Outdoor footwear brands are doing something right. The NPD Group reported that outdoor footwear dollar sales increased 17 percent in the last year, ending June 2015. The growth is significant because the category grew just one percent the previous year.
According to The NPD Group, hiking/lite hiking and cold/all-weather boots, which together comprise three-quarters of the market, both experienced a surge in sales. Hiking/lite hiking grew 22 percent, after no growth the previous year. Meanwhile, growth in cold/all-weather boots more than doubled, by 17 percent.
“Consumers today are looking for products that reflect their values. They want products that are versatile and yet authentic. For outdoor footwear brands to succeed today, it’s critical for their products to strike this balance,” said Matt Powell, sports industry analyst, The NPD Group. Powell noted that consumers, especially Millennials, are not looking for “one and only” products. Instead he said they search for footwear that can be used for multiple purposes.
The top five outdoor footwear brands overall were Merrell, Keen, Nike, Vasque, and Salomon. The popularity of these brands mirrors the men’s market, but other brands, including Sorel and Timberland, were among the top five in women’s and children’s categories, respectively.
The outdoor footwear segment is not unlike the rest of the market. It is also directed by fashion trends. Powell said, “It’s always about fashion. While men lean towards outdoor footwear with an urban focus, women seek stylish and feminine, and the kids market is more function driven.” He added, “These wants and needs are important for brands and retailers to keep in mind as they determine how to position and market their outdoor footwear products.”