Sports footwear forms approximately 26% of total global footwear market sales in 2013, and is also expected to outperform the overall footwear market going forward – due to increased participation in sports, but also as consumers increasingly choose to wear sports footwear on a day-to-day basis, following the move towards comfort. Euromonitor segments the sports footwear market into 3 subcategories: ‘Performance, Outdoor and Sports-inspired. Performance footwear includes footwear which is specifically designed for sporting activities and includes a significant level of technical development – e.g. Nike Flyknit Lunar running shoes. Outdoor footwear includes footwear specifically designed for outdoor activities with technical features, e.g. durability and enhanced protection against difficult weather conditions. Sports-inspired footwear – currently the biggest category - are not designed to enhance performance while practising specific sport disciplines and instead are more geared towards latest fashion trends.
Some of the biggest and best online fashion retailers have been purveyors of footwear. Not only are they winning on price and variety, they are also not piggybacking on fit-lifting tactics. In fact, many of the most successful online start-ups are creating and marketing their own branded products.
It’s important to discuss distribution strategies in more detail as these are closely linked to consumer demand. A huge proportion of footwear in China is sold through an unorganised retail and currently we are seeing a dynamic shift from this channel through apparel specialist retailers and sports good specialists to internet retail. And whereas unorganised retail is here to stay – at least for now – it’s dominance is gradually diminishing and the unorganised retail sector is bound to shrink as a share of the overall market in the medium term.