SBD/November 11, 2016/Marketing Symposium

Tough Mudder Looking To Expand Outside U.S., Could Enter Training Business

Dean said that international expansion is Tough Mudder’s primary growth focus
Tough Mudder is looking beyond its U.S. events to international expansion to even getting into the training business, said company Founder & CEO Will Dean at the ’16 Momentum Sports Marketing Symposium. The obstacle course endurance events launched in '10 and quickly became hot destinations for millennials, but domestic growth has in recent years slowed. That has led the company overseas. “We are now in 16 different markets,” said Dean, who drew laughs from the crowd when he noted the difference between Australia, where participants sign up late, and Germany, where they ask a lot of questions. Tough Mudder distinguishes itself from other endurance events like marathons and triathlons because it is not a competition, but a social outing for friends and families. “Something we have said internally at Tough Mudder is, 'Experiences are the new luxury goods,'” he said. Indeed, he noted customers are so passionate that 10,000 of them have Tough Mudder logo tattoos. Dean is quick to note that while international expansion is the company’s growth focus, the number of events in the U. S. has technically grown, too. Instead of just one event at a location, the weekend now features multiple events, from kids contests to courses that are only half the usual length of 10-12 miles. By that metric, Tough Mudder now boasts more than 200 events, he said. The company is also looking at getting into Tough Mudder training, which Dean said could be a more valuable asset than the events itself. Participants on average spend $600 training, he said. And merchandise is part of that plan. Through presenting sponsor Merrell, Tough Mudder offers sneakers, a pair of which Dean was wearing during his presentation.
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