Comfort Conquers the Global Footwear Market

March 2016

Footwear continues to outpace apparel, driven by a wider assortment of products, the proliferation of athleisure and fashion’s infiltration into men’s and children’s footwear. As brands increasingly look to footwear to boost profit margins, this report sets out to examine the evolving footwear landscape at a time of economic uncertainty in key markets, while identifying core trends and highlighting ways in which brands can successfully appeal to an increasingly demanding and empowered consumer.

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Footwear growth continues to outpace apparel

Footwear continues to be a source for strong growth with a CAGR of 6% over 2010-2015 in comparison to 4% for apparel. Children’s footwear provides robust growth rates as fashion continues to infiltrate the category, while women’s drives value growth increasing sales by US$31.2 billion to 2020.

Asia Pacific boasts the largest market size

Asia Pacific has by far the largest market size valued at US$105.4 billion in 2015, benefiting from the rapid growth of China and India which have jointly posted absolute value growth of US$25.8 billion over 2010-2015.

US is expected to retain the number one spot over China

Interestingly, the US will remain the number one market in footwear despite China overtaking within apparel. As well as being the largest market, the US will account for the highest absolute value growth of US$16.8 billion to 2020.

Sports footwear dominates growth

Sports footwear exceeded overall industry growth, with a CAGR of 7% over 2010-2015, and is expected to continue rapidly growing as fitness and fashion trends merge to create unprecedented demand.

Market polarisation begins to take hold

While aspirational consumption in emerging markets benefits designer footwear brands, rapid expansion of fast fashion brands and their continued investment in footwear creates a polarisation trend within the industry.

Comfort becomes the core priority

Comfort has always been an important factor within footwear, however, with the proliferation of athleisure, consumers are less inclined to compromise on comfort for style.

Footwear drives footfall in stores

88% of footwear sales were accounted for by store-based retailers in 2015, in comparison to 86% for apparel. Creating an engaging and enjoyable store experience is vital if stores are to remain relevant during the buying process.


Key findings

Global Overview

Footwear outpaces apparel
Little shoes provide growth
Sports footwear takes the lead
Luxury boost to industry
Stores retain their importance
A consolidating market

Regional Analysis

Global performance: Asia Pacific generates majority of growth
US maintains its leading position
China dominates growth
Dwindling performance in Europe
Mexico rivals Brazil
Fashion’s final frontier

Trends and Drivers

Private label to fast fashion footwear
Market polarisation
Unifying online and offline
Men step into fashion
Comforts outshines aesthetics
Fashion meets p erformance f ootwear
Case study: New Balance broadens its reach
Untapped opportunities in evolving demographics…
…demanding design and comfort

Industry Innovation

Comfort is the new black
Taking baby steps in smart footwear
Sports behemoths take steps towards sustainability
Luxury sustainability agenda

Key Takeaways

Footwear continues to provide growth
US retains the top spot
Key takeaways
Footwear for the future


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