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Nike and Fashionable Shoes

Essay by   •  September 20, 2015  •  Case Study  •  1,046 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,044 Views

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Tamara Lang, owner of the Runners world, is trying to decide what she should do with her retail store and how committed she should be to function over function.

Tamara is a runner herself—and Runners world grew with the jogging boom. But that has now flattened out and may actually be declining as many people find that jogging is hard work—and hard on the body, especially the knees. The jogging boom help make Runners World a profitable business. Throughout this period, Tamara emphasized Nike Shoes, which were well all accepted and seen as top quality. This positive image made it possible to get $5 to $7 above the market for Nike Shoes—and some of this was left to the retailers, which led to attractive profit for Tamara Lang.

Committing so heavily to Nike seemed like a good idea when its quality was up and name was good. But around 1985, Nike quality began to slip. It hurt not only Nike, but retailers such as Tamara who were heavily committed to them. Now Nike gotten its house in order again. But it is working on developing other kinds of athletic shoes, including walking shoes, and emphasizing engineering function rather than fashion. This forcing Tamara to reconsider the emphasis in her store and to question wether she should continue committing so completely to Nike.

Nike’s move into the walking market is supported by U.S Census Bureau estimates that between 50 and 80 million Americans walk for exercise—with between 15 and 20 million of these considering themselves serious “health” walkers. After several years of internal research, Nike is introducing shoes designed specifically for walkers. Nike found that walker’s feet are on the ground more often than a runner’s feet—but receive about half the impact. So Nike reduced the size of its midsole and groove it for flexibility. Nike also eliminated inside seams at the toe to avoid irritation and lowered the back tab of the shoe to avoid pressure on the Achilles tendon.

The Manager of the Nike walking shoe effort is optimistic about the potential for walking shoes. In fact, she’s convinced it’s a lot larger than the jogging market—especially since no experience or practice is necessary to be good right away.

Many competitors are entering the walking shoe market, but the exact nature and the size of the market isn’t too clear. For one thing, it’s likely that some ex-runners may just stop exercising—especially if they’ve damaged their knees. Further, the chemical and biomechanical evidence about the need for specific walking shoes is not at all clear. One problem is that a shoe made for running can be used for walking, but not vice versa. Only very serious walkers may be interested in “only a walking shoe”. Further, fashion has invaded the athletic shoe markets, so it may be necessary to have many different colors and quality level. But Nike has tended to emphasize function rather than fashion. This may be a problem because about 75 percent of current walkers are women, many of the older, and may women seem to be interested in fashion.

An important question that Tamara is debating, is wether there really is a market for walking shoes. Further, is there a market for a Nike version of walking shoes—that will emphasize function more than fashion? What she must decide is wether she should give a lot of emphasis to walking shoes—while continuing to carry jogging shoes for her regular customers—and perhaps carry running shoe brands other than Nike. And should she put much greater emphasis on fashion rather than function? This would require, at the least, retaining current sales people and perhaps hiring more fashion-oriented sales people.

Just a small shift in emphasis probably won’t make much of a difference. But a real shift to a heavy emphasis on walking shoes and fashion might require Tamara to change the name of her store—and perhaps even hire salespeople who will be more sympathetic with non joggers and their needs. One of the reasons she might want



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