What if Apple designed age-friendly shoes?

I have a ‘thing’ about shoes and I do not accept that shoes for older feet should look hideously clumpy.

To understand the frustration (and the market opportunity) just look at the number of older people who resort to wearing sports shoes simply because they offer good cushioning and support while projecting a sporty active image.

So I wondered how the Apple folks would apply their extraordinary ergonomic design skills to the problem? They would probably study the physiology then design something drop-dead-gorgeous we’d all want to buy and to wear. i.e. Age-Friendly. No doubt they would embed some awesome technology as well.

There are 1.5 billion people over 50 on the planet today. Surely worth a thought as to how to provide them with suitable, stylish footwear?M0603-Sullivan-CF_3V_S14_l

According to Footwear Plus a few brands have noticed and have strategies to reach the older market;

Ecco says it’s about being comfortable and feeling good about yourself in the footwear you have on. They don’t market specifically by age group. The brand essence is feeling free, starting with your feet.

Clarks recently switched up its designs and marketing to target consumers ages 30 to 44 and claims focus groups show that its 55- to 64-year-old customer base is responding to the younger marketing vibe. I wonder if they have a media strategy to reach that older segment then!?

Sperry Top-Sider claims that 50-and-over segment is drawn to the brand’s classic styles, like the Authentic Original boat shoe.

Birkenstock is also staying true to its roots, despite its recent renaissance on the runway the brand claims it will “never do anything that will alienate our core customer. They’ve been around long enough to not accept anything less than a comfortable shoe on their foot.”

Looks like Birkenstock has a competitor in Propét (see sandal), whose Rejuve line of biomechanically engineered sandals targets the 40-plus market .

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Other brands that seem to be resonating with older consumers are Rockport, Pikolinos, Munro, Stuart Weitzman, Mephisto, Beautifeel and Dansko’s comfort clogs.

So much for the shoes, how about the shoe stores? Look at this picture and you’ll see low shelves requiring bending and stooping to reach or view products and low seats with no leverage to help customers get to their feet. Again, they could learn some lessons from Apple’s retail design.

It’s all in our book, Marketing to the Ageing Consumer.

Clearly the footwear retail environment needs an AF Audit!