Examining the link between footwear fit features and customer preference in footwear comfort: case study of running shoes on Letsrun online platform

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Information and Service Management (ISM)
66 + 12
Abstract Purpose: Mass customization helps adapt to customers’ preference and maximize customer satisfaction. However, there are undoubtedly several challenges towards realizing this concept, especially in the footwear industry. Based on the case study of a footwear feedback platform, this Master’s thesis identifies the key footwear fit features that have an impact on customer preference in comfort and gives recommendation in terms of footwear design in running shoes. Design: An ordinal regression model is built based on the online customer reviews of running shoes on Letsrun platform to analyze the relationship between comfort rating and the variations in the footwear fit features. Findings: Narrower-than-medium heel width and narrower-than-medium forefoot width are found to have negative correlation with footwear comfort preference, while lower-than-medium toe box height and wider-than-medium heel width have a significant positive effect on footwear comfort preference. In addition, personal arch height is found to moderate the relationships between shoes last shapes, forefoot width, toe box height and the footwear comfort preference expressed by the runners. Research limitations: While certain footwear fit features are found to influence runners’ comfort preference substantially, the conceptual model is still limited in the explanatory power when we check the model robustness through the OLS method. More design features can be included to improve on the model. The generalization possibility and the number of observations are still limited. Practical implication: Shoe designers and manufacturers should pay attention to the heel width, forefoot width and toe box height features to improve customer comfort in general. Moreover, customizing running shoes based on arch height is essential to improve runners’ comfort, specifically for high-arched runners. Originality/Value: This study is the first empirical study to examine the relationship between footwear fit design features and customer preference in comfort level. The study complements literature in product design and mass customization in footwear products. Keywords Mass customization; Running shoes; Customer preference; Comfort; Product design
Thesis advisor
Malo, Pekka
Viitasaari, Lauri
mass customization, running shoes, product design, comfort, customer preference
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