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NIKE missed shoe trend

Shoe trend catches Nike Off Guard, but expect a classic NIKE rebound

Nike, the footwear innovator, originally scoffed at the idea of the new trend in toning shoes. Now it seems they are paying the price for a missed opportunity as business is booming for the popular women’s athletic shoes with sales up 25% for May.  Adidas’s Reebok and Skeckers dominate the toning market, with Reebok’s share of U.S. woman’s athletic footwear jumping to 6.7%, or $90.3 million and Skecher’s share tripled to 17%, or $225.7 million.  Nike, still in the top spot for U.S. woman’s athletic footwear, saw its share dropped 7.2% points to 31%, or $412 million.  Nike continues to see a major lose in market share for Women’s sales, down 30%, to 22%.

A survey by SportsOneSource shows that six of the top 10 athletic shoes are toning.  A year ago none of the top ten shoes included toning shoes.  The explosion in popularity of women’s toning shoes has exceeded their expectations, and adidas’s CEO, Herbert Hainer, believes Reebok could sell 5 million pair of toning shoes this year.  In fact, last fall when Reebok intensified their advertising, Foot Locker couldn’t keep up with the demand.

According to the creators, toning shoes are built with an unstable sole to force the wearer to stabilize their muscles, creating stronger leg, buttock, back and abdominal muscles. With a price tag of $100-plus, toning shoes have become some of the most lucrative in the footwear industry.   

Despite the missed opportunity, news at Nike is positive with their Free brand and their popular running shoes.  The Free brand, which the company says can strengthen feet and muscles by simulating barefoot running, plans to launch new versions this fall.  Charlie Denson, president of the Nike brand is hopeful that Free can provide a similar benefit as the Toning shoes.  Nike has shown successes in other areas of footwear, Nike Running sales have improved in the high singles with their market share at 57%. Of the top five Running shoes, Nike dominates with the top three with Nike’s Air Max 2009, Nike Free, Nike Max 95.  Spots four and five go to the Reebok Zig Tech Pulse and the Asics Kayano 16, respectively.  With the success of NIKE’s historic competitive strategy people can expect that it will make up for lost ground in little time.