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Shoes & Gender Analysis: Assortment for Adults

This is the fifth post in our series on Shoes and Gender.

The first thing to note is that there are a lot of shoes in the Indix Cloud Catalog. We looked at 1,132,905 in-stock shoes where we’d recorded a price in the previous 30-day period, and the datasets we used in our analysis were pulled the week of February 13, 2017.

The second thing to note is that women and girls have more shoes to choose from than men and boys. Figure 1 shows that 63% of the 1.1 million+ shoes we looked at in the online marketplace target women, versus 27.6% for men. Girls’ assortment outweighs boys’ at 5.6% to 3.9%, respectively.

Figure 1: Gender Breakdown by Percentage

Table 1: Brand Count by Gender

The product assortment imbalance extends beyond product count into brand count. Table 1 shows that women have nearly double the brand selection that men do, and girls have 47% more brands to choose from than boys do.

Next, we took a deeper dive into assortment and pricing in the shoe sub-categories. In today’s post, we’ll look at women versus men, and in the next post, we’ll explore children’s shoes.

Adult women and men overlap in 10 shoe categories. Women have two categories that men do not: Pumps and Flats. Looking at shoe counts in Figure 2 shows that women have significantly more products to choose from in the Boots and Sandals categories than men do (and obviously in Pumps and Flats, since men must buy women’s sizes if they want those). Men have many more Oxfords to choose from, and slightly outpace women’s selection in the Athletic, Loafers and Slip-Ons, and Fashion Sneakers categories.

The imbalance of these latter categories makes some sense, considering that men wear oxfords, loafers, and athletic shoes in many of the same situations where women wear pumps, flats, boots, and sandals. Unfortunately, this gender imbalance feels horribly uncomfortable when you’re on your 6th hour in 4” heels rather than in a nice pair of loafers!

Figure 2: Sub-Categories of Adult Shoes by Product Count

Figure 3 has a few interesting differences from Figure 2. Outdoor and Work and Safety categories with slightly more women’s shoes than men’s, comprise more men’s brands than women’s. As we’ve mentioned before, women have approximately double the total number of brands to choose from.

Figure 3: Sub-Categories of Adult Shoes by Brand Count

Looking at the average number of products per brand, we certainly see more selection for women, at an average of 323 products per brand, than men, at an average of 293 products per brand—10% fewer than women’s brands. The only categories with more shoes per brand for men are Oxfords (30% more), Fashion Sneakers (27%), Loafers and Slip-Ons (32%), and Athletic (33%). These same categories offer more products overall for men than for women, and it looks like the brands within the categories simply offer more selection for men than for women. Fashion Sneaker brands have even been called out for their lack of selection for women (and the bizarre habit of “hiding” a wedge heel in a high top.)

However, when looking at products per brand disparity, categories with more women’s shoes have brands that clearly offer more selection to women than brands in the categories with more men’s shoes. Brands in the Mules and Clogs category offer 71% more products per brand for women, followed by Work and Safety (48%), Outdoor (48%), Slippers (30%), and Sandals (30%). Both from a product and brand count perspective and a within-brand assortment perspective, women have more shoes from which to choose.

Next, we examined the overlap between women’s and men’s top brands. Figure 4 displays the top brands for women (left) and men (right) by product count and median sale price. We found overlap between only five of the top 15 brands for each gender. Nike leads the product count for each gender (by a large gap for men), and its huge men’s product count versus women (20,000 versus 8,000) likely contributes to the Athletic and Fashion Sneakers categories’ products-per-brand counts to be skewed towards men.

Figure 4: Men’s and Women’s Top Brands and Median Prices

When we look at median brand pricing, we find evidence consistent with our Blue Tax findings. Even the shared brands show a Blue Tax, as we see with Nike, Clarks, and New Balance in Table 2. The other two brands, Adidas and Asics, have nearly identical median prices for women and men, which doesn’t help the overall Blue Tax picture.

Table 2: Women’s and Men’s Shared Brands Median Prices

Figure 5 also shows heavy evidence of the Blue Tax across nearly every sub-category that contains both men’s and women’s shoes. The only exception is the Mules and Clogs sub-category, where the median price for women’s shoes ($79.70) is 33% higher than for men ($60.00). The women-only sub-categories of Pumps and Flats further exacerbate the gender pricing gap, as each is below the overall median women’s shoe price of $55.20.

Figure 5: Median Pricing by Gender and Sub-Category

Want to learn more? Check out our Shoes & Gender report now!



Also published on Medium.

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