Five Fingers sneakers and other successful examples of marketing

Кроссовки Вибрам Five Fingers Gear
Minimalistic Vibram sneakers with toes, barefoot running and shoes with maximum cushioning - expert reviews and criticism.

Minimalist toe sneakers, released by Vibram a few years ago on the wave of the barefoot running craze, instantly found their crowd of barefoot fans. Their first batches went viral as soon as they appeared. It seemed as if the entire running world had been waiting for several hundred years to finally create rubber gloves for the feet.

Competent strategies of marketers led to the fact that to have feet like a gorilla suddenly became fashionable. Therefore, even those who ran exclusively on the heel and who previously had a whole complex of cushioning, stabilizers and foot support in their running shoes switched to VFF (Vibram FiveFingers).

This raised the capital of the manufacturing company, but could not but lead to the natural attrition of amateur runners from the ranks of fans of barefoot running. Injuries became the main tool of elimination. And all kinds of injuries that accompany the wrong approach to training and to running in particular were present.

The “five-toed” sole so captured the minds of beginners and even advanced athletes that the small disadvantages, in the form of the inability to unify shoes for all several hundred types of foot, were not taken into account.

When the incompatibility of the foot shape with the sneaker standard was too obvious, sometimes a blowtorch would come into play. It allowed you to pull out a rubber toe by heating it. However, this usually didn’t work and caused even more problems.

You could often find rave reviews, even from people not connected with Vibram sales. In most cases, however, VFFs have become famous for their exceptional ability to rub blisters on all toes at once, not just one or two, as before. This is partly due to the fact that the sneakers were worn on a bare foot, so moisture was not allowed to get on the toes.

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There were also special socks for five-toed sneakers, the shape of which is easy to guess. But the combination of glove socks (although there were some without toes) with the same sneakers killed any idea of style and taste. About comfort, too.

“Five toes” are also made by Merrell and someone else, but the sole is still Vibram, so it does not matter much. Although there are a lot of different configurations.

Кроссовки для бега с пальцами

In addition to the biomechanical causes of injury due to the separation of the toes, several complaints about these slippers have been noticed. Overseas forums have complained about the occurrence of neuroma, a condition characterized by thickening of the nerve sheath of the foot and causing a pronounced pain syndrome. Despite the fact that neuroma is primarily a problem with high heels.

Even trailrunner guru Anton Krupicka complained in an interview about the neuroma, saying that he would never wear them again. And this despite the fact that Tony is quite a bright representative of minimalism in running.

The excitement around Five Fingers quickly died down, and they quickly became an object of ridicule and various media gags. Today it’s rare to see a runner wearing them on the street. So Vibram lowered the price to almost human. But still they continue to interest some people by their uniqueness and the opportunity to try something new. For example, running barefoot without much wear and tear on the soles of feet used to comfort.

In spite of all the disadvantages, the toe sneaker has the advantage of a wide and loose front, which does not dangle much. All thanks to the fact that each toe is in its own socket. This useful point is strongly emphasized by sports physiologists. That’s why today almost all manufacturers aimed at runners with “natural technique” take this into account and expand the metatarsal section of their sneakers.

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The urge to minimize shoes and run barefoot today has not disappeared and will never disappear. Because this is what nature has built into the biomechanical apparatus. Everyone is well aware that this is the right thing to do, but only if it is not fanatical.

Any extreme generates a lot of hype, which is very valuable for marketing. But it entails a huge portion of the audience potentially being traumatized by a lack of information, their own stupidity, or hastiness.

The opposite side of minimalist running shoes, which require the athlete to have proper running technique and a safe landing, are sneakers with maximum cushioning and support for everything. They allow you to land almost without consequences, sticking your heel into the asphalt and being unaware of the existence of such a term as running biomechanics.

Heel cushioning, and then forefoot cushioning, originally appeared in the last century in response to demand among middle-aged novice runners who had become weary of running as much as they could in half their lives. Half of the population in the States and Europe suddenly began to get their bodies back on track by running in the morning. And then injury problems began to surface due to a complete lack of technique and an inability or unwillingness to obtain information and manuals about the subject of running in order to study the matter thoroughly.

Given the unprecedented growth in the popularity of running, the marketing experts of the then still nascent Japanese Asics and their importers from Nike appeared right there. They explained to everyone in the newspapers and on TV that all the problems of beginner runners had now been solved and there would be far fewer injuries.

Unfortunately, the problems have been solved not by advocating the study of proper running technique, but by the latest developments in cushioning and running shoe design. Allegedly forever threatening to reduce to zero the natural response of the sole of the foot and the nervous system to the surface.

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In general, this is the reason why the transition to minimalist running shoes cannot be accomplished as quickly as many would like. Especially if the goal is to run injury-free. Not everyone has the patience to learn to run again, but there is a desire to switch to simple lightweight running shoes and get rid of a pile of cushioning inserts. And also from the large variations in the thickness of the sole, playing the role of crutches for the modern inhabitant when running.

Any innovation should be implemented very smoothly. Ideally, the transition should be gradual. In our case, speaking of the transition to minimalism, it is best to have two or three intermediate pairs of sneakers that will gradually level out the difference in sole thickness between heel and toe. Combined with lowering the duration of the runs, this will avoid many injuries, especially to the Achilles.

Maximum cushioning sneakers will never be a thing of the past and will always be popular, because there will always be those who started running from scratch without having studied the theoretical material. As well as those who at one point decided to immediately start running in super light marathon shoes and earned a few typical running injuries in the process.

Regarding the question of various marketing moves in the field of athletic shoes, it is strange that no one ever looks at the obvious things. Just pay attention to the professional elite, who have run in the simplest and lightest models of sneakers of their sponsor collections, and continue to run in them. For them, these questions have long been closed – simplicity borders on genius.

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