Bootsfinder Ltd compiled this survey based on a questionnaire sent to over 5000 qualified Bootsfinder subscribers, customers and members based internationally; industry news as well as insights gathered from our staff / partners.
Our report contains some qualitative and quantitative data, such as current market size, speculative market forecasts, and other industry updates, as well as market drivers, price trends, and feedback from our 2023 survey.
Companies mentioned: Nike, Adidas, PUMA, Mizuno, Under Armour and New Balance
Sole Plates: Soft Ground Football Boots, Firm Ground Football Boots and Artificial Ground Football Boots
Boot Materials: K-Leather, Natural Leather, Synthetic Leather, Synthetic, Mesh, FlyKnit
The Football Boot (also called cleats in the US) market is expanding steadily, and with key players adopting new strategies, the market is expected to carry on expanding over an extensive prolonged period.
Football boot revenue in Europe took approximately 31 percent of the global market share in 2019, which is the largest area in the current market pattern. North America is the second-largest region, accounting for approximately 29 percent of revenue and global market share in 2019.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global Football boot market size was estimated to be worth US$ 3716.3 million in 2022 and is forecast to a readjusted size of US$ 5008.7 million by 2028 with a cumulative annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1% during the review period. Currently, many players such as Nike, Adidas, PUMA, Under Armour, New Balance as well as some others are playing important roles in Football Shoes industry. The market is not so concentrated for now and is seeing to be more concentrate. The Top 5 took up about 62% of the global market in 2019.”
Pune, April 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)
Following in the footsteps of the Sneakers market, the football boot sector is expected to see a significant increase in revenue between 2023 and 2027. Although the sector became more constrained and competitive in 2022, it is expected to grow as more advanced technologies and materials are implemented. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, there has also been an increase in athletic footwear purchases. This upward trend can be attributed to a general increase in interest in sports.
Global Footwear Market Report 2021-2025: Nike - Going Strong / Adidas - The Closest Competitor / Puma - Remains in the RaceThe Mercurial Vapor II retailed for around £140 when first introduced to the market.
The Mercurial Vapor II was released in two colorways in January 2004: team red and photo blue. Ronaldo debuted the photo blue boots a month earlier, during Real Madrid's match against Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
At Euro 2004, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Luis Figo wore gold ones, while Thierry Henry debuted the red pair in Arsenal's 5-1 win over Internazionale in Milan, scoring twice. During Arsenal's unbeaten season, he wore red or blue socks depending on whether they were at home or away.
The football boot industry focuses on designs that use a variety of materials and technologies. Not only are products made from knit technology or lightweight, breathable, and durable fabrics, but the industry also demands a positive environmental impact. As a result, key market players are aiming to make the manufacturing process as environmentally friendly as possible to produce environmentally friendly boots.
Connected fabrics, GPS tracking, and material innovations such as leather alternatives are becoming increasingly popular. 3D printing is quickly becoming a mainstay of boot manufacturing, allowing manufacturers to meet the overwhelming demand for a wide range of boot designs and mass customisation.
Elite boots that were previously being worn by professional level players are now rapidly becoming acquired at the semi pro and amateur levels. In a landmark change in consumer behaviour, players are spending more on boots and are preferring colour over the conventional black (apart from certain academy standards and more traditional leagues). Consumerism is the key reason behind the growing consumption of boots worldwide as well as the introduction of grey market resellers from an investment / collection perspective.
In the past couple of years, football boots have become a sought-after holiday gift, a particular trend that is expected to boost growth of the resellers and retailers in the US and developed European market.
It’s in the sole
It is critical to select the proper sole plate. It can affect not only performance and comfort, but it can also help prevent injury. FG Football Boots are the most used sole plate and took about 29% market share in 2019.
During the forecast period of 2021 to 2030, the global football boots market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.5 percent.
Secondary market resales are making significant inroads into the football boot market. With the rise in popularity of football boot culture in recent years, there has been an increase in demand for hyped limited-edition boots, creating an opportunity for success in the secondary market. Primary sale applications can be demanding, rewarding digital bots while limiting supply, allowing resellers to profit from resales. As collecting an exclusive pair of boots becomes more important, here's how and why the secondary market has recently taken off.
