I've been wearing New Balance shoes for years, and the last few pairs I have owned haven't held up nearly as well as the older ones. I usually run in the 890s and the last couple pairs seemed to lose all cushioning after about 300 miles, which is far too soon in my opinion. I tried a pair of the 980s and liked them, but the rubber in the front of the shoe wore out (there's literally a hole in the sole) in less than 200 miles and the midsole also seems to be wearing out too quickly.
Anybody else here notice this? If anyone on here works for New Balance, your recent products are junk, please revert to your old materials. Anybody have suggestions for shoes that are like the 890s or 980s but by a different company?
I think it depends on where you buy them. Shoe companies always make inferior versions of products for the department stores, where they make a killing in profit since all points in the distribution chain still charge a crazy "premium" price. Pricing is about perception and market segments with tunnel vision, not some universal all-encompassing scale of appraisal.
Now, if you've been going to specialty running shoe stores for that period of time and your claims still hold up, then there's a serious problem. And I actually agree with you. I've noticed this, in both venues (the department store/non-runner market and the specialty running shoe stores): a decline in quality (if you can even imagine the department store market getting worse, but in life, I guess the saying is 'it can always get worse').
If we want to be "understanding" to the shoe companies, we can compare them with American airliners who have to cut costs for whatever reasons. So they come out with inferior materials and designs, and streamlined processes (cookie-cutter, pathetic product lines that seem to be similar to each other, which reduces development and production cost).
If we want to be more cynical, we can understand that in corporate America, as well as politics in world history, what can go wrong/what can be abused, will go wrong/be abused. If consumers become suckers for corporate pushed fads and marketing and the companies can reduce costs at no loss, then it becomes a reinforcing cycle.
Companies nixing high quality, superior products/craftmanship/design and rolling out inferior quality, happens a lot. Sometimes it seems innocuous, sometimes it is clearly deliberate and sometimes it is hard to tell which. An individual consumer doesn't have much power in the every day course of things to change this. That's why it's a wise idea to invest in multiple copies of a good product when you find it. It helps to shop around many places--brick & mortar and online--to maximize your exposure (lucky finds) to high quality products, to be able to have backups and to have market familiarity so you can have a knack for when the sheet is going to hit the fan and when there's a good deal you should stock up on.
In the previous decade, I wore about four consecutive pairs of New Balance training shoes with moderately-heavy support. They were always kind of clunky to begin with but got worn in well pretty quickly and held up nicely even for fast running. I haven't worn any New Balance shoes recently but over Black Friday I was seriously considering buying (but missed out on the deal) the M480v4 (Amazon sale) @ ~$35. The sole looks huge but the shoe, without having tried it on, looked like it could have matched the shoes I wore last decade. Even with cost-cutting and emerging trends, there have still got to be decent trainers. But you could be right.
New Balance for about the past 8-10 years has become increasingly fashionable with the non-running market for casual wear of their casual line. Now, they've got design your own (color, not design) shoes and for a long time have had their products sold by Urban Outfitters for unsurprisingly exorbitant prices. Maybe this success has gotten to their head and they've decided to try tricks with a lot of their mass-marketed running shoe lines, hopefully leaving the serious athlete product line spared.
I haven't set foot in the best brick & mortar running shoe stores I used to go to (which always had at least some top quality shoes), but I have been in all manners of stores from the lower rungs up, including general endurance sport and sporting goods suppliers and can confirm the drop in quality all across the board.