Hoka Shoes

Hoka just went into kids.

My thoughts…

The interesting story here, isn’t that HOKA is getting into kids shoes. It’s that it took them so long.

And maybe it isn’t good a thing?

While HOKA I think still has a long way to go on their core running product (it’s only just now, 5 years after Nike they finally have a competitive super shoe), this mass strategy is timely to capture the current brand position and awareness so is strategically (and economically) valuable.

Too often I see brands (especially new ones) trying to do too much too soon. A new running brand often thinks they need to launch with a road shoe, a trail shoe a recovery shoe, a casual shoe …and 5-6 colorways of each. There’s always another style/category/option that could be added.

Doing more with less is optimal for many reasons. It allows a brand to dial in design and performance through an iterative process instead of reinventing new styles. It allows mass production techniques to reach a critical mass to enable innovation and production efficiencies. It reduces topline tooling, logistic and overhead numbers and increases margins and revenues through better costing and scale.

But here’s the problem for HOKA.

"Movement is good magic. For all of us.
And sharing it with as many people as possible
is our whole reason for being. " -HOKA “About” section

Trying to be all the things isn’t only bad for business, it’s bad for brand. And this is my concern with this HOKA direction. HOKA started the maximal running thing and rose on the fat and ugly normcore shoe trend. HOKA is so mainstream that most the moms wearing it wouldn’t know a Clifton from a Rincon (to be fair, I don’t either, they all look the same). HOKA is mainstream.

And maybe that is OK. But maybe, further diluting the brand DNA from sport (it was started by runners) leaves HOKA without relevance? What makes a kids HOKA a HOKA? Why does a kid want a HOKA or a runner want a HOKA or a mom want a HOKA?

"we make gear for pro runners and first milers,
ultra-marathoners and mountain roamers,
neighborhood walkers and wild trail runners,
that lets moving go beyond performance. -HOKA “About” section

If HOKA is moving “beyond performance” and for as many people as possible what is HOKA?

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I think this quote from the OP article speaks volumes here:

“We don’t see this as just a running brand,” Deckers CEO David Powers said in October. “This is a running, trail, hike brand that is more like a North Face” than Brooks running shoes."

Hoka started as, and still remains in part, a run specialty brand but has evolved into an overarching active lifestyle brand. They make running shoes that just happen to double as comfortable walking lifestyle sneakers.

There’s more to the running market than competing with Nike super shoes. Brooks is the market share leader in running and has 1 plated super shoe.

As for moving into kids, I think it’s great for Hoka. Children need new shoes every 3 months on average (fast turnover) & the top 3 styles they chose are perfect for kids: bright, colorful, and rugged. Kids usually dig what their parents wear too.

On top of that, the global kids footwear market is projected to grow by $18b from 2021-2026. The global run specialty market is projected to grow by $2b by 2030.

Seems like a lot of upside for a brand that already has strong momentum.

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They’re also legislating shoes.

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