New data by The NPD Group, Inc. a US-based market research company, has revealed that the physiological footwear category is booming. Physiological footwear's unstable sole construction simulates barefoot walking on soft, uneven natural ground, thus activating the small muscles throughout the body.
According to NPD, the category's sales have increased four-fold during the 12 months ending November 2009 vs. the previous year. NPD has calculated the US market to be worth $76 million, in the four retail channels that the company tracks. Estimates by the trade magazine Footwear Insight value the worldwide market to $100 million. The vast majority of US sales are credited to women who buy the footwear for their toning and shaping effects.
The rise of physiological footwear has had a clear impact on the walking category, NPD says. Physiological footwear now generates almost 25% of the walking volume in the US. Sales of walking footwear without the physiological function have gone down by 12%.
Among the brands to benefit most from the boom is category inventor MBT. The Swiss company that invented the concept of unstable footwear has sold more than five million pairs in over 30 markets and experiences double-digit growth.
As the only brand whose functionality is proven by extensive academic research, MBT remains the leader in most markets. Unlike competitor brands, it doesn't solely focus on female toning and shaping but is also recommended by doctors to alleviate back and joint pain.