ASICS, which makes athletic apparel and is best known for its running shoes, is buying FitnessKeeper, which owns run-tracking app Runkeeper.
Apparently, running shoes really need apps to connect with athletes regularly. To wit:
- Under Armour went on an app buying spree and owns Endomondo, MapMyFitness and MyFitnessPal. Under Armour has now integrated the apps into UA Record and partnered with HTC.
- Adidias acquired Runtastic.
- And now ASICS, one of the premier brands for runners, owns Runkeeper.
This trend highlights how apparel companies are going digital as well as the connection that is required to market to athletes. Athletes track runs, diet and all sorts of metrics for performance. That data can factor into how products are churned out. And then there's 1:1 marketing. These brands have a loyal following--I've been wearing ASICS Gel Kayanos for years--and apps close the loyalty loop.
In a statement, ASICS said it will use Runkeeper, which has more than 33 million registered users, to advance a wearables strategy. ASICS also said "the integration of "Runkeeper's" globally recognized brand and worldwide user base with ASICS' technological competence in manufacturing will lead to continued enhancement of our corporate value."
ASICS said it will establish a 1:1 marketing channel and use data to better develop its products. For Runkeeper, the decision to partner with ASICS wasn't hard. ASICS are the shoes Runkeeper customers use the most.
Under Armour set the integration blueprint for these digital apps and went big. It remains to be seen whether other athletic apparel companies can make the shift.