SHOE SIZES: NEW BALANCE TARGETS OLDER DEMO; AIRWALKS AHEAD
While footwear companies "struggle to eke out gains in
shoe sales, New Balance is riding a boom -- specifically,
the baby boom," according to Joseph Pereira of the WALL
STREET JOURNAL. Using a "flashless formula" and an
"expansive range of widths tailored to an aging" population,
New Balance recorded a 16% gain in sales, to $560M on '97.
Footwear Market Insights President Mike Kormas said New
Balance "is becoming the Nike of the baby-boom generation."
Kormas said that while the average age of a Nike consumer is
25 and Reebok is 33, the average age of a New Balance
consumer is 42. Pereira reports that New Balance's "older-
age niche has some potent marketing virtues," since
customers "are less fickle, so the company doesn't worry as
much about fashion swings." President Clinton, Steve Jobs,
and Dustin Hoffman all have been seen wearing New Balance
and Pereira adds that New Balance will "more than triple its
marketing budget" this year to $13M (WSJ, 1/16).
DAY IN THE LIFE: In today's HARTFORD COURANT, fashion
reporter Andrew Julien accompanies 18-year-old Brian Salerno
to the mall to pick out a pair of sneakers. Julien writes
that Salerno "likes Nike, but find its shoes a little on the
expensive side. Like many of his friends, Salerno opts for
a new kind of athletic shoe quickly gaining ground with
teenagers -- skate shoes." Salerno selected a $30 pair of
Airwalk sneakers (HARTFORD COURANT, 1/16).
SHAQ MOVES: In N.Y., Richard Wilner reports that Reebok
"hopes to change the distribution of its Shaquille O'Neal
shoe." Under a "new plan, the Shaq shoe will be given wider
distribution through stores like Sears, Kohl's and Mervyn's
and not through specialty stores like Foot Locker. Shaq has
more of a broad-based appeal Reebok feels is better served
through the wider distribution" (N.Y. POST, 1/16).