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Footasylum: focusing on its core customers

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Footasylum takes a highly focused approach to its customers. Its ‘on-trend’ footwear ranges, sourced from both established and emerging suppliers, are firmly and predominantly aimed at 16 to 24-year-old shoppers. That’s a constituency the retailer targets both online and offline, from the student offers that are flagged across its website, to its blog, its stores, and beyond.

Online, Footasylum is one of the 22% of retailers that enable customers to follow on Snapchat. The social platform, known for its strong millennial following, is among seven social channels that the retailer offers. The others include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Its The Lowdown blog focuses on street style, sneaker collections and “stuff”. At the time of writing, that “stuff” included one blog post marking Chinese New Year of the dog, devoted to “the cutest dogs on Instagram”.

Its stores are fitted out in what the company, writing last October as it notified the London Stock Exchange and potential investors of its flotation plans, described as its “distinctive style, tailored to the local market” and making use of “video, music and photography to create lively and relevant environments for its target 16 to 24-year-old customer base.”

Each store varies in order to reflect its local community. The range in each includes brands that have local relevance. This move towards localisation, said Footasylum, was in keeping with its strategy “of catering for different regional demographics”.

In that document, it also described its target customers as fashion conscious, less likely to have dependents and more likely to spend on the way they look, especially on clothing and footwear. This age group, it believes, is “more willing to embrace new trends” that may then be picked up by other age groups, and is also “the most prominent user of digital sales channels”.

Footasylum segments its customers into six core ‘tribes’, each with its own “nuanced demographic and regional profile,” and including the inner city ‘urban’ tribe, for example. “An in-depth understanding of these characteristics allows the company to tailor its product range to each ‘tribe’ appropriately and to protect against a reliance on any one trend,” it said at the time of the announcement, last October.

Footasylum also said at that time that it would be investing in expanding its existing routes to market, in its technology and in its marketing as it looked to “support future growth and optimise its engagement with its customers”. It’s an approach that seems to be working. It reported sales of £89.8m in the 18 weeks to December 30 2017, 33.4% up on the same time in the previous year.

Footasylum was founded in 2005 by David Makin, who previously co-founded JD Sports. The company is now led by chief executive Clare Nesbitt.

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