Necessity is the predominant motivation behind shoe purchasing for men, and their brand loyalty is strong and steady, according to Men’s Footwear Brand Focus Study 2014, the latest report from global information provider, The NPD Group.
This attitude, however, shows signs of evolving, given that men are increasingly embracing fashion and newness in their footwear.
The U.S. men’s footwear market grew 8% during the course of the past two years, which is twice the growth rate of women’s footwear during the same period, according to the NPD Group’s Consumer Tracking Service.
“While two-thirds of men say they shop for replacement shoes only, much of the success that the men’s market has experienced over the past couple of years is due to the fact that men are becoming more interested in style and trends,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group. “This is apparent by the growth of items such as fashion boots, drivers, sneakers, and oxfords in various new materials and colors, which correlates with the growth of the men’s apparel and accessories markets. As men expand their wardrobes, they will need the right shoes to match. Altogether, this uptick in men’s fashion will likely translate to an increase in footwear purchase frequency.”
Compared to women’s footwear, the men’s brand landscape has remained consistent in the past two years, according to the NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service, illustrating that men place greater emphasis on brand and are less likely to try new ones. Men are more likely to say that they are “willing to spend more money for a brand name they trust” than “willing to try new or lesser-known footwear brands,” demonstrating their commitment to brand over price. In addition, the same brands that comprise the top five list for overall awareness are also the top five brands for ownership.
While men are clear in their athletic footwear preferences, their list of casual/dress favorites is more fragmented. Nonetheless, men recognize Nike and Skechers as both athletic and casual/dress brands, and they are the only brands to make the top 10 for both lists.
“When it comes to footwear purchases, men typically turn to the brands they already own and trust, but casual footwear is a place where they are willing to experiment with brands,” said Cohen. “As style and uniqueness join the list of comfort and quality as important deciding factors, this presents an opportunity for new and lesser-known brands to penetrate the men’s footwear market, especially within the casual/dress category. Ultimately, men will not only try new styles from their current favorite brands, but will also be more willing to give newcomers or lesser-known brands a chance.”
An online survey was fielded in April 2014 to members of NPD’s online panel. The survey was completed by more than 2,000 males ages 16 and older living in the U.S. Total returns from the nationally representative sample of males ages 16 and older were weighted to reflect census targets for key demographics.