Marketing: The Shape of Shoes

The shoemakers of the U.S. would be happy indeed if men were as vain as women are. American women impulsively buy shoes to match mood and outfit, acquire an average of one new pair every three months. The typical American man is far less affected by this urge: he buys shoes hardly once every eight months.

This lack of male vanity is the bane of the $5 billion-a-year shoe industry, and a chief reason that its sales have lagged behind the nation's economic growth. To remedy the situation, America's more than 1,000 shoe manufacturers are rapidly changing shapes, styles,...

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