With the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games, a strength competition for arguably the most fittest athletes on the world and the biggest stage for Reebok, in the rear view mirror now, the fight for the best cross training shoe is on. Ever since the CrossFit boom began around eight years ago and Reebok obtained the rights to the term ‘CrossFit’, they have been the go-to brand for high intensity, cross training workout gear. Reebok has many athletes under endorsements for their products and have created some amazing products from footwear and apparel. They really have owned the CrossFit market for a couple of years now, with New Balance and a few other footwear companies trying to make a push into the CrossFit market over the past few years. Reebok has pumped out some really good signature CrossFit shoes mainly from the Reebok Nano line which is on its 5th model, which has done really well among the CrossFit community. Reebok was the first big company to really recognize the consumer needs of a CrossFit athlete and has remained holding the torch ever since. It wasn’t until January of 2015 that sportswear giant and rival footwear company, Nike, decided to join the fun and create a “high intensity” training shoe of their own to compete with Reebok. From there on, the Nike Metcon 1 was born. The Nike MetCon 1 is a new training shoe designed to withstand the demands of cross training allowing you work out in full speed with ease and to not be worried about blowing out your footwear. Created with versatility and performance, the Metcon 1 caters the the modern athlete with a dual-density two rubber midsole, flex grooves and tough abrasion-resistant mesh. The shoe also features a drop in Phylon insole, giving the athlete soft cushioning for the high impact workouts.
Since Reebok is the official sponsor of the CrossFit games and anything that uses the name “CrossFit”, all athletes in the games must wear the brand no matter if they have a shoe contract to competitor brands or not. This is how this years battle between Reebok and Nike began. In the past few weeks leading up the the CrossFit games, both brands have been throwing small punches at each other via social media. Nike new that the Metcon 1 would be banned from the games, so they made a black and red color way similar to that of the Nike Air Jordan 1 black/red that was banned from the NBA and promoted it with the catch line, “DON’T BAN OUR SHOE, BEAT OUR SHOE”. It was a cool story color way that relates to a whole other shoe, but definitely let Reebok know that Nike is not going to let down just because athletes can’t wear their shoes in the CrossFit games.
The competition for the best cross trainer between the two brands is definitely there, but does the consumer ultimately care? CrossFit seems to be a sport where consumers will wear whatever is the best at the time to make them perform better. There is no brand loyalty, nor do they seem to really care about the battle between Nike vs. Reebok. Sure, the everyday sneaker head is interested in this news, but to someone that does CrossFit and just wants a shoe that performs really well, not so much. From my experience working with the Nike Metcon 1, CrossFitters will switch brands and shoes a lot until they find the right one and are openly willing to trying the next new ‘hot’ product on the market, enter the Nike Metcon 1. Nike hasn’t been this focused on their training category in some time, so it is really cool to see them refocusing in products for training, more so making the market for cross training more competitive by directly going at the competitor, Reebok.
Nike knew what they were getting themselves into, entering a market that is owned my one company. Nike after all was the company that made the first true cross-trainer in the Nike Air Trainer 1, so this wasn’t unfamiliar territory for them. When the Nike Metcon initially released back in January, the hype for the shoe was definitely there and many consumers who do CrossFit were truly excited to try out the new product. The show sold out just about everywhere within a week, including stores and online, making the demand for the shoe among the CrossFit community very strong. Whenever I have had the chance to speak with consumers that said they do CrossFit workouts, I always ask them first what shoes they’ve worn in the past, what they are wearing now, and what brand, whether it be Nike, Reebok, New Balance or adidas. When I ask them what they are looking for, they generally say, “a shoe that is comfortable, low to the ground, and tough and durable”. Durability and comfort are key for CrossFitters. They can’t be doing olympic lifts and nonsense shoes with materials that won’t last, especially for a $120 shoe in the Nike Metcon 1 and $130 for the Reebok Nano 5.0. From what I have gathered from having face to face interactions with consumers who have purchased the Nike Metcon 1 and reading reviews online, the battle seems to be almost neck to neck. Reebok recently unveiled their new Nano 5.o earlier this spring and debuted it at the 2015 CrossFit games. The Reebok Nano line is now on its 5th rendition of the shoe, and has seen some changes over the years. The biggest thing for the developers and designers from both companies is to make a shoe that is really durable, yet still comfortable for multi-purpose, multi-directional activities, such as CrossFit workouts.
With Nike now full swing into their own cross-training shoes with the introduction of the Nike Metcon 1, expect to see them continue to go full speed ahead at Reebok. It will be interesting to see what the future hols for both companies in this CrossFit market. The market definitely isn’t going anywhere, even though it may be a small market. Reebok still owns the rights to the term CrossFit for a few years down the road (2020), so Nike will really have to battle if they want to get any direct shine in the CrossFit games. However, they really don’t need to even be in the games, though. They already made an awesome shoe without even promoting it that much, and it has done well among the CrossFit community. A Nike Metcon 2 will soon be on the way, but only time will tell how the shoe will do. In the meantime, Nike Training and Reebok CrossFit will continue to go head to head.