Puma is a German multinational sports and appeal company headquartered in Herzogenaurach Bavaria, Germany. Founded in 1948 by Rudolf Dassler in the town of Herzogenaurach, Puma has since now grown into an international company with annual sales of € 6.81 billion for FY 2021. In 2021, Puma successfully recorded a 30% increase in its net sales.

As a brand, Puma is well known in many different sports segments including tracks and most prominently with Usain Bolt. While Puma had great success in the track & field and soccer, the same cannot be said for its road running segment. As other brands gained greater traction with the consumers, Puma’s road running shoes were oddly out of the picture.

2021, the Pivotal Year for Puma Running

Back in 2020, the UltraRide which seems to be an attempt by Puma to get back into the game. Yet that didn’t make the cut as well. However, in 2021, Puma took a huge step which changed the direction the brand was going. Puma revamped their whole running shoes line-up with a new cushioning technology – the Nitro – and introduced other advanced technologies.

The Nitro foam is said to be 50% lighter than traditional EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) based midsole foam while maintaining the same level of responsiveness. With the new midsole foam, Puma introduced 5 new products – the Deviate Elite, Deviate, Velocity, Liberate, and Eternity.

Figure 1: Supercritical Nitro Process (Source: Puma)

Aside from the new midsole, Puma also went on to introduce their Pumagrip rubber based off proprietary technology. The Pumagrip provides 31% more slip-resistant than previous rubbers the company has used. Catering for runners looking for more stability, Puma also brought in their new RunGuide technology. The RunGuide technology provides the stability needed through a 360, all round support for the runner. With the market filled with carbon fiber racer, Puma would not fit the game if it didn’t have a pair of plated shoes, but it did. The Puma Deviate Nitro incorporates Puma’s Innoplate (Figure 2), designed with a split in the forefoot to provide flexibility for all types of runners.

Figure 2: Deviate Nitro Exploded (Source: Puma)

The updated line-up has proven its success for Puma when we look at the performance of the Footwear division for 2021. The Footwear division reported a total of about € 3.16 billion in sales for 2021, reporting a growth of 33.6%, and accounting for 46.5% of Puma’s total sales globally. Within the Footwear division, the strongest growth came from the Sportstyle and Running & Training categories. Puma’s effort to get back into the game has yielded results.

Chart 1: Puma Footwear Division Annual Sales (Source: Puma)

What will Puma bring in 2022 for the Runners’ community globally?

With the successful reboot of the Puma running line-up in 2021, Puma is not letting off the pedal to bring more to the market. The Fast-R is Puma’s next generation marathon race day shoes with decoupled heel and the forefoot and utilize Puma’s PWRPLATE, their new carbon fiber plate. Additionally, the Fast-R also uses a biobased PEBAX foam, from castor beans, for its Nitro Elite foam. The Fast-R will be coming out in full force in June of 2022 with limited launch back in February 2022.

The other is the Velocity Nitro 2 which is Puma’s neutral daily trainer running shoes. A key update for the Velocity Nitro 2 over its predecessor comes from the midsole. Puma redesigned the midsole to have the Nitro Foam stacked on top of the EVA foam rather than have their separated in the first version. This change will likely help to deliver an improved and consistent ride compared to before.

One key advantage I see in the Velocity Nitro is in its price point. Here is Singapore, it retails for S$189.00. Being in the daily trainer category, it is competing with the likes of: New Balance’s 880 v12, the Nike’s Pegasus 38, Adidas’s SL20.3, ASICS’s Cumulus 24, or Hoka’s Rincon 3. The Velocity Nitro fits right in the middle among these running shoes in terms of pricing. In terms of pricing, The SL20.3 is indeed a versatile daily trainer with a lower price point. However, I would argue that Velocity Nitro 2 has an edge over the SL20.3 with its Nitro foam incorporated.

Figure 4: Alternative for Velocity Nitro

Aside from these 2 running shoes, there has yet to be news about Liberate Nitro or Deviate Nitro. The Liberate Nitro is one for runner looking for a speedy and lightweight running shoes. The Deviate Nitro targets runners looking for a performance trainer/race day shoes, similar to where Endorphin Speed sits. In my opinion, Puma had a huge success with its re-entry into the market with its Nitro line-up. Therefore, I am excited to know what updates would come for the other products in its line-up.

Puma had a long history in the footwear industry, and it is delightful to see a revival of the brand. Based on the update done to the Velocity Nitro 2, Puma appears to be listening to the feedback runners gave and acted on it. As we cruise into the 2nd quarter of 2022, I am excited to see what Puma will release for 2022.

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