Memorabilia has become an increasingly important topic in the modern world. Art, cars, watches, sneakers and now football boots.
Furthermore, the hype surrounding launches, combined with limited supply, frequently causes drops to sell out quickly. Bots are digital programmes that buy products as soon as they are released, leaving few opportunities for genuine human buyers. Products are also being "back doored," which means that boots are frequently resold at a higher price on the secondary market. As a result, the vexing "Didn't Get 'Em" message has become a popular meme amongst boot and sneaker heads. Immediate sellout and high demand allow the primary market to increase its average selling price, which in turn increases the average selling price of a resold item on the secondary market.
This combination forces collectors to look to the secondary market for a chance to buy the hottest limited new release. The cyclical effect has resulted in a profitable and high-margin resale business.
A recent Nike drop shows the success of the secondary market. The limited edition Nike Phantom Flyknit Ultra Cirtus drop was released on September 2022, for £245 per pair. Less than one week later, the same pairs were sold for over £400 by a variety of resellers. Like a piece of art, boot resale prices depend on their current demand and historical importance.
Deadstock Older Models
Prior to 2015, these resales were limited to eBay. Due to the unknown credibility of sellers and the lack of authentication practises, this was not an ideal platform for the secondary boot market. However, the absence of a boot-focused (resale) community created an exciting business opportunity for secondary football boot resellers. With this gap in the market, companies such as Bootsfinder Ltd focused on limited edition and retro boots.
The resale market is expanding due to a variety of factors. First, compared to the elite and limited primary market drops, the supply of boots is consistent. Furthermore, platforms frequently provide rewards to increase customer loyalty, such as boot sourcing, sole plate conversions, and a reliable trustworthy service. As a result, these resale businesses have been fruitful.
The pandemic was one of the major factors that influenced overall sales demand for the Older Model / Grey Market / Deadstock Football Boots sector. There was also a significant trend of non-sponsored professional footballers (as well as sponsored) players revitalising nostalgia by wearing older models during training and matches. Prior to covid, prices were lower than retail, and there was a wider range of variety (as opposed to only current packs offered by manufacturers).
Customers thought older elite models were just as competent as current models, but with more options and at a lower price (albeit with no warranty).
Older players who could not afford elite level models when they were younger (perhaps as teenagers) has resulted in increased demand in nostalgic models years later, and thus prices have risen as availability has decreased.
Manufacturers' strict regulations allowing resale of older models, supply chain disruptions (resulting in a lack of certain sizes) and changing consumer preferences are all limiting market growth.
The availability of social media marketing, a low barrier to entry (Instagram shopping), and online payment processing (PayPal) has resulted in increased competition, which has reduced availability and raised prices. New entry resellers with lower quality thresholds as well as retailers holding onto current stock for much longer periods of time are also influencing factors.
Market opportunities are expected to open for established resellers in the market due to an expected continued price rise from manufacturers / retailers (via macroeconomic factors such as inflation), a continued interest in the products (and their history), and a consolidation of suppliers as markets mature (and become more competitive therefore being more reliant on established contacts for supply).
Some of the football boots market's growth drivers include:
1. Growth due to the increasing number of people playing football and the success of Women’s football.
2. Growth due to the increase in popularity of football /soccer in countries such as Saudi Arabia, China and India.
3. Growth due to the increase in sponsorship deals for players, which has increased demand for branded products.
4. An increase in investment from companies such as Nike, Adidas, Puma, Mizuno and New Balance into developing new technologies that improve performance on the field of play.
5. Prices expected to continue especially as manufacturers have kept prices at a similar price for a long time (Top end Superfly in 2010 could cost you as much as £275 compared to £275 to £300 for limited editions in 2023).
6. A continued trend for the popularity of eCommerce and social media shopping providing more choice and competitive pricing.
Analysis from our survey
Our survey asked specific questions to gain insight into our customers preferences and a better understanding of their backgrounds. Our findings include:
1. A pyramid shape mix of football boot buyers from amateur level through to semi pro and professional players and collectors.
2. Most of our customers are based in the UK (Bootsfinder Ltd is a UK company) with a mix of Europe and rest of the world.
3. Most of our participants bought 2 to 5 pairs of football boots a year.
4.Nike was the predominant brand sought after (in terms of page views and site searches) with Hypervenom Phantoms being the top model in preference when asked in the survey.
