Entrepreneurial marketers like Bucketfeet and Lechal are taking advantage of the ongoing trend toward sneakerization, the development of hundreds of niche markets within a particular product category. The obvious example is sneakers, which used to be canvas shoes with rubber soles, usually equipped with laces. If you were lucky, you had a (limited) choice of colors.
Today, of course, there's no such thing as a prototypical sneaker. Thanks to sneakerization, there are shoes for every sport, activity, season, age, personality, lifestyle, climate, you name it.
Bucketfeet shows sneakerization in action for the niche of people who want to wear art on their feet. The company recruits artists from around the world and pays them royalties based on sales of sneakers bearing their art.
Bucketfeet shoes are now in Nordstrom as well as being sold directly to customers online from the Bucketfeet site.
Buzz is important for young brands, and Bucketfeet is active on Pinterest, among other social media networks. The brand's slogan is "We believe art is for everyone." But the shoes also have functional benefits that appeal to buyers, as shown at left.
Lechal is taking a different approach. It's segmenting the market by technology involvement. Lechal sneakers are designed with Bluetooth built in so wearers can track their activity and be guided on foot to walking destinations via data from Google Maps.
Originally designed for visually-impaired wearers, Lechal shoes (the brand means "let's go") appeal to the wearer's sense of design and personality as much as to his or her preference for cutting-edge tech gadgetry. Navigation, fitness tracking, fashion--all in one shoe.