Sportsman Shoes has been a leader in the shoe industry for more than thirty years. Sportsman manufactures and sells athletic shoes for all types of sports. The company has pursued a low-cost strategy in order to sustain their success. They sell a limited number of shoe designs and have held costs low through manufacturing efficiency and standardized operations. However, the past five years have been a struggle at Sportsman. The shoe market has seen a rise in the availability of low-cost imported shoes that has threatened Sportsman’s competitive position. As a result, company executives have decided it is time for a strategy shift. Sportsman executives have done extensive market research and have determined that many niche athletic shoe markets exist where athletes are willing to pay more for shoes designed to meet the needs of their unique sport.
There are very few competitors in these niche athletic shoe markets, and most do not have Sportsman’s past experience in keeping control of manufacturing costs. Sportsman has determined that with talented shoe designers in place, they can manufacture athletic shoes to meet the needs of the niche markets using their current manufacturing facilities and employees. By designing shoes that have features that differ from competitors and meet the specific needs of a new group of customers, Sportsman believes the company can create a competitive advantage. Further, while their shoes will not be as low-cost as they were in the past, they will likely be able to sell their shoes for less than market competitors and still make a healthy profit. Therefore, Sportsman has decided to shift from their current low-cost strategy to a differentiation strategy and will begin production to make specialty athletic shoes.