“Consumers are demanding better product and looking for lightweight, breathable and comfort cushioning in footwear,” said Katrina Hartwell, vice president of strategic business development at Jones & Vining, which offers last, insert, midsole and outsole development and production. “Brands need to have discernible product benefits to differentiate from their competitors.”
Accordingly, Jones & Vining this year introduced PerfX, a breathable polyurethane footbed formulation that Hartwell described as 30 percent lighter than conventional PU. She added that it provides superior comfort without breaking down. “It outperforms all lightweight footbed options,” she said.
Looking ahead, sophisticated features can be expected to continue. Hartwell pointed out that smart last technology for robotic manufacturing — which she noted ensures greater precision, consistency and durability in the manufacturing process — is slated to be present in the company’s mix next year.
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Notably, this forward-thinking approach may be key to building — and maintaining — consumer relationships. When discussing why taking an inventive approach is especially critical to business success right now, Jennifer Samuel, head of external communications of global data and analytics and KPMG Capital, said that a fresh approach is crucial in today’s marketplace.
“There is a real opportunity for those who dare to lead the pace of innovation. Companies that evolve, innovate and truly understand their millennial employees and customers will likely succeed,” said Samuel.
Brennan Wilkie, SVP of customer experience strategy at InMoment, shared a similar perspective. “Customer experience is now the battleground where retailers compete. Understanding how customers feel about their experiences — and why — has never been more important,” he said.
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