The Portuguese footwear sector witnessed a paradigm modification in the past few decades and is now a reference within the national economy, due to a strong investment in promotion, training, innovation and quality, implemented over the years.
A case study, not unnoticed at the Portuguese Universities classrooms. “Why do we use the footwear sector as an example? Because APICCAPS, particularly, knew how to do a positive projection of the Portuguese Footwear. First of all, internally, among those who have the major influence on the construction of the public opinion: the media sector. A work that shouldn’t be seen as an isolated task but as an effort made over a whole decade, demonstrating and enhancing the good examples on the footwear industry”, states Vasco Ribeiro, professor at the Faculty of Arts from the University of Oporto, who uses the footwear sector as an example of breakthrough and communication strategy.
According to the marketing researchers’ view, once the effort on the quality improvement of the Portuguese footwear was accomplished, the second phase was the treatment of the projected image on a strategic plan, applied primarily on the national media and then internationally.
“Through design, projection of the Portuguese brand and positive differentiation, the national footwear strategically reached a set of areas of fashion icons, such as the artistic and athletic areas, which started to wear Portuguese footwear”. Vasco Ribeiro highlights the importance of having the products on specialty magazine covers. “Furthermore, conditions