The Athletic Shoe Industry is a dynamic and exciting industry with sales of over $70 billion worldwide. In recent history, increases in product demand were fueled by health and physical fitness trends, but the advent of athletic shoes goes back to the 1800s. Now athletic shoes are common and designed to meet many different consumer needs. When the jogging and fitness craze began in the mid-1970s, athletic shoe manufacturers were dubbed “Adidas and the Seven Dwarfs” because of the success of West Germany’s Adidas company. But the early dominance of Adidas was no guarantee of future success. In the mid- 1970s, Adidas not only underestimated the amount of growth that was about to occur in the athletic shoe market but also the aggressiveness of other manufacturers, such as Nike in the United States. The rise of Nike in the athletic shoe industry is a Cinderella story. A university runner (Phil Knight) and his former coach (Bill Bowerman of the University of Oregon) went into business distributing Japan’s Tiger running shoes in the United States. In 1971, they developed their own shoe and named it Nike. Fiddling with a waffle iron and some urethane rubber led Bowerman to develop the “Waffle” sole. This product improvement gave Nike its initial impetus. On the marketing side, the now famous “swoosh” trademark on the shoes was developed by an art student at a cost to the company of a mere $35! Nike experienced phenomenal sales growth from $14 million in 1976 to $920 million in 1984. Although Adidas remained “number one” outside the United States, fast-rising Nike dominated the domestic market by the early 1980s. In the mid-1980s, Nike had several problems to contend with, including a peak in demand in the athletic shoe industry, quality control difficulties, and a loose and paternalistic management style that appeared inadequate for a billion-dollar firm. As Nike faltered, a new player, Reebok, surged. Beginning its life in the United States as a subsidiary of a British firm, Reebok became a publicly held firm that went on to own its former parent. Reebok’s revenues zoomed from $4 million in 1982 to $900 million in 1986. Although Nike lost its position as number one in market share to Reebok in 1986, it regained it through astute changes in its management style, improved marketing strategies, and product development. During the 90s, Adidas dropped to fifth place in United States market share. But ever the competitor, Adidas has come back and now battles with Reebok for the number two market share position, behind Nike. Other competitors also entered the scene, such as L.A. Gear, whose sales skyrocketed in the early 1990s, driven by a focus on fashion athletic footwear. In recent time, L.A. Gear has lost its edge. In the late 90s, Italian-based Fila surged to third place behind Nike and Reebok in United States athletic shoe sales. It too, has lost its edge. New Balance has done well, pulling into the number four market share position on occasion, focusing on serious athletes and unique products that come in varying widths. Puma, with roots that actually connect it to Adidas in its early days, duels with New Balance for position in the U.S. athletic shoe market. Brooks (owned by Berkshire Hathaway), Converse (now owned by Nike), Asics, Under Armor, Keds, and Skechers brands play more niche roles, but make the market interesting and competitive. And, Adidas now owns its
old rival Reebok! Today, the athletic shoe industry in the United States generates approximately $15 billion in sales annually. As can be seen in this brief history of the athletic shoe industry, it is a competitive market with changing market trends and fads that result in a dynamic business environment. The NewShoes simulation will allow you to experience this same competition, excitement, and dynamism.