Mediocre shoes don’t sell. To be a top selling shoe the product needs to have style, the right price, and performance that sets it apart from its competitors. We’ve compiled tips on how to be the best shoe in a category.

In Heeluxe’s research reports, we’ll compare a test shoe’s performance against our entire database. It’s often a cause for celebration for a brand when they find out their shoe is in the top 10% of all tested shoes for a specific test. When they are an average shoe—or worse, in the bottom 10%–we’ll get asked about how they can improve their scores. Here’s what we’ve found to be effective at making your shoe the Best.

  1. Be a Master of One: There is no single “best shoe”. There is the best shoe for an individual and the activity they are doing. So be laser focused on a single type of customer and what they care most about in the shoe. If they want a shoe to be the lightest, don’t focus on making it the most light and cushioned and low priced and flexible.
  2. Sweat the Small Stuff: Once you’ve focused on one category you want to be the best in, understand every aspect of your shoe that impacts that category. You’ll probably need to modify all of them to make your shoe perform in the top 10%. For instance, we helped a hiking brand make the most flexible boot we’ve tested by targeting the rubber in the outsole, flex grooves in the midsole, shank placement, and even stitch lines in the upper!
  3. Know Your Enemy: We frequently hear that, “This shoe has the best XX that our company has ever made.” First, congrats. Second, that means nothing if your is not better than your competition! If you’re going to have a top 10% shoe you need to outperform every shoe on the shoe wall—even the small start up brands that you haven’t seen yet. Competitor Analysis needs to be part of your design plan, development, and testing.
  4. Invest in a Big Leap Forward: Incremental changes are a common occurrence in the industry, but they rarely create a big enough change to catapult a shoe style to being a top 10% shoe. Big leaps forward create the shoes that change the landscape of a shoe category. Examples include Charles Goodyear revolutionizing “sneakers” by vulcanizing or Nike creating a new running shoe paradigm with their Vaporfly 4%. Not every big leap will work, but you’ll be rewarded when they do. Plan on creating big leaps forward every few seasons.

Heeluxe has a massive database (…which has your competitors in it) and we’ve love to share it with you on your next shoe analysis. Please email [email protected] to learn more.