New Balance – Customizable, local-made, and fast delivery

New Balance is one of many athletic shoe companies changing the way consumer goods are sold online.   Along with messenger bags, jewelry, and dress shirts, shoes are one of the most popular market segments of the customization movement.   Shoes of Prey and Munich My Way are other examples of shoe customization.

New Balance offers a design-your-own shoe experience on their website  just like Converse, Puma, and Nike.   Shoppers can select color combinations and add personalized text as well.

This informational video highlights New Balance’s commitment to 3 key elements of the customization business model: consumer control, local manufacturing, a fast delivery time.

Consumer control

Shoppers make selections from a palette of supported colors.  The shoe-builder offers multiple views of the shoe so that the shopper knows exactly what they will get if they make a purchase.   Color options are curated by New Balance.  The shopper can choose any combination of colors to create a one-of-a-kind shoe.  Additionally, the user can personalize the shoe with custom text on the heel.

New Balance taps into the power of the crowd, ie co-creation, by allowing shoppers to post their creations to a public gallery.  Anyone can select a pre-designed shoe from the gallery and buy it from the store, or make last minute customizations and buy it.  Customer galleries are important for inspiring the creative process, since most shoppers don’t want to start the design process with a blank canvas.  Along with performance and rich visualization, consumers demand creative guidance from the community while they are designing consumer goods.

US Manufacturing

The US based New Balance facilities produce up to 7,000 pairs of shoes per day.  New Balance is the only athletic shoe company to manufacturer shoes in the US.   Increasingly, offering a local made product is important to ecologically sensitive consumers.

Fast delivery time

A primary benefit of maintaining US based manufacturing is the ability to deliver quickly to US customers.   Custom 574 New Balance shoes are shipped within 1 week of ordering.  Many custom-made product companies suffer from supply chain problems and cannot deliver quickly.  Indeed, Zappos-like customer service and delivery times is part of a successful customization business.

Storytelling

Lastly, I would also note that the video itself is part of a larger branding strategy that is based on storytelling.  The New Balance brand has strong roots in the New England area, and telling that story and communicating core brand values is part of a successful long-term marketing strategy.  Indeed, New Balance is a great case study in successfully creating a rich brand identity in a highly competitive market.

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