February 27, 2023
Footwear brands are asking Heeluxe how they can win Most Comfortable Shoe after reading the “Best of 2022” post. This article provides a blueprint on how to exceed your customer’s comfort expectations and perform better than every other shoe we test.
1. Fit is the New Foam
Fit is the #1 indicator of comfort. While it used to be difficult to quantify fit, new tools like SmartLast make measuring the fit of your sample or production shoe fast and accurate. The most comfortable shoes in every category will have the right amount of wiggle room in front of the toes and be slightly loose around the ball of foot and pinky toe.
2. Insoles are Critical for Comfort
Too many footwear brands use inexpensive and ineffective insoles that lose their cushioning performance too quickly. Insoles need to provide cushioning for at least the first 100 miles that someone will walk in your shoes. Machine testing is a great way to evaluate the performance of your insoles compared to your competitors. Impact testing shows us that the most comfortable insoles have low Force and low Penetration Percentage (if you’re not sure what that means, drop us an email!)
3. Know What Your Customers Expect About Your Fit
Your customers know a dress shoe is not going to fit like a hiking boot which won’t fit like a running shoe. Understanding what your customer expects from your shoe fit is critical to reaching maximum comfort. There are three steps to evaluating these expectations:
-How does your customer expect shoes from your specific category to fit
-How do they expect your brand to fit compared to your competition
-How consistent is your fit across all of the styles you offer (if a customer buys a W8.5 in one style, is she an 8.5 in all of your styles?)
Combining sensor based fit testing with perception/subjective testing is a great way to fully understand what your customers expect from your fit.
4. Know Everything About Your Competition
Your customers wear shoes from many other brands. To make the most comfortable shoes you must understand how every one of your competitors is performing for fit, cushioning, materials, returns, and value. Heeluxe recommends that every brand develop a performance database that you can use to benchmark your shoes against your competition.
5. Know what influences Perception
Comfort is all about understanding what influences customer perception. As mentioned earlier, fit and cushioning are keys to comfort. Other features of your shoe, like how hot the foot gets in the first 90 seconds of wearing your shoe, are subtle but impactful ways that you can use to your advantage to improve comfort.
6. The Best Shoe From Last Year Wont Be The Best Shoe This Year
Shoes are always getting better. The most cushioned running shoe from 2013 is barely average for 2023. If you want to be the most comfortable shoe in 2023, you need to update the comfort standards you were using in 2022. Setting annual goals for comfort improvement will keep your footwear brand’s shoes on more customer’s feet and at the top of Heeluxe’s “Best Of” lists.
When you’re ready to measure your comfort against the best shoes in Heeluxe’s database, please contact us at (firstname.lastname@example.org). See you on the Best of 2023 list in December!