Vaporfly - object lesson in marketing?

I thought I’d start a separate thread for this. I’m wondering who else bought a pair, and then wondered what the fuss was about? Regardless of whether they achieve the results they claim, or not; is this simply an absolute master stroke by their marketing & PR division?

Nike have managed to create an immense amount of what feels like me to be hyperbole around these shoes, like nothing I have seen before. Securing the services of the world’s leading marathon runners, and finally getting that unofficial sub-2 time has only cemented the buzz around these shoes. They are of legendary status; that you cannot deny.

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I think the only “genius” bit by Nike was adding a value to the shoe in the naming convention, ie the 4%.
Don’t get me wrong, thats all it needed - then it went viral with all the runners, all working out how much time they could save now they’ve been given a magic number - as apposed to normal marketing drool. I mean 1 of asics opening lines is “wanna go faster” - but its just a generic statement. Nike have personalised the speed difference for each person and the community have snowballed it.
My perspective anyway - fast lads at my club are all brought into it. I’ve been too busy being injured to care and if someone can make a x% less likely to f?&k your achilles up - I’ll be first in the queue :smile:

I find it interesting that Nike and Hoka have turned the racing show mentality on its head. Traditionally it was a stripped down shoe guaranteed to break most club runners but with the Next% and Hoka it makes it possible to run fast and not be broken due to the cushioning. As you know I’m hooked and they work for me.

I think the genius has come in casting doubt over all runners, though this observation probably applies more to the pointy end of the field. The reason that 90% of the top 10/20% of all big races (made up figures, but you know what i mean) are all wearing them is the FOMO as much as wearing them for the (apparent) benefits. Nobody wants to be that guy/girl not wearing them and then missing out on PBs or whatever. You’d always have the “what if i was wearing the Nikes”, would i have won/beat my rival/beat my time etc.

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Yes it has been a very successful PR campaign and there is hype around the shoe. But the majority of that has been created by the public after using the shoes. If you have a product that seemingly works, and apparently better than their competition then by all means market that appropriately, that is after all their job.
I might be misreading tone online, but sounds like you think it’s all (or mostly) just talk, whereas I feel most evidence is suggesting there is definitely something real there.

I have more sense of a “PR machine” around the other 90% of triathlon products, smart watches, compression, recovery devices, supplements etc

Maybe I end up countering all my arguments on the other thread as to why they shouldn’t be banned, but I disagree with both of the above. There’s been a tangible benefit ever since I first put on a pair of 4%. I don’t know anyone who wondered what the fuss was about, or who would consider it necessary to caveat the benefits with (apparent).

I’ve run in a lot of pair of shoes. Nothing, not even other Nike’s, compare remotely to the vaporfly range. I have not yet tried the Hoka, NB, etc equivalents.

The smarts as far as I’m concerned is all in the combination of the carbon and the foam. As @leahnp says, previously it was all about racing flats. This was because, and I did try these, original bouncy foam shoes like the Adidas Boost range felt like you were running on a bouncy castle and had no forward propulsion at all. So therefore “fast” shoes needed to maintain the energy return to the floor with the sacrifice of utterly trashing your legs. What Nike did by adding the carbon plate is combine the stiffness to maintain energy return, whilst at the same time giving the benefit of deep cushioning to reduce fatigue.

Chris has probably summed up what I was trying to say more concisely.

But equally, as with anything, the benefits (real or perceived) are going to be very different for every individual runner. The shoes will undoubtedly benefit some by a significant margin … others, not so much. But few runners that are serious about performance are going to want to risk missing out, even if the shoes actually don’t make an ounce of difference to them. They’re not going to go and undertake rigorous testing (like a few of you guys tried in the early days on the track, swapping shoes etc) to see if the shoes are working for them.

That’s what i mean … the shadow of doubt is cast over everyone notwithstanding their real world efficacy on an individual basis. Now maybe that’s just incidental because they really are that good. I don’t know the answer to that.

I’ve only tried them out for a parkrun, so i can’t comment on a personal level. But what will i be wearing in Oct when i throw my all into my A race at Cardiff half do you think?!!?

