For 100 Lucky Runners, Zappos Turns Personal Trainer

Looks like Zappos has fitness resolutions just like the rest of us: The e-commerce site has launched Zappos Running, a vertical dedicated to getting you in better shape—even if it takes daily phone calls.

Besides offering inspiring videos with well-known runners and trainers, expert tips and a special promotion on returns, the Las Vegas-based company is even providing 30 days of free motivational support, called Run-On-One, available to 100 people.

“We’ve always known we have runners, of course,” says Joe Grusman, Zappos’ senior director of marketing. “But we wanted to get past the transactional level, and we felt like we were doing them a disservice by not offering them a real running community.”

For Run On One, it targeted those shopping for running shoes with an ad, eventually accepting 100 people, providing 30 days of motivational personal phone calls, at no cost. “We wanted to find a way to translate our legendary customer service just for runners,” he says. “We’ll call them whenever they want, and do anything they think will help get them back on track.” 



“The idea,” he tells Marketing Daily, “is that the running customer has been very loyal to Zappos. So we need to be more loyal to them.”

He says Zappos, owned by Amazon, plans to track the effort’s progress by measuring social engagement and how long people spend on the site, in addition to sales. “We’re really looking to gain more share of the runners’ minds,” he says. “This is much more of a social media play for us.” It’s also possible Zappos will expand Run On One to include more people.

The big surprise so far? Turns out there’s a not-so-little streak of masochism running through these runners’ veins. “They seem to like bootcamp-style motivation better than inspiration, like we’ll tell them to drop and give us 20 pushups while we stay on the phone and wait.”

It’s also offering an enhanced returns policy, allowing people to return any running shoes purchased through March 9 back within 30-days, no questions asked.

The challenge is creating content that’s engaging for all runners, whether they’re beginners training up for their first 5K or seasoned marathoners. “Some people run just for brunch, while others do it for solidarity and a sense of community. We wanted to make sure we had something for all of them.”

Overall, marketers catering to performance runners have been struggling. NPD Group, which tracks athletic shoes and apparel sales, says most major brands suffered declines in the most recent quarter, except Adidas and Brooks.

Next story loading loading..