The market for athletic shoes is not an easy one for product manufacturers. There’s tons of competition, and staying in step with rivals often means shelling out millions to professional athletes in endorsement deals.
And if you’re not competitive in basketball, baseball or the other standards, where do you go to expand your sales base? If only you could take a “sport” that doesn’t require any sort of performance footwear and pretend that it does…
That’s exactly what K-Swiss is doing with its new shoe “the Grandmaster,” a $110 trainer that’s being designed for the esports market. Esports, in case you’re not aware, is what we’re calling competitive video game playing.
The market for esports is actually huge right now. It’s growing by 40 percent year over year, and some estimates believe the market will be worth $1.5 billion by 2020. So we’ve established it’s a sizeable target, but just what, exactly, does a shoe designed for competitive gaming… do?
According to Bloomberg, the shoe’s big design payoff is that is allows wearers to easily kick off their shoes without having to use their hands, so they can keep them on the controls. Cool
But the other angle, it sounds like, is capitalizing on the fact that many game manufacturers are taking the same approach as traditional sports teams: selling franchises and then creating team-specific merchandise. So maybe K-Swiss can make it work by establishing branding partnerships with some hot new game for the double whammy of gamer cool.