With positive growth in 2018, the footwear industry is looking to continue that momentum this year. On Tuesday in Las Vegas at FN Platform, The NPD Group’s Beth Goldstein explained these driving factors and where the biggest opportunities lie in 2019.
It was a peak year for the U.S. footwear business, which was up 6 percent from 2017, according to the industry analyst. Women’s was the biggest category (up 4 percent) where performance footwear continued to drive the market. Goldstein said, “Fashion sneakers drove almost half the growth in women’s fashion. It’s mostly comfort. There are no pumps [and] the designer space is growing with comfort-oriented styles.”
Top brands included Nike, Skechers, Ugg, Sam Edelman, Michael Kors, Steve Madden, Adidas, Converse, Vans and Clarks.
As consumers continue to shift their buying habits to be more digitally focused, Goldstein said stores still aren’t going away, but rather business models are changing. She also explained that shoppers are spending less, at an $84 average, however, purchase frequency is up.
And as 2019 continues, here are what companies will be focusing on most.
Innovation Beyond Comfort
While comfort is a key component to the shoe industry’s rise, there will be a focus on function, the end use of product and helping consumers solve problems with their shoes they didn’t know they had.
Technology that provides breathable, lightweight and washable features will be trending, for instance, as well as creating styles that are all-day wear.
More waterproof, travel-appropriate and packable shoes will all be indications of innovation, Goldstein said.
Sustainability & Taking a Stand
This hot topic is only going to get bigger. Costumers are looking for companies that are socially and environmentally conscious, and the interest is increasing with millennials.
Bringing attention to alternative materials and rethinking packaging will be a major opportunity for brands.
Like many companies outside of fashion, loyalty programs are significant to creating exclusivity and engagement with consumers. Footwear brands will be jumping on the bandwagon even more this year, with perks as well as rewards systems being put in place.
As far as personalization and customization goes, Goldstein explained: “It’s a brand builder. Not a money maker.” And Coach, Vans and Sperry, she added, have been great examples of companies taking advantage of this model.