An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Is the shoe marketing process broken?

Jason Robillard posted today about why there aren't so many casual/business casual minimalist shoes on the market. In that post, he talks about the process a shoe goes through from design to store shelf.

And in that process, I saw a short-coming: creation of demand is too late in the process for the good designs to survive. Meaning, by the time wear testers and bloggers are released from their fetters, the stores have already ordered their stock for the year.

Here's the process as outlined by Jason:

1) Shoes are designed by design teams.
2) Shoes are wear tested by select people.
3) Changes are made based on wear testing.
4) Samples are made and distributed to sales representatives that take orders from shoe buyers at retail stores.
5) Shoes are distributed to bloggers, magazines, etc. for reviews.
6) Shoes are manufactured, distributed, and sold to the public.

Jason points out that step 4 is the critical step, as this is what determines what we have access to in the stores.

And this is where I see the problem! Not that step 4 isn't critical -- it most definitely is. But it shouldn't be 4. If people were coming into the stores and ASKING about the shoes before that step, they'd already know there was a demand for a particular model.

I'm a blogger (duh!), but I'm also a wear tester (as are several other bloggers, notably Pete Larson at
Runblogger). I'm constrained by non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) which prevent me, under threat of legal action, from talking about the products that are under design and testing until I'm instructed by the company that I'm allowed to do so (but I will say this -- they ARE cool!). And where do we usually hear about these shoe models first? Yup, blogs, magazines, etc...

What if there were modifications to those NDAs that allowed us to talk about the shoes BEFORE step 4? What if we were allowed to break the news to the public and create the demand, and move the potential customers into the stores to ask THEM to stock the models? Wouldn't the stores be more likely to stock the models that they knew ALREADY HAVE the demand?

So, shoe companies, are you listening? We LOVE these shoes, we LOVE to write about these shoes, and we HAVE an audience! Let us do the marketing for you!!! Let us create the demand before the stores place their orders.

So here's a question: If you heard about a shoe that you'd like to buy (or at the very least try on), with the knowledge that you could influence the stores to stock those models, would you go in and ask them about them? Post a comment and let me know.

1 comment:

derscott said...

Totally agree. I've bugged stores to carry models I thought would be good (Altra, Softstar, Merrell, etc). Only my local independent shop (run by runners) has been in any way responsive. The flunkies at the chain stores could care less.