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Challenges and opportunities for footwear producers

May 11, 2017 / World
Challenges and opportunities for footwear producers
The rapid pace of urbanization and the constantly-changing consumer preferences are affecting footwear markets. Companies in this sector should be prepared to face these challenges
Rapid Pace of Urbanization
Urbanization is a global phenomenon and one of the main drivers increasing demand for consumer goods, especially footwear. According to Professor Alberto Castro, from the Catholic University of Portugal and to the study Footwear Consumer 2030 (available here), it’s expected that global urbanization will rise from 51.1% to 60% by 2030. And this is a phenomenon occurring on a much larger scale in developing countries, if compared to developed ones.

How can this affect footwear?

Demand for shoes and other related products will continue to increase in the majority of international markets. Nonetheless, producers should pay special attention to developing countries, where a larger increase in demand is expected. Countries that aren’t currently attractive markets for footwear may become so, in a short period of time.

Changing Consumer Preferences
The 21st-century consumer is more educated and knowledgeable and, as a consequence, they become more demanding. The number of consumers who search for information and are in favour of certain causes is rapidly increasing. This presents a serious challenge for shoemakers, as they have to follow and quickly adapt to consumer preferences, which are of course fundamental in purchasing decisions.
It’s not only about adapting to new fashion trends but considering the whole new set of desires and beliefs. For instance, many consumers search for transparency and security. They want to ensure that the footwear they buy is safe and that it was made according to existing regulations. For these consumers, it is important that products are made from good quality materials, feel comfortable and won’t bring any hazard for their health. Some consumers also show concern with where and how their products are made.

How can this affect footwear?

Producers should be aware and monitor existing trends. The best way to know what consumers care about is to ask them. Doing surveys, conducting interviews or accessing market data are great ways to keep up to date. Footwear companies must then re-think and adapt their products to best-fit consumer's desires.

At first glance, this may seem like a big challenge for footwear, since companies will have to be on the lookout and adapt their products, communications, and internal processes. But it might also represent an opportunity for differentiation and competitive advantage for agile and fast companies.

To read more about the trends impacting Footwear Consumption please refer to the study Footwear Consumer 2030 available for free here.

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