On Running: Offering shoes-as-a-service

Customers don't want to own running shoes, they just want them to do a simple job for a couple of hours a week.

Business model innovation is one of the most exciting categories undergoing some radical new, creative thinking.

On Running (a Swiss running shoes company) realised that the traditional business model of 'simply selling running shoes to customers' was in desperate need of a sustainability makeover; so they developed a subscription model for running shoes called Cyclon.

At just $29.99 a month On Running sends subscribers a brand new pair of CloudNeo shoes and every 6 months they take back the old, smelly, worn shoes, recycle them and replace those shoes with a new pair of trainers.

The shoes themselves have been specially designed to be really great running shoes, but also entirely fully-recyclable...by On Running themselves.

They're also cleverly only available via the subscription service. Smart marketers these On Running peeps.

The take out

Like many things, people don't really want to own a pair of running shoes - what they want is to enjoy their running while wearing a pair of shoes that are light and comfortable. Ownership is not the goal, usage is. Subscription models like this allow for this and at the same time keep products out of landfill and in a circular system of reuse. In addition, a successful subscription business (if it gets it right) has customer retention baked into the model, which ticks all of the unit economics and customer profitability targets good businesses are after. 

Born in the Swiss Alps, On running shoes feature the first patented cushioning system which is activated only when you need it - during the landing.
On Running is trying to make shoes more circular | Greenbiz
The company’s subscription program could make a dent in the shoe waste problem — at least, for its running shoes.
The 100% Recyclable Running Shoe That’s Only Available by Subscription
To make a shoe that can be ground up, melted down and reincarnated as another shoe, Swiss sportswear brand On didn’t just need new materials and manufacturing processes. It designed a new sales model.