5. Hypervenom related models (phantom venom, GT etc) were also very strongly preferred - reasons were given for a better wider fit and style especially for midfielders. Nike Mercurials were also extremely popular specifically for winger and forwards (with a narrower fit).
6. Most participants buy to use with a strong rise in participants looking to buy for collection. Many liked older boot models as they were deemed a comfier boot with proven performance, colours that were not current and nostalgia.
7. Price is still important and inflation pushing up retail prices has also taken up secondary reseller prices dependant on product life cycles. This in turn has pushed up the price of acquiring deadstock boots from primary outlets and retailers.
8. Interestingly, individuality and player endorsement were not a strong requirement for many participants stating they were not bothered about standing out from other players by footwear but were more focused on their own style (even kit colours), performance and comfort.
9. We found it interesting that a majority of participants were not bothered about player endorsement - which may be a reason why “since 2020, Nike has not extended the endorsement deals with dozens of their players, including the likes of Sterling, Foden, Neymar, Lewandowski, Ibrahimovic and Neymar.”
Mar 6, 2021 - Nike To Reduce Number Of Sponsored Football Teams? https://www.footyheadlines.com/
10. Obviously comfort, grip, reliability and style were deemed very important to participants, however weight was not deemed as important as what we expected. The manufacturers emphasis might be more hype than required as our customers stipulated performance, durability and comfort as being more important than having a few grams less in weight. This may deviate in terms of position and level of player.
11. Limited edition boots were very much more important to collectors whose views were very different to customers wishing to use the boots. They understood the importance of aftermarket condition, not being used, having a box and no personalisation. Collectors were less bothered about postage costs or returns but emphasis on rareness, reputation and quality were a major factor in choosing a supplier.
12. Those buying for use were quite the opposite where an emphasis on price, returns, postage costs and speed of delivery were important. Some participants would also entertain some usage and previous customisation too.
13. Preference of the original box was not deemed important for most buyers aside from resellers or collectors / investors. Collectors preferred original boxes to be double boxed and expressed disappointment for retailers that did not provide this for limited edition boots.
14. Buying straight from the manufacturers was the most popular method of buying boots due to long warrantees, returns, free postage and trust. This was only just secondary to large scale retailers such as Pro-direct (and Unisport in Europe) as these outlets had a more diverse collection of boots on offer along with after sales service.
15. Resellers were the obvious choice for past collections with preferences towards reputation, credibility, reliability and establishment (website, reviews etc) along with popular reselling online marketplaces such as eBay. Some customers bought via Instagram but stipulated a frustration on some sellers not having the actual product (drop shipping) or being scammed. This could be alleviated by using PayPal protection and we advise that no one pays using PayPal friends and family unless you know and trust the individual you are buying from (or ask the reseller if you can pay the extra to cover the PayPal fee as it is only 3.4%).
16. Finally, many customers stipulated that the reason they bought the boot models they chose was very much because they knew the model well, had used them in the past and liked the look and feel as well as nostalgia value. Players are also renowned for superstition (think Jack Grealish’s luck boots) and can be loyal to a brand that has brought them success in the past. This points to manufacturers targeting kids (or parents) to get young players to use their products at an early age…once a player likes a product range it is quite usual that they will stick with them throughout their playing careers with very little changes throughout (a boot was associated with an identity as a player that starts very early on).
What Boots have you been wearing most this season?
Noé, Soccer Coach, California, Midfield / Medium width: Nike Vapor, over the years I’ve preferred their boots over that of others because I find them to be more comfortable.
Alastair, University student/youth football coach, Forward/wing-back / narrow feet: Nike Hypervenom due to reliability / trustworthiness. Like buying via Nike as has cheap / fast shipping.
Jack, Semi pro, Midfield/forward, Medium width - F50,Vapor, Better fit and better styles.
Joe, youth team pro, midfield, medium width – Vapors / new puma king ultimate for collection as they don't make ‘em like they used to.
Johannes, Pro, Keeper, wide fitting - Tiempo/Magista best boots as adidas doesnt have my size that fits me.
Storm, amateur, Forward, medium/wide fit: F50 as older boots are better looking.