Shoes are a human obsession. Despite being just a piece of clothing, people care immensely about their shoes. We’ve written songs about them and displayed them in museums. People are willing to wait in line for days, pay insane markups or even use violence to get the perfect pair. You don’t see the same loyalty for socks.
It does make sense though. The right shoes can express our style, improve athletic performance, and ensure good health. Everyone has their favorite pair.
Typically when you think about shoes, the stereotype is that women have a greater obsession than men. According to research commissioned by the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, a trade association, the U.S. market for women is larger than for men by several billion dollars.
So does this cultural perception and difference in market value translate into a difference in price between women and men?
We decided to use our product data to figure out, within each brand, is there a difference in price between women’s and men’s shoes? Our dataset includes hundreds of thousands of listings for shoe brands across online retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, and more. From there, we categorized their gender designation and generated statistics for prices.
We found that, for the most expensive shoe brands, there were more listings for women than men (typically 10x more); median prices were several hundred dollars greater for women. But for popular shoe brands available at a moderate price, (think the Nikes of the world), there was roughly an equal number of listings for both genders and the men’s shoes typically cost more.
Before we start to look at the differences between women’s and men’s shoes, let’s compare brands. Among the products tracked by Datafiniti, which shoe brands are the most expensive? How much will a typical pair cost?
When looking at these shoe brands in more detail, there are some big differences by gender. How much does each brand focus on women’s shoes, versus men’s shoes?
For these luxury brands that make shoes for both men and women, is there any significant differences in price between genders?
Now we know more about the high-end fashion world; what about the global sneaker brands that most of us are more familiar with? How do prices for women and men compare? First, let’s look at prices in general for these brands.
Conversely, Vans and Converse offer much more basic shoes that primarily vary in color rather than on styles, construction, or athletic benefit. Both shoe brands have more high-end offerings with the bulk of their listings available at a lower cost. This offering is part of their appeal. You can get sneakers in practically any color you could imagine for an affordable price.
Now, how do these brands differ between genders? Are there more listings for men or women? Will we see the same trend that we did earlier, where women’s shoes make up the majority of listings?
Finally, are there any price differences between men’s and women’s sneakers for these brands?
While it appears that men’s sneakers do cost more, the price differences are minimal when compared to what we saw for luxury brands. Still, this goes against the common perception of women valuing shoes more. For the average shopper looking for sneakers, you’ll probably pay more if you’re a man.
Probably the most glaring finding from our investigation is that people are willing to spend a lot on their shoes. This is the case though for both women and men, despite what you may have initially thought. There was more of a focus on women by luxury fashion shoe brands, but that is only a small portion of the market. For most brands, there is an equal focus on men, and women and prices are roughly the same.