In a recent survey about Footwear Brands and Inclusivity (June 2022), more than 99% of Vurvey Creators said they want to purchase from brands that make them feel valued, included, and supported in the brand experience. Only 1% of the 600+ footwear consumers we spoke with said that inclusivity didn’t matter to them.
In addition to the data, consumers shared over 8hrs of video testimonials about why inclusivity matters and how brands could improve their experiences to resonate with them. The overall sentiment of their comments was positive, offering constructive ideas and feedback.
How Footwear Brands Stack Up
The Footwear Brands and Inclusivity survey engaged individuals living in the U.S. who have recently purchased footwear and consider themselves active in the footwear industry. The list of brands shared represents some of the top revenue performers like Nike, Adidas, Skechers, New Balance, but also newcomers like Allbirds and Lululemons’s recently launched footwear line.
So, how did the brands stack up? Adidas, Nike, and New Balance were top performers, with at least 8 out of every 10 consumers who recently purchased footwear from them saying that the brand made them feel supported and included in their experience.
Brands like Lululemon and Allbirds scored the lowest ratings around inclusivity with footwear creators. Following the scoring activity, creators could share in-depth videos about why they said YES or NO. While a small cohort of creators were not as familiar with Allbirds, Lululemon (footwear), or Brooks as with more established brands, they did express concerns about affordability, designs that didn’t meet their needs, and not seeing themselves represented throughout the brand experience or in their local communities.
“Brands that are inclusive… they make me feel like the experience I’m having in my actual life is really important to them. They create something everyone can experience, even me.”Angela H.
The Need for Inclusivity
It’s no secret that every person (that includes you, me, and everyone around us) wants to feel seen and be heard.
While initiatives to improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has been a trending topic in the business world for over a decade, it’s also been working its way through brand building and the consumer world.
Designing for people who felt “left out” of mainstream experiences gave birth to innovative brands like Girlfriend Collective, showcasing inclusive product design, expanded size ranges, and inspiring marketing content. It also inspired larger companies like IKEA to create projects like ThisAbles to adapt existing IKEA products for special-needs consumers.
Inclusivity can help provide a big unlock for new and established brands, driving not only market growth but palpable cultural change.
For brands who want to design experiences that obsessively include, here are three big takeaways from the Footwear and Inclusivity survey that you can start implementing today.
Step 1: Start Asking Uncomfortable Questions
Like most innovations in the business world, interesting things start to happen when you ask uncomfortable questions. For us, this was the genesis of the Vurvey VIS Score. [Note: VIS stands for Valued, Included, and Supported.] As inclusivity has been an emerging topic in consumer conversations over the past five years, we designed an approach to help creators express themselves using our video survey format. Here’s the 2-part question in case you’d like to include it in your next research engagement.
Do you currently feel valued, included, and supported by ______________ (insert Brand name, Category, or specific Product)?
👉 YES / NO
Why or why not? How might ______________ (insert Brand name, Category, or specific Product) improve the experience to value, include, and support you more in the future?
👉 VIDEO RESPONSE
If your consumers are saying NO, you can bet there are small teams of entrepreneurs working fast to bring a more relevant solution to these underserved markets.
Step 2: Look Beyond Demographics
When you’re starting your next research project, open up your recruiting criteria and collect both data and video in the screening process. As consumers are more than their age, size, ethnicity, and income levels, include questions that could help identify feelings and behaviors. These signals highlight meaningful innovation opportunities that can resonate deeper with consumers.
SKATEBOARDING SHOES FOR EVERYONE?! I’m a mom, not a skateboarder, and my Vans look like my son’s, my husband’s, and someone who is a Trekkie. I’m not a demographic, I’m multi-dimensional.LAUREL K.
Use video questions and responses to your advantage. Ask consumers to record a video talking about their current goals, what existing products they use to help achieve those goals, and what areas could be improved. Video is a game changer for making recruiting more inclusive so that you can see the people and real emotions behind the data. Platforms like Vurvey can extend the research experience so you can hear more people’s insights versus leaving people off of your approved list.
Step 3: Redefine Your Target Market
Creating innovation around those seeking change may have a greater halo effect vs. trying to appeal to everyone that, ultimately, may end up appealing to no one. The Dove Brand by Unilever continues to champion diversity and inclusion every chance they get. They even famously offered to pay other brands to do the same thing.
One insight from the Footwear and Inclusivity study, had creators questioning today’s definition of what a real athlete is and how it might include elements that have been traditionally left out.
Where’s the ‘Dove Moment’ for shoes? In ads, I see different shapes, sizes, and colors of women, but they’re all athletes. Where are the real athletes = moms who chase after their kids or women who are a boss at work and know how to command power with the perfect pair of kicks?DARCY H.
From Concept to Creator
Footwear creators are looking for unique ways that brands can include them in the creation process, from initial concept inspiration to a consumer market launch. As we embrace new types of questions, digital platforms to see and express emotions, we can also expand our design targets. We might end up finding millions of people who felt left out of the “athlete experience” but desire countless ways to feel better and achieve more in their daily lives.
If you’d like to learn more about the Vurvey VIS Score or how your brand can design for inclusion, we’d love to connect and build a more inclusive future together.