Outdoor retail - footwear a good runner
Specialize and differentiate: outdoor shoe market 2014 - latest trends on display at 21st OutDoor in FriedrichshafenFriedrichshafen 2014 - once again outdoor footwear is the second most important sales category behind apparel. The three main factors influencing purchase decisions are: trust in a brand, optimal fit and appropriate functionality. And it’s not just the big players who are performing well. The latest trends are on show at the OutDoor in Friedrichshafen from July 10 to 13, 2014.
The outdoor shoe market is feeling optimistic. And with good reason - outdoor footwear is increasingly being worn for everyday use. "Outdoor footwear is now considered perfectly presentable and has become an important element for retailers to build on. This is reflected in the way the market is developing,” says Jürgen Siegwarth, Hanwag brand manager. American and Italian manufacturers see things similarly. "We are still seeing solid market development with slight increases in certain segments,” comments Thomas Lange, Keen’s director of sales. AKU Managing Director Paolo Bordin explains, "The shoe market is standing firm. There’s lots of stability and growth in certain categories.”
The market is still on the move. "There’s continued high demand from end consumers, although it’s more strongly differentiated and quality-orientated than it was two years ago,” says Rolf Eberhard, marketing manager at Lowa. He underlines this by pointing to the criteria having an ever greater influence on purchase decisions - in particular, safety and trust, but adds that fit, quality and footwear technology are also inseparably linked to these values. This development is strengthening the outdoor shoe market, in particular because specialist retailers are now in demand. "Customers are not prepared to buy just any old shoe, they want the best fit for their own, unique feet,” stresses Jürgen Siegwarth.
In order to continue striding forward, the industry is investing in new technologies and overhauling existing categories. The best example of this is approach footwear. Approach shoes used to be a niche product, but they have now become a popular technical-lifestyle product. This is why, for example, both Hanwag and Italian producer La Sportiva have systematically expanded their approach categories. "Our 'Scratch' and 'Mix' models have good wear comfort and a casual design that also makes them ideal for leisure and urban use - as such they bridge the gap between performance and lifestyle footwear,” says Robert Demetz, La Sportiva’s sales manager.
The barefoot shoes segment is also viewed with optimism, especially by European companies. Dachstein is introducing its new "Spürsinn” (flair/feel) line in Friedrichshafen. These models feature a lightweight construction and a special sole that enables the wearer to directly feel hard rock, soft forest floors, slippery stones etc. and provides precise feedback to the feet. Keen is bringing a completely new concept to the OutDoor. The Uneek lifestyle sandal consists of not much more than two cords and a sole - and provides a unique fit. Thomas Lange is proclaiming the new sandal as a "revolution that questions conventional shoemaking.”
As ever, functionality remains the most important factor for footwear. The fact that American manufacturer Merrell has re-aligned its multifunctional footwear line is a reminder of this. Columbia is also building on multiple areas of use, "Our Ventrailia is a multi-talented all-rounder, whether for short hikes, easier sections of climbing or trail running,” says Columbia from its European headquarters in Geneva. These models have a new sole construction designed for greater wear comfort via built-in ventilation, perforated footbeds and ventilation openings in the midsole. Gore Footwear is also focussing on climate comfort at the OutDoor. Their latest technology "Gore-Tex Surround” is said to be the first time that footwear can also breath through the sole. Gore is presenting it in a special exhibition with all partners at its stand in the "shoe hall” Hall A6.
The OutDoor 2014 is open to industry visitors only from Thursday 10 to Sunday 13 July (Thursday to Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). For more information, please visit: www.outdoor-show.com.