Forecasts speak of a global footwear market that will grow from USD 385.1 billion in 2021 to USD 575.7 billion by 2030, with an annual growth rate of 5.5%. But what is this positive trend due to and driven by? There is an increase in demand for high quality footwear, produced with sustainable systems and characterised by important innovations, all this without forgetting aesthetics and fashion. Among the most popular changes is the shift by industry players from traditional leather to natural, environmentally friendly, recycled and recyclable raw materials. In addition, manufacturers increasingly focus on developing unique designs while also continuing to emphasise the importance of comfort. This trend meets the growing interest in sports activities, both in the gym and outdoors, such as running and cycling, which require specialised footwear. In fact, the sports shoe segment is expected to grow rapidly and will be one of the driving factors behind the exponential development of the entire footwear market. Certainly, the landscape is very competitive – as the main players are brands of the calibre of Nike, Adidas, Mizuno, Puma, Under Armour, Skechers, Fila, Diadora, Asics – but small and medium-sized companies can compete by aligning production to consumer demands. The demand for footwear is driven by the propensity to search for specific footwear for each type of activity. New launches targeting specific sports categories are likely to help accelerate the segment’s growth.
Let us take the example of Navigator, the smart shoe made in India by Ajanta Shoes: it is one of the most revolutionary products in the footwear industry. This shoe counts steps, monitors fitness, detects falls, enables fast dialling, has access to music apps and other customisable features. The commands are made with specific and precise foot movements, it may take some training to use them to their full potential, but this case history gives us an indication of where the industry might be heading with innovation. Companies in this market are progressively incorporating 4.0 technologies into production processes and general business management. Integrations are expected to improve supply chain management, enabling all players in the supply chain to choose like-minded partners, make targeted sustainability decisions and successfully meet customer demand. With the growing emphasis on environmental conservation, consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable shoes, and governments in different countries are also increasingly moving towards valuing those who demonstrate worker- and environmentally-friendly production. Major market players are focusing on producing footwear made from recyclable and plant-based materials. Such as Veja, which sells trainers made from environmentally friendly and organically grown raw materials. The downside that might emerge is the limited purchasing power of some consumers for more expensive sustainable products. On the other hand, people with an upper-middle income are increasingly willing to spend on products that meet green requirements, excellent quality and high performance.