Did you know that a person’s shoes are one of the first things noticed about them? Consumers who are influenced by fashion are certainly one of the top targets of the shoe industry, but sustainability, fair labor practices, and even conservation are going to be points of emphasis for the shoe industry to examine in the future.
In the United States, the average women owns at least 19 pairs of shoes in their closet.
The type of shoes that a consumer pursues can tell the the industry a lot about what their personal preferences happen to be. Whether it’s high heels, boots, or even flip-flops, there are a number of trends to follow which will shape the industry now and well into the future.
Emerging Markets and the Shoe Industry
- If the US and EU economies continue to experience slow or no growth because of uncertainty, then look for the shoe industry to turn toward emerging markets for continued revenue growth.
- The APAC region in particular, including China, is expected to take on a greater share of global economic growth in regards to consumer spending by 2030.
- Two luxury footwear brands have already made the transition to the APAC markets. For Ferragamo, the APAC market represented more than 37% of their total revenues for the year. Prada opened 27 stores in the region, which accounted for 35% of their total new stores worldwide in 2015.
- As income levels stabilize, the middle class is expected to be the dominant demographic globally, which means footwear brands will need to cater to this population base. Look for efficient designs and durable materials in order to keep prices down as extreme poverty production markets are eliminated.
- New preferences from emerging markets will put pressure on product development resources to engage these new customers.
- Mature markets will also need to have adjustments made to pricing structures as low-cost shoe manufacturers attempt to take advantage of the growing opportunities in the emerging markets.
Shoes are an almost mandatory fashion item, but the cost of shoes often prohibits a consumer purchasing their preferred product. Why pay $100 for a pair of Reebok Shaqnosis shoes when you can buy a pair of Champion shoes at the local discount store for $20? This is going to be the challenge for the shoe industry in all markets, but especially in the emerging markets. How can you create attractive designs while keeping costs low, yet still provide a premium shoe for high income earners who see their shoes as one of their primary fashion accessories?
How An Aging World Affects the Shoe Industry
- The current global average life expectancy is just above 70 years. For some developed countries, the average life expectancy is well above 80.
- Since 1960, the global average life expectancy rates have risen by over 20 years.
- For the shoe industry, this means there will be an increased demand for therapeutic footwear and shoes that have medical applications. Think GPS inclusion for footwear provided to people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or shoes with extra depth in them to combat potential diabetes symptoms as options for the industry in this category.
- Under the current market conditions, consumers simply purchase whatever shoes are available to them to meet medical needs. As more people have these needs, however, an expected increase in demand for better designs and more fashion elements will need to be met in order to keep growth at sustainable levels.
- As the population ages, there will also be a trend to have populations migrate toward urban areas. The World Bank estimates that 60% of the world’s population will live in a city by 2030. This means shoe manufacturers will need to focus on fashion and design if they are going ti influence purchasing decisions as the average number of shoe choices will likely increase.
Shoes are one of the best purchases that can be made today. They support the whole body from the foot and ankle, providing stability and comfort. Wear and tear on a person’s joints can be minimized. As the global population ages and life expectancy rates continue to rise as expected, the need to have adaptive, but affordable footwear will be a trend that continues to grow for Baby Boomers and eventually for Millennials.
How Women Will Drive the Shoe Industry Trends
- In the developing world, women are finding more opportunities to complete their education and find meaningful employment. This results in a higher demand trend for fashionable footwear that is suitable for several different career options.
- When women gain economic independence in the developing world, they also gain more power as a household decision-maker, which means the shoe industry must adapt to this societal evolution in these areas.
- Some footwear brands have already made this transition, such as Bata, which is going door-to-door in Bangladesh to market shoes directly to women in this category.
- The drive to equip women with the footwear they need is also going to create new jobs for women in the shoe industry as well. According to Vamp Footwear, Bata hires women to travel to consumers in remote areas and their salespeople earn a commission on every pair of shoes sold.
- For women in the developed world, sustainability is a point of emphasis that must be taken seriously. Toms Shoes have taken a one-for-one approach, donating a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair of shoes purchased.
Women might be more interested in shoes than men, but in many ways it is because they have a practical need for multiple shoes. Some careers demand certain shoe styles. For some women, especially in the developing world, having a good quality pair of shoes can mean the difference between getting a job or being passed over for one. This means the shoe industry must take on two different roles. In the developed world, consumers are attracted to companies that give back in some way. In the developing world, comfort and access are the barriers which must be knocked down. If this can be done, the growth in revenues for the shoe industry in the next 20 years could be at unprecedented levels.
How Partnerships Will Influence The Shoe Industry
- Shoe retailers are looking to create partnerships with other popular brands to gain more exposure for their shoes and this trend will continue in the years to come. Finish Line being in several Macy’s stores or Foot Locker and Adidas and their partnership are good examples of this consolidation.
- Look for these partnerships to enhance online opportunities for consumers to shop. Amazon listings are already present, but the shoe industry will take this to new levels. E-commerce will become another extension of their brand. Look for customer reviews, 3D imaging, and even customized fitting from the convenience of a home computer or mobile device in the future.
- Omnichannel efforts will help to make sure consumers have access to the shoes they want to have, even if they live in rural areas where their preferred shoe fashions may not be available in brick-and-mortar outlets.
- An online presence, along with data collection from social media and search activities, will help the shoe industry to offer specific recommendations to consumers. This will create more of a personalized experience for each shopper, which could result in a greater number of sales per consumer.
- Partnerships will also help shoe brands be able to identify growing trends in specific shoe demographics. For example: the prices of plastic or rubber shoes grew just 2.7% over the last decade while leather shoe prices grew by over 7%. Consumers will stop adjusting to price increases and instead look for ways to extend the life of their current shoes while investing in cheaper options.
- Look for shoe brands to consider adding shoe care products, repair services, and other add-on options as a way to increase revenues when there are shortfalls in shoe sales.
- Partnerships are also going to encourage better social responsibility practices as brands pool their resources. Consumers will demand more transparency in these practices, especially in terms of labor and the use of non-renewable resources, because they will influence their purchasing decisions.
- The Global Reporting Initiative and its Sustainability Disclosure Database shows the number of reports released by companies in the industry rise from 19 in 1999 to 3,341 in 2013.
The future of the shoe industry means needing to implement better manufacturing processes. Consumers are going to be unhappy with brands who pay below-standard wages or maintain below-standard manufacturing conditions. Those concerns will be amplified by their social media presence and affect the purchasing decisions of an entire network when there’s an unhappy consumer. By offering more choices, offering to be transparent in all facets of the manufacturing process, and being willing to change when necessary, the shoe industry will see partnerships and consolidation as a positive way to reach out to an ever-growing customer base.