trend insight

How Consumers Shop for Footwear


In-store service and brand/product assortment both top the list of important criteria for consumers when they are shopping for footwear, according to our most recent survey.

Of those surveyed, 88% told us the sit-and-fit experience at a store is somewhat or very important to them when shopping. And when asked about the in-store element that makes the biggest impression on them,  41%  said brand/product assortment was most important, followed by a “good and thorough fitting” (21%) and price (19%).

More than 80% of consumers told us they look at a store’s website, or sometimes do, before shopping in a store, with the majority saying they shop at a brick-and-mortar store for footwear three or more times per year.

We also asked about socks and insoles, and how consumers feel about these items being recommended to them in-store. You’ll see some interesting replies in their open-ended answers.

This survey conducted by MESH01 included 316 respondents, men and women who are active and purchased footwear in stores. Trend Insight is a feature within Footwear Insight that delivers research conducted on the MESH01 Platform. MESH01 collects data from a select panel of active and outdoor enthusiasts.

Selected Comments

When shopping in a store for footwear, what do you feel is the best approach for the sales associate to suggest socks or insoles to you?

I think the best approach is getting to know what I currently use at the moment, what my issues are if I have any, and what I want more of to make me feel comfortable with socks and insoles. Female 31

Suggest it after a shoe is chosen, but with no pressure by the associate. Also, offering a discount on socks or insoles with purchase of shoes isn’t bad. Male 47

I’m more apt to purchase if the recommendation comes from a personal perspective. “I use these, or I have these” are definitely things I love to hear. They have a bit more insight on the product so it’s more sellable in my opinion. Female 45

Get an understanding first about
general wearing habits and any potential concerns that may require specific insoles. Female 28

Recommend a sale with comments about why they like the socks and/or insoles. Female 38

If it is brought up during the process. Don’t start out with the upsell. One time I mentioned I got blisters and they recommended new socks that are now my favorite running socks. If they had brought that up earlier, I would have brushed it aside. And if it doesn’t come up, just at the end say “need any socks today?” — a light touch. Female 37

By asking questions about my needs, and making recommendations based on what they are. Male 47

Asking as I try on the shoes. Female 22

Asking me if I am open to a suggestion to make my footwear more comfortable. Female 51

It depends on the type of footwear I am purchasing, but typically it is good to offer it when you’re trying on shoes so you can see the difference in product. Female 30

Asking if I would like a recommendation for additional products before introducing something I haven’t mentioned is very important. Nothing puts you on the spot and makes you feel uncomfortable like someone upselling you when you’re already making a purchase. Female 33

Ask what you currently use and what issues you might be having, and how the socks/insoles could solve those issues. Male 25

After I have already decided what shoes I’m going to purchase is the best time to ask me if I want socks or insoles. I am mostly focused on trying to choose the shoes I want when I’m trying them on. Female 44

Casually mention that they also sell socks and insoles that many customers find helpful in finding the right comfort level. Male 60

Just ask: “We have some great socks and insoles available. Are you interested in hearing about those?” Female 33

Gradually ease into it or offer a sample try-on pair. Male 34

Ideally, they ask questions to help identify potential issues that could be improved by socks or insoles. Taking a look at toes and feet could illustrate the need for better socks. Asking about how I run and other details. Male 53

May I interest you in our best-selling socks and insoles? Female 34

Ask, “How are you on socks?” Female 39

Just saying “to get the most accurate fit, I recommend trying with the sock weight you normally would wear.” Female 56

Ask if my socks and insoles are working out for me. Male 68

Causally introduce the product with an intriguing display. Female 31

Asking me before I check out, not at the register. Female 38

Let me know what socks work best for the shoe, or if there is a discount if I buy today. Or just ask if I need any while I am there. Male 30

Start a conversation first, then ask me. Female 27

I like when they tell me what they use. I think if they have access to all the products in the store they probably use the ones that are the best! I also like for them to tell me what are the most popular items people buy. Female 45

Promotion, or deal during the fitting process. Less likely at the checkout.
Male 29