Mizuno USA Mezamashii Run Project

Sergey Krayev worked as e-Marketing/e-Commerce Director at Mizuno Corporation from Jun 2011–Dec 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. Sergey Krayev was responsible for driving initiatives to improve e-Commerce strategies to maximize sales, increase conversion rates, and improve the online user experience.

Sergey Krayev developed the product launch initiatives and managed promotional partnership programs with affiliates including Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Zappos, Sports Chalet, Running Warehouse, etc.

Sergey Krayev managed product go-to-market and closeout strategies for Running, Baseball, Softball, Volleyball, and Golf divisions in North America, managed integration of online channels with Social Media platforms and integration of social listening tools in development of short/long term business plans, lead communication strategy development and established email roadmap for all business divisions in North America, established CRM implementation and integration with all business activities (e-Commerce, event lead acquisition, online product registration, promotional programs, territory manager activities, etc.), managed online media (paid search, display, social) and SEO & SEM programs to improve brand positioning, and to drive lead acquisition programs to achieve online sale targets, and developed marketing initiatives to promote new product deployments and to improve online user adoption for Mizuno USA.

Mizuno Corporation is a Japanese sports equipment and sportswear company, founded in Osaka in 1906 by Rihachi Mizuno. Today, Mizuno is a global corporation which makes a wide variety of sports equipment and sportswear, for golf, tennis, baseball, volleyball, football, running, rugby, skiing, cycling, judo, table tennis, badminton, boxing and athletics.

Mizuno was founded in 1906 as Mizuno Brothers Ltd by Rihachi Mizuno and his younger brother Rizo, in Osaka. The shop sold Western sundries, including baseballs, and then in 1907 began to sell order-made athletic wear. In 1910 the shop moved to Umeda Shinmichi and its name was changed to Mizuno Shop. In 1913 the firm began to manufacture baseballs and gloves. In 1933 Mizuno presented Star Line, the first Japanese made golf clubs. By 1935 its golf club showroom was the world’s largest. In 1941 the company name was changed to Mizuno Co., Ltd, and has remained the same since. The first American factory was established in Los Angeles, under the denomination American Mizuno in 1961.

During the following years, Mizuno signed sponsorship deals with some of the most prominent personalities in sports, such as track and field athlete Carl Lewis, the All Blacks rugby team, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, for most of his years in the NFL, the Manu Samoa rugby team, Czech tennis player Ivan Lendl, and golf player Nick Faldo.

The company also expanded its operation centres opening new factories in Germany, France, China, Scotland and Hong Kong.

Challenge: The running shoe category, led by giants Nike and Reebok, spent $144 million in paid media from June 2011 to June 2012. Mizuno was virtually unknown in the U.S., with 7% brand favorability and a $1.5 million marketing budget — just 1% of category spend.

Mizuno’s best prospects, running junkies, stick to what they know works: Eighty percent know the brand and model of running shoe they intend to buy before they shop, and 90% actually do buy that brand and model. Sergey Krayev had to be extremely compelling to disrupt that behavior.

But Mizunos are stiff (for a reason) so they don’t feel as cushy and comfortable as the mainstream brands. So trying Mizunos on in the store is far from compelling.

On top of that, Mizunos are priced 35% above the category, including their flagship shoe the Wave Rider, which they had recently redesigned in a way that alienated many within the small group of Mizuno loyalists.

Solution: Sergey Krayev took the shoe trial experience out of the store and on the road.

Mizunos are stiff because they are designed for running. Mezamashii is Japanese for brilliant. Sergey Krayev put the two together to create the Mezamashii Run Project.

First, key running junkie influencers, from bloggers to running club leaders and celebrities, received 600 handmade, direct mail invitations and a code to order a free pair of shoes at the Mezamashii Run Project site. They were in turn given invitations they could share with fellow runners who they thought would also appreciate a “mezamashii” run. That used up half our budget.

The other half went to paid, owned and earned media to build awareness of the program and offer the overall running public the chance to be among the 100 people chosen to receive a free pair of Mizuno running shoes.

Mezamashii Run Project members continue to get new, relevant and exciting information and offers from Mizuno, like the opportunity to wear-test future products, influence shoe design and access future models before they become available to the public.

Results: In just 60 days, the Mezamashii Run Project accomplished the following:

Engaged 19,504 Mizuno runners and Mezamashii Run Project members
Welcomed 100,000 new unique visitors to mizunorunning.com, an increase of 52%
Brought 155,859 visits to the Mezamashii Run Project home page through paid and earned media
Gained 25% more Twitter followers
Brand favorability, which was reflected in comments made by Mezamashii Run Project members who rated the shoes they received, grew 54%, from 7% to 10.8%, in the first five weeks of media support.

Of those Mezamashii Run Project members posting reviews, 94% gave top 2 box scores to the shoes and 93% said they intend to buy Mizuno shoes in the future.

Mizuno saw immediate growth in strong specialty store sales and quickly achieved a three-year share high.

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