One of the nice bright spots for Saucony in the recent past has been the sales of their cross country racing flats and spikes, in particular the Saucony Kilkenny, which has been an industry sales leader the last two seasons. Cross Country racing shoes don’t sell in particularly large numbers, but they do tend to show up on the feet of young high school runners and if your goal is to reinvent your brand to appeal not only to the traditional middle-aged jogger, but to their youngster as well, you need to get into this arena and make yourself relevant. This was an important step in Saucony’s plan to reinvent themselves several seasons ago. Now a few short years later, they are one of the hippest brands in the industry.
The Kilkenny sells very well and has a solid following, but the shoe was getting stale. Since the Kilkenny has been so successful, any update has to deal with the challenge of not screwing up a good thing. The Kilkenny XC4 got it right. By leaving the midsole unchanged, the feel of the Kilkenny XC4 remains familiar. To freshen up the shoe, a lighter weight air mesh upper, similar to the Kinvara, has been used and synthetic suede overlays complete the new look. Both of changes should make the shoe more breathable and comfortable. The plate switches from a 6 pin configuration to a 4 pin design which should offer similar levels of traction but increase flexibility and comfort.
Overall a nice update. The new Kilkenny XC4 should attract new fans with its bold colors. The $55 MSRP flat is projected to come in for men at 6.4 oz (women 6.0 oz) while the $60 MSRP spike is at 6.7 oz (women 6.3 oz). Expect to see men’s and women’s versions at Running Warehouse in June 2011.