The Strategy Behind… creating a unique footwear line

Enrico Trifoglio

Unique footwear: Enrico Trifoglio, Team head Product Line Management Motorsport at PUMA, explains the work that goes into creating a new footwear line. 

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Our starting point for creating a footwear line is about meeting a need that people have, regardless of whether it’s a performance or lifestyle line. Our design and development team travels extensively around the world to stay on top of trends, performance requirements and feedback from our team drivers. When the team has gathered back in the office we sit together, share our findings and then the product development emanates from there. Of course, we then bake this in with our business unit strategy and long term vision.

Without a doubt, the team, their passion for product, their varied experience and energy is the most important part of our work. We’re a fairly heterogeneous mix of people, with different backgrounds, experiences and cultures: this helps to always feed conversations, create new ideas and to reach unexpected conclusions. We design and produce motorsport products, but many of our consumers are not petrol-heads and looking for a pair of shoes which screams motorsport out loud. We also talk to people who are looking for a premium product, as well as the more mainstream casual consumer who is trend aware. This means that within our team, different people take the lead dependent on the brief and help us to see the brief from a different angle. Trust in each other is key within the job.

Competition? That’s a tricky question. There are few brands out there which dedicate a large resource, time and investment to develop the greatest performance motorsport shoes – but we do and this allows us to ensure the PUMA Motorsport category remains at the top of its game. In the Motorsport lifestyle business, PUMA invented the low profile motorsport shoes and we still own the category. We’re constantly exploring new takes on the low profile style and restyle after restyling the PUMA Speed Cat remains a world scale icon. Unique and yes copied! Truth be told, there’s much more besides the Speed Cat in our catalogue and we refresh our offer every quarter with new models to make sure our consumers always have a number of styles to choose from.

PUMA’s heritage in Motorsport dates back to the 1980s and early 1990s when drivers such as Gerhard Berger and Stefan Bellof wore PUMA racing shoes in Formula One. It was this heritage that led to the start of our Formula One team partnerships. The PUMA Motorsport category is still going strong today and the brand is the official technical partner to two Formula One teams, Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes AMG Petronas. Our merchandise turnover is very strong and the global media exposure and the association with iconic brands and drivers such as Ferrari, Mercedes AMG Petronas, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso are integral to our success.

From a business standpoint, the F1 industry is impressive. Despite the global credit crunch, F1 has continuously grown over the past few years and in recent seasons generated record revenues. In terms of R&D and innovation, there’s a constant need to improve the performance of products for the drivers, something our teams at PUMA are heavily involved in.

There’s definitely a growth potential for kids and teenagers. Kids are desperate for shoes, it’s unbelievable, but they want cool shoes. Cool shoes are the ones which have a genuine story to tell, that they can discover and live whilst wearing them. We without a doubt have shoes for them, but these guys will always want more…

In F1 there’s always room to reduce the weight of products for drivers. The weight of the fireproof racing product plays a crucial role for engineers in terms of weight distribution in the car and the lighter the race products the better as every single part of the car is essential and the racing product is part of this. For PUMA this is where we come into play in developing more innovative and lighter weight fireproof performance shoes for our drivers.

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