Berkshire Hathaway’s Brooks Running has experienced remarkable success in 2023, with a 5% increase in global revenue and a 7% rise in North American revenue year-to-date.
The company’s achievements can be attributed to various factors, including its expansion into new markets, recovery from supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the normalization of inventory levels amidst economic challenges. Furthermore, the return of Brooks’ full product line and innovation pipeline, along with the exceptional launch of the Ghost Max shoe in late September, have been instrumental in driving the brand’s growth and instilling confidence in its ability to achieve double-digit growth in 2024.
Leading the Market
Brooks Running has continued to dominate the adult performance running footwear market in the United States. For the seventh consecutive quarter, the brand has held the number one spot with a 21.4% market share. According to the Running USA 2023 Global Running Survey, released recently, Brooks was also identified as the most preferred brand for training and racing footwear by event participants.
Jim Weber, CEO of Brooks Running, expressed his satisfaction with the brand’s success, saying, “Brooks is winning with runners in an incredibly competitive marketplace. They are more discerning than ever and need their gear to deliver mile after mile. At the same time, we’re extending our reach to active people walking, hiking, or in the gym – because everyone can benefit from the fit, comfort, and performance Brooks’ products provide.”
Innovative Product Lineup
A key driver of Brooks’ momentum has been the introduction of new products into the market. Notably, the launch of the Ghost Max in late September marked a significant expansion of the highly successful Ghost franchise. This new shoe incorporates high-stack cushioning and GlideRoll rocker technology, providing enhanced protection and assisted transitions through the gait cycle. Ghost Max has achieved unprecedented retail adoption and contributed to Brooks’ dominance in the running footwear market. With the introduction of Ghost Max, Brooks now boasts five of the top 10 selling running footwear franchises in the U.S. specialty run channel.
Looking ahead to 2024, Brooks plans to introduce the Glycerin 21, the next generation of the fan-favorite Glycerin franchise, featuring additional DNA LOFT v3 cushioning. In addition, Brooks will launch the athlete-tested Hyperion Elite 4 distance racing shoe ahead of the 2024 U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials in February. The brand has also announced the Exhilarate-BL featuring Brooks’ cutting-edge 3D-printed 3DNA midsole technology, available to members of the Brooks Run Club in early 2024.
Omnichannel Growth and International Expansion
Brooks has not only excelled in the United States but also achieved significant growth in international markets. The company’s direct-to-consumer business saw a 25% increase in e-commerce sales in the U.S., while international revenue increased by 22% in France and the United Kingdom, combined, year to date. In addition, Brooks has made notable gains in the Chinese market, a testament to its ongoing regional and omnichannel growth efforts.
To engage with the community and promote its products, Brooks launched a pop-up store in Los Angeles in August. The store offered a dynamic shopping experience and hosted weekly community and fitness programming. Furthermore, Brooks has expanded its distribution capabilities by tripling its distribution facility footprint in the U.S. and U.K., enabling the company to meet the increasing demand across various sales channels.
Supporting Athletes and Global Running Community
Brooks remains committed to supporting athletes on the world stage. The brand’s track and middle-distance athlete, Josh Kerr, achieved a gold medal in the men’s 1500m at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, and Des Linden secured the American Masters Record at the Chicago Marathon. Additionally, Brooks has expanded its roster of elite athletes by sponsoring marathoner Susanna Sullivan and signing 800m runner Brandon Miller to its Beasts middle-distance team. The brand has also formed an NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) deal with University of Arkansas freshman Shawnti Jackson, who holds the title of the fastest American high school female of all time.
Brooks has also fostered strong relationships within the digital run communities by collaborating with fitness apps such as Strava and Joyrun. Brooks became the first title sponsor of Strava’s Global 5K Monthly Challenge, attracting 3.1 million participants and growing its Brooks Run Club on Strava by 71.6%. The partnership with Joyrun, boasting 128 million users, extends Brooks’ reach and audience engagement throughout China.
As 2023 draws to a close, Brooks Running has demonstrated its resilience and innovation in the competitive athletic footwear industry. With a strong lineup of products, impressive market share, and expanding international presence, the brand is well-positioned for continued success in 2024 and beyond. Brooks’ dedication to athletes, the running community, and its customers has solidified its reputation as a leader in the global running industry.
© 2023 David Mazor
Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell a stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.