That type of argument makes sense, so fair enough. That said, if I bought a pair of £200+ shoes, that had a returns policy, and I didn’t immediately feel they were of benefit, I don’t think I’d have kept them just because some people said they were good

Chriswim - I was only summarising on the marketing side. I have no experience of the shoe either way so can’t comment on actual performance.
That said, the shoe is clearly working for alot of people. Is the physical properties of the shoe 4% faster… or is it 2% faster and suddenly the wearers have the belief they can hold x pace accounts for another 2% cause “everyone else is going 4% quicker”. One of my biggest limiters is my mental ability and breaking down those barriers affecting my pace is quite hard.
I’d often go to parkrun, warm up in one pair of shoes then switch to some racier ones - as much to engage my brain that running faster was now possible.
So to me I think there’s so many things, the make up of the shoe, the desire to race hard in the shoe, placebo, mentality etc etc.

But i bet a lot of people did!

I think the first bit is one of the misconceptions. And your follow up point may have some merit.

Nike have never said it makes you 4% faster. They’ve said it improves running economy by 4%. From what I understand, those are very different things. The jumps I’ve made in the past year are stark, but if I look at my training which was almost entirely, bar one test run, in non-ZoomX shoes, I was consistently running faster and with a lower HR than ever before. Most of my gains are because I just got fitter.

But at the back end of a 70.3, or the back end of a full marathon, there are two things at play. One, as you say, the mental reinforcement of “I have magic shoes” on my feet. That can help banish the pain for a little bit longer and keep running hard. But more tangibly, the significantly reduced muscle fatigue. I still cannot believe how I ran 2:48 at Malaga, and felt like I could have run another marathon again the following weekend. Stairs are normally the devil even after a hard half marathon. Since running in the vaporfly range, DOMS are a thing of the past.

But back to the Marketing, I doubt people are shelling out £200 cause they can recover quicker (as great as that is) - the only chat I hear around the lads in my club are they are smashing PBs whilst in the shoes.
So whilst the 4% “faster” may be a misconception - and if people are generally saving these magic slippers for race day (so recovery from training runs isn’t a factor)… Faster or more efficient kinda blurs doesn’t it? Or is it arguably the same thing? (I’ve confused myself now :smile: )

On the Marginal Gains podcast, Josh recently did an episode on placebo that is worth a listen. Apparently placebo works even if you know you have the placebo. Got to be some of that going on with these shoes especially if your saving them for race day.

But in the marathon, they are one and the same. If your legs aren’t trashed at 20 miles, that’s a big performance gain in of itself.

It’s why I think Nike still say for 5k’s, they’d recommend one of their more traditional racers. As the reduced fatigue point is less of an issue. The thing is, you don’t get many specialist amateur 5k’ers. Most of us are running 5’s and 10’s as part of HM and marathon focuses, and so (in my case, and you can add in 70.3 and IM runs to that) I’m going to splash out on a pair of racers that target my major goals, rather than something specialist for a 5k that’s just a stepping stone.

I’ve always agreed with that thought process. I remember those magic wristbands from about a decade or more ago, which made you more flexible. They were clearly BS. I knew that. But when I wore one, I was more flexible. Back then I had a recurring hamstring strain problem in sprint sports, and these seemed to help. I know the band actually did nothing, but the mind is powerful, even it would seem if your conscious mind knows the truth

I think the big marketing win for Nike is the amount of “organic” content that is being generated around their shoes. People tend to be a bit cynical about manufacturers or sponsored athletes’ claims, but there’s a tonne of internet content where people who spent their own money on these shoes are banging on about how good they are and how much faster they are in them.

The 4% thread on this site (and the old TT) was probably the busiest thread on the site and lots of forum members have tried the shoes as a result. If the same thing has happened across other forums and websites then that’s a lot of free publicity for Nike.


I saw a program (maybe QI) where a medical doctor was talking about how powerful the placebo effect was and he said the same, even when they told people it was a placebo it still worked. He also said 2 placebo tablets worked better than one and a placebo injection worked better than tablets because in our mind it’s a more powerful thing.

Apparently in Germany doctors prescribe placebo to actual patients as its nearly as effective as a many drugs with zero side effects.

I bought a pair and it’s the only Nike running shoe I’ve ever bought. My reasons were a few but the main one was simply that I didn’t have a light pair of ‘race shoes’, in fact, I don’t think i ever have. Saucony ISO Ride is the closest I have and they’re EOL.

Other reasons include a running mate that has them and says there really is a different in how your legs feel less fatigued (could be true or not).

Partly marketing hype, partly curiosity.

Given the £000s I’ve spent on bike stuff over the years, it seems relatively small on the radar. Also, given they are an ‘A race only’ kind of shoe, they should last.

To early to say whether I’m a believer. I’ll report back after Bramley 20 miler.

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52%, get in line :smile:

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