The market for athletic shoes has grown into a multi-billion dollar global enterprise in the last several decades. Athletic shoes comprise about 33% of a $48 billion market, growing annually (National Shoe Retailers Association, 2012)
Athletic footwear includes athletic, sport, and active lifestyle footwear for men, women and children. It may be performance oriented, outdoor oriented, or even casual, but is designed to aid individuals in sporting activities.
One interesting fact about athletic footwear is that it has evolved over the last few decades to also become a fashion statement. Basketball shoes, for example, are worn not just on the court, but as everyday "urban" outfits, thus drastically increasing the size of the market.
Odor in shoes, particularly those worn in sporting events in which there is heavy perspiration, are considered one of the most irksome issues for athletic shoe wear, requiring regular inserts, use of baking soda or other home remedies, and more than a minor irritant for consumers and professionals alike.
Odor in shoes is so problematic that there are dozens of products in the marketplace; ranging from carbon insoles to baking soda sprays.
The average human body has 3-4 million sweat glands. Although sweat is odorless, rapid multiplication of bacteria on skin starts to digest perspiration, thus causing odor. This is multiplied in damp areas that collect bacteria and perspiration, feet and shoes/socks as a prime example (Mayo Clinic, 2012).
The global footwear market is expected to expand to over $250 billion within the next few years. Athletic footwear, worn both on and off the sporting field, is expected to retain its 33% margin, or grow to the mid-40% level, making it a potential $100 billion industry. Most higher end sporting shoes are sold by major package channels, with catalogs and etailers selling about 6% of the market (Packaged Facts, 2009). However, regardless of the channel, the style, the material, the padding, or the other amenities, all footwear shares one common negativity -- foot odor. This odor, caused by the body's sweat glands and bacteria, is amplified during high levels of sporting activity and perspiration. At present, there is no direct competition for an odorless shoe out of the box. Instead, as we will note in the competitive overview, the market is subject to sprays, insoles, and ancillary items designed to mask odor, clean bacteria, or give the impression of odor control.
Odor Beaters will be a branded product line for men's and women's athletic shoes that will be designed to fight and control odor using a three step process that is built into the shoe. Initially, there will be 4-8 styles (coloration, style) offered in various sizes from Children's to Adults (male and female). As the market grows, though, additional colors and styles will increase the line. The premise of the odorless shoe will be based on built in technology that does more than mask odor, it controls it and offers a surface that is anti-bacterial and self-sustaining. Each part of the shoe will contain elements that enhance odor fighting and prevention, but the key to the success of the show will be the patented process of integrating charcoal, baking soda, and a unique polymer called xanthan-4 that not only repels excess moisture, but is anti-bacterial and prevents 80% of perspiration induced bacteria from populating within the shoe area:
Carbon fiber with baking soda padding and xanthan-4
Strength, odor control, first line of defense
Body of Shoe
Leather combined with xantan-4
Breathable fabric that is anti-bacterial
Anti-microbial, anti-bacterial xantan-4
Actively decreases any bacterial growth
Air Hole Openings
Vented with elasticized grommets to stave off moisture
Allows air flow both in and out of shoe
Diasized rubber with carbon included to remove odor and increase cushion
Designed primarily for court action
Support also using carbon-based fibers and odor control gel
Prevents bacteria build-up near heel area
An organization's measurement system affects the behavior of people inside and outside the organization. In order for an organization to grow in the technology driven market, they must use benchmarking management systems developed to control and monitor the entire strategic plan. Unfortunately, many firms implement strategies only around customer relationships rating their performance by financial measurements only. Measurement must be tied to something specific -- it is not enough to simply measure for the sake of measuring, or measuring as an exercise to an end. The modern organization measures for:
Program and organizational effectiveness
Setting reasonable goals and objectives
Recognizing good, better, and great performance
The ability to intercede in time with poor or negligible performance
To inform stakeholders about progress on projects or organizational efforts
To hold x accountable for y
To motivate and promote
To establish what is vital from what is important -- and from what is merely interesting
To celebrate, learn, and move forward in a strategic direction (Bible, Kerr, & Zanini, 2006)
Prepare so productivity is high; check tires, equipment, supplies
Establish scorecard; adherence, levels of down-time
Survey, equipment downtime records
Operational matrix benchmark with experienced group; then set for 80% with inexperienced
Internal matrix survey and continuous operational review
Owner and Staff
Customer service is the idea or provision of service to the customer before, during, and after a purchase. While its importance varies somewhat on a sliding scale, depending on the product, in the case of Odor Beaters, it is vital from a marketing perspective; return client template, and critically the health of the business. One business scholar said that it was "a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction -- that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation" (Turban, 2002). One might argue that true customer service is not just meeting expectations, but exceeding them. In areas in which consumers have numerous choices and the competition is high -- in the case of Odor Beaters competing for the leisure dollar means "Because of the Customer, We Exist."
The basic premise to Customer Service for Odor Beaters revolves around the premise of the Customer Value Perspective. Essentially, this is the view that the customer has about quality -- which is in the eye of the customer. The customer must perceive that they are getting good value for their dollar spent, that it was worth their time and effort, and that there is a seamless integration between service, satisfaction, value, loyalty -- and therefore the extension of the company into profit and longevity (Kotelnikov, 2001). We realize that there are numerous choices in the market, particularly for athletic shoes. Therefore, not only must service (advice, etc.) be above expectations, it must be obvious through social media, the Internet, and at sporting functions and trade shows.
Monitoring/Controlling Strategic Plan
Planning session with stakeholders and investors
Control and monitor costs for informational site and social media
Find vendors to participate in coupons drawing, even event sponsorships
Develop spokesperson network
Moral and ethical production procedures, eye toward ecology
Appropriate levels of staff training
Push performance and comfort, not profit
Obviously, marketing will be designed to specifically orient towards all ages of consumers interested in an odorless athletic shoe. Key testimonials and perhaps videos in the website will ensure interest; provide information as well as key contacts. Odor Beaters success in the marketplace will be focused on the innovators and early adaptors, which will lead towards greater acceptance in the marketplace by increasing style and color offerings, as well as Innovators -- about 2.5% of the population. They have a pressing need for new products.
Early Adapters -- about 13.5% of the population. They wait, but just a bit, as media attention increases, so does their interest.
Early Majority -- About 34% of the population -- a key component. They are somewhat cautious and want to see that the product is proven before investing.
Late Majority -- About 34% of the population. More skeptical, only purchase when a new product becomes mainstream.
Laggards -- 16%, more than skeptical; generally do not accept a new product until more traditional products are no longer available or are completely outdated (The Product Differentiation Curve, 2009).
Odor Eaters -- Balanced Scorecard -- Marketing/Customer Value Scorecard
Means of Communication
Customer Retention and Turnover
Double customer base
End of year statistics
Discounts, coupons, frequent purchase clubs
Development of Customer Retention Plan; Customer Data base, newsletter plan, partnerships to ensure ability to afford and increase use and interest
Constant contact newsletter; appropriate communication for season; rewards for WOM recommendations