The skate shoe market is packed with brands who are all trying to attract a very similar customer base. However, once achieved, the rewards can be monumental. Skate shoe purchasers are generally extremely loyal to a brand and are also very social. As a result, once they've made the purchase, many of their peers are also likely to do so too.
The majority of purchasers of skate footwear are probably not skaters themselves, and a large number have probably never owned a skateboard in their life. However, it's the dream and brand that many of them are buying into.
After a brand reaches aspirational status, 'hip', consumers will buy it, regardless of it's used for the purpose it was originally intended for, or not. Skaters are generally seen as cool. This adds further to the attraction of skate footwear, and is an integral reason that the leading skate brands spend vast amounts sponsoring individual skaters and skate events and exhibitions.
Famous skaters such as Ryan Sheckler and Rob Dyrdek are big in the world of skate and have become leading ambassadors of specific skate brands. In addition to appearing in brand promotional literature and at publicity events, famous skaters such as these have also released collaboration collections of footwear and clothing.
In today's society, stars from minority sports that have traditionally only had limited media coverage, can become hugely famous thanks to social networking and streaming video. In the particular case of Rob Dyrdek, several of his online videos have had well in excess of 1 million views. With his very close links to a skate brand, this is great news for the retailer.
A factor that skate brands are often careful to prevent is saturating their market. While they want to retail shoes, much of their appeal is the fact that they appear to be exclusive and have a cult following. Once you become over-distributed, you loose this exclusivity and can sometimes devalue your brand beyond repair.
One potential solution to this, and one that a large number of skate brands implement is a tiered account structure - mainstream retailers can hold many of their lines, but some key pieces are held back each season for selected skate-stores only. This assists in keeping the diehard skaters with the latest, yet limited-edition releases, but also }has the benefit that|means} you can expose your brand to a much larger market. Skate shoes are now more popular than ever. Although it's difficult for a new brand to emerge, if it can be achieved, the rewards can be huge. The skate shoe consumer can also be very fickle, so brands need to ensure they keep up to speed with industry trends to ensure their brands popularity remains. Once the profile of your brand declines to a certain level, it can be very difficult for it to recover.