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Identifying footwear purchasing trends

Fashion trend analysis is often used by top footwear manufacturers to identify the next best-selling lines.

by Stuart Morgan

Image © Rawpixelimages | Dreamstime

Companies that launch new footwear styles are generally very interested in the future. For example, making the wrong colour product for a particular season can lose sales. While some of the larger organisations employ personnel dedicated to investigating trends and cycles that are likely to prove popular with consumers in future seasons, other footwear companies commission specialist fashion trend analysis consultancies. These external agencies are tasked with the same job – to investigate the choices consumers are likely to make years in advance, and so help their clients decide which styles, materials and colours can be expected to sell.

One size fits all?

Out of necessity, cultural adjustments may be required when a footwear manufacturer decides on future productions for different markets. An in-depth knowledge of cultural attitudes can make the difference between a successful launch and a failure. There have been reports of global retail chains opening stores around the world, including Europe, the Americas, Asia, India and the Middle East, and stocking the same styles of footwear and apparel in every outlet. Sometimes this works, but retailers usually recognise the need to take strong cultural differences into account when they enter new markets.

While a normal trend analysis report focuses on what is expected to sell well, for example, two years in advance, research into attitudes towards more original conceptual designs can reach five years into the future.

Using home-grown talent

As mentioned at the outset, rather than hiring an external agency, footwear manufacturers sometimes use their own teams of experienced buyers and designers to decide what should appear in each new season’s collection.

Regular in-house brainstorming sessions may take place at which members of staff share their observations on trends emerging on the catwalk and what they see being worn on the street. When a company’s people are passionate about creating and sustaining a brand that prides itself on the ability to spot emerging trends and create highly desirable shoes, accurate predictions and a strong demand for its products can result.

Although a company may make considerable effort to identify evolving attitudes, it is almost certainly necessary to design shoes which feature a stamp of originality. This would avoid simply ‘following the pack’, which would mean producing footwear that would be basically similar to that manufactured by every other footwear company. 

Fashion trend analysis undoubtedly plays an important role in helping shoemakers to decide what to produce a year or two down the line. Whether this is done by using an outside agency, calling upon the knowledge and experience of staff members, or using a combination of the two, it is an exercise that successful companies use well, and will continue to benefit from for the foreseeable future.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 44 of the July/August 2020 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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