Updated: April 28th, 2018

In the past decade, Altra has been successful as they continuously introduce new models and expand their brand to trail and racing flats. Altra’s continued success has positioned them – from a company that did not exist 10 years ago – to the one of the top 10 most popular running shoe brands in the world.

Brand Loyalty

Brand Loyalty

Brand Loyalty

Part of their success is due to their incredible brand loyalty. Last month we asked our readers about what they did when they “retired” their last pair of shoes, as in what type of shoe they purchased next.

On average, out of 2,400+ responses, 54% buy the same brand. For Altra, this percentage is 77%. The next closest to Altra was Hoka One One, which came in at 68%, so Altra has a wide margin of brand loyalty according to our survey. When it came to the lowest brand loyalty, Under Armour came in at 41%.

Long Mileage Shoes

Altra is the among the top two favorites when it comes to running long distances. Our survey found Altra came in second when it came to the favorite Marathon running shoes.

In our survey, 19% of respondents said Altra was their favorite. When it came to ultra-marathons, Altra was second again with 26% behind Salomon, which had 36%.

The most common miles run in Altra shoes was 26 to 40, the same as Solomon shoes. So, this coincides with Altra being a high mileage running brand.

Altra’s Success

Ultimately, Altra’s success over the past 10 years has been due brand loyalty. When Golden Harper set out to develop a shoe that helps prevent injuries, he also developed a shoe that developed a following.

The company has been so successful they have been recently purchased by the VF Corporation, who owns Timberland, North Face, Vans, and many other well-known brands.

It is clear Altra is not going anywhere, in fact, they appear to be taking the next step in expanding their company.

What are the origins of Altra Running?

Altra was born in 2009 from a simple idea. Golden Harper wanted shoes that helped prevent injuries. Having run marathons since he was 12, he was no stranger to running injuries. As Golden got older, he started experimenting with shoes to help reduce these injuries. The first Altra shoe was created in his basement with a toaster oven. Harper then took his idea to the local shoe cobbler who helped him continue to redesign and remake shoes by shaving the heel off them. This is where the “zero-drop” shoe was born.

The Start of Altra and the Shoe’s Distinctive Features

Golden started working with Brian Beckstand and Jeremey Howlett to further refine Golden’s original idea. They filmed people running in racing flats and completely barefoot. They then filmed people running in traditional running shoes. When comparing the footage, they noticed the runner’s form changed once they switched to the running shoes. The idea to help people improve their form, prevent injuries, and run better with zero-drop shoes started taking off now that they had evidence. They further developed the idea and created the Altra shoe we know today.

Altra has two distinctive features which are they zero-drop and the foot shaped toe box. The foot shaped toe box is wider than traditional running shoes, which allows for a natural toe splay. The zero-drop is something that is distinctive to Altra, which means the shoes are the same height under the heel as the toe. Both of these innovations are designed to mimic the natural movement of the feet, so the body learns how it is supposed to work, which helps to prevent injuries.

Is Altra’s Zero-drop the Same as the Minimalist Movement?

How is the zero-drop different than the barefoot or minimalist movement? Altra shoes are different because they follow a “natural foot healthy philosophy.” Around the same time Altra started in 2009, Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run” took off. Marketers took the term zero-drop and associated it with barefoot and minimalistic shoes. This is different from Altra because Altra still believes in cushioning, the foam is just flat. Barefoot shoes are the opposite because they have very minimal cushioning.

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