News & Views


by Contagious Team

Footwear brand creates app for Japanese runners that encourages discovery

Bringing the joy of sightseeing to running, sportswear brand Puma has launched a mobile app called RUN NAVI in Japan. 

Created by agency Beacon/Leo Burnett, Tokyo, the main feature in the RUN NAVI app is Route Infinity, to promote the launch of the brand's Mobium Runner Elite shoe. 

After downloading the app from the Apple App Store, runners can pick which kinds of sights or places of interest they'd like to visit. Route Infinity then plots a selection of routes to take in those sights, and the runners can choose which one they want to follow. 

As runners set off, the app guides them using audio cues - a beep in the left ear for example to turn left, or right ear to turn right - to navigate to the points of interest they've chosen. 

Along with giving reminders of distance run, vocal cues also automatically alert runners when they hit the sites of interest on their map. Users can also favourite preferred routes for a later date.
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Puma's playing catch up to Nike's hugely successful Nike+ running app, launched six years ago, which redefined the footwear category by adding a layer of digital utility to the products and provided a clear differentiator for the brand. 

Like competitors adidas and New Balance, Puma has had to find a new way to differentiate its digital service for runners. While Nike+ has always been about tracking personal performance, and sharing those results seamlessly across social networks, Puma's approach is to position itself around the pure enjoyment of running, and, importantly, discovery and appreciation of the sights people pass. That's an important difference: runners often complain about getting bored of running the same routes. Puma here takes the role of challenging and guiding you to try something new.

It's a smart brand positioning that sets Puma apart from the purely performance side of running, and plays to the emotional benefits of running as something beyond fitness. There's also interesting possibilities here for the brand to expand this. Why not send suggested routes to the app highlighting historical sights vs natural ones, for example? Or hidden back streets? There's also an interesting social element that can be incorporated when you're not simply positioned as getting fit: how about sharing scenic or interesting routes with runners around you, for example?

This story originally appeared on Contagious Feed. Contagious Feed is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious Feed contact