are experiencing towards premium running shoes,” says Andersen. In other words, the belief that more expensive running shoes are better leads to a willingness to pay more for running shoes. And that encourages the shoe companies to charge more.
Of course, there are some brands that cost more because they do business a little differently, but it’s hard to argue that there aren’t economies of scale for some of these larger companies. It is interesting to note that “Running specialist brands” (brands that primarily make running shoes) are rated slightly higher (2.8%) than general brands.
No matter where your faves fall on this scale or how they’re rated by others, I highly recommend that you rely on local experts that can observe your gait, stride, and posture to help you select the best shoe for you. We are lucky in Oregon to be surrounded by great locally-owned running stores that offer free gait analysis … take advantage of it and learn what types of shoes are most likely to prevent injuries and help you maintain your running lifestyle.
It’s important to note that as in all studies, what the statistics can tell us about trends and populations don’t define the individual. So if you love your Reebok running shoes, for example, that’s awesome and you should be happy you’ve found the pair that is right for you. Likewise, you should not throw your Nike Free Hyperfeet out the window because they only scored a 62 on the satisfaction rating if you love to run in them. However, the interesting results from this study suggest that you may also be able to spend less money on running shoes and still find a pair that works for you. Here are the top and bottom three brands, according to this study:
22. New Balance
24. Reebok (owned by Adidas Group)
24. Hoka One One
If you’d like to view the full study, you can do so here:
You can also submit a review for your shoes at RunRepeat.com.
RunRepeat.com did not compensate us for posting this, I just thought it was interesting. I also think it’s cool that the founder of the site just wanted to investigate whether or not the cost of running shoes was related to runner satisfaction. (I’d love to see him do a correlation between runners and personality traits – but I’ll keep my theories to myself because they are pure speculation.)
RunRepeat.com is an ad-free and cost-free website driven by a community of runners that review running shoes at the website. It has more than 100,000 user reviews and 2,500 expert reviews. The site is the world’s largest review site in running. Mr. Jens Jakob Andersen is the founder of RunRepeat.com, and the lead researcher on this study.