Mezamashii is a Japanese word that many Canadian runners may soon be adding to their foreign language repertoire! Mizuno is bringing the Mezamashii Project (that has been launched in the US) to Canada. In English the word means brilliant, and Mizuno has adopted it as a descriptor of what their shoes will deliver – a brilliant run. What it will mean for many Canadian runners is a free pair of Mizuno running shoes – not just to demo, but to keep!
At first the concept seems strange – giving out a free pair of shoes in hopes that people will have a brilliant experience in them and buy more Mizuno shoes. What are they putting in these things? Are these gateway shoes that will lead runners to NEED more Mizuno running shoes? Should we be worried?!
No need to fear, Mizuno is simply confident that they make great running shoes. In order to ensure that more people have the opportunity to realize that for themselves, they want to remove a major barrier to trying a new piece of sports equipment – the cost of the experiment. Many runners have settled on a particular brand, and in some cases model, of running shoe that they know works. Once this shoe relationship has been established, there is no need to fix something that isn’t broken. The potential reward a new pair of shoes MIGHT offer, is outweighed by the cost and wasted money in the event that they don’t like them any more than the shoes they run in now. The other factor is that even if a runner does decide to try something new, they are faced with many options when they go into their local running store, so buying Mizuno isn’t a sure bet anyway. To eliminate these two barriers, Mizuno has decided to give their shoes to runners selected for
Now this is all my hypothesis based on my understanding of (and interest in) marketing, running, and retail. Maybe Mizuno had other reasons to give away a whole pile of shoes – but I doubt it.
The other benefit that Mizuno is looking to leveragein the Mezamashii project is the power of social media. The #mezamashii tag has been cropping up on twitter as this project was started in the US, and I expect it will become a more common sight in Canada in the coming weeks. As a blogger who does a lot of gear review posts, I am quickly devloping an understanding of the power of social media. I write a review in Niagara Falls and it gets read by people all over the world. On the web it exists forever (theoretically) which is a much better shelf life than an expensive ad in a magazine that might kick around a subscribers house for a few weeks and then hits the trash. Mizuno hopes that the people selected for the Mezamashii Project will not only like the shoes they get, but also tell their virtual (and real life) acquaintances all about how great they are.
I was selected to participate as a founding member and am excited to see how this approach turns out for Mizuno. It has great potential and will make for many happy runners when the public application and selection process kicks off in the coming weeks. Of course, I’ll be posting a review of the shoe I choose in the future so look for that if you’re interested.