The small shoemaker out of Belmont, Massachusetts rarely turned a profit in its first half century of existence. It wasn’t until they produced a running shoe called the “Trackster” in 1960 that balancing the books became a reality. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
For some strange, unexplained reason, running had suddenly become one of the fastest growing recreational activities in the United States. New Balance first caught on with high school and college track coaches, who often purchased specialty shoes for their entire teams.
Because the company eschewed advertising of any kind, they depended on word-of-mouth marketing. It wasn’t until Tom Fleming won the 1975 Boston Marathon in a pair of New Balance 320s that the company became an overnight success, nearly seven decades in the making.
Bolstered by commercial and critical acclaim, the company invested in their new athletic division. Shortly thereafter, they changed their name to New Balance Athletic Shoes, Inc. Their target audience was and always has been the recreational runner in the 30-plus age group. These consumers do not pay much attention to the latest fashion trends. They are experienced runners and are far more interested in durable footwear that give them the support and performance they need.
New Balance continued to grow over the next two decades on the strength of its adult line of athletic shoes. They surprised just about everyone in the industry when they became the fourth largest athletic shoe manufacturer in the world. But something was still missing. There was a connection they had failed to make. As the market leaders started investing in athletic shoes for children, New Balance stayed on the fence. They had always targeted adults with their shoes.
But what they did not consider is the fact that their target market group, adults over the age of thirty, were starting to have children of their own. This intensely loyal group of consumers soon began to request athletic shoes for their kids. Although apprehensive, the company finally invested in running shoes for youngsters during the 1990s. The line was an instant hit.
All of the early shoes were based on best-selling adult models. Before long, the company started offering walking, crossing-training, basketball, tennis, and golf shoes for kids. New Balance is now the world’s third largest manufacturer of athletic footwear for children. Let us take a moment to review their most popular shoes for infants, toddlers, and children.
New Balance 515
Available in preschool and grade school sizes, the 515 is a durable cross-trainer designed to handle the daily grind and to provide comfort and performance to children who are probably far more active than their parents. The shoes are lightweight and stylish with a distinctive blue, white and silver design. As you might expect, the non-marking rubber outsole won’t scuff up your floors. The inimitable leather/mesh upper that is found in so many New Balance shoes for adults is both lightweight and breathable. Reflective patches and emblems on the shoe enhance visibility, just in case your child decides to run at night. Just kidding!
New Balance 687
As New Balance continues to expand its children’s line, they have introduced several shoes that are kids-only. The 687 is one of these models that have been marketed as technically superior shoes for kids that are more than mere miniatures of earlier adult models. The shoe features a durable outsole, a premium leather/mesh upper, and a hook-and-look closure combined with elastic laces for a comfortable and secure fit. New balance also fashioned the shoe with its proprietary C-CAP midsole cushioning and support and the ABZORB heel cushioning system for shock absorption. Of course, the 687 also has non-marking rubber outsoles and comes in an eye-catching silver and black design.
New Balance 993
One of the most popular models in the children’s line is the 993. Not surprisingly, it was based on the legendary 993 heritage running shoe that was a bestseller for New Balance. It is no surprise, of course, because parents often purchase products for their kids that they have tried themselves, and the 993 is one of the most durable, comfortable running shoes in the history of the company. A hook and loop closure makes the shoes easy to sip on and provides a snug, secure fit. Because it is based on an older design, the 993 is slightly less sophisticated than the shoes that are designed for the kids. It is a basic shoe that relies on the materials and designs that have made New Balance a household name. Features include a suede/mesh upper, reflective detailing, and a rubber cup midsole and outsole for durability and shock absorption.
Following in the footsteps of their active parents, more and more children these days are taking to the track and learning earlier than ever that physical fitness is an essential part of a healthy life. Thanks to New Balance, they can follow those footsteps with comfort and style!
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Article Added on Tuesday, February 1, 2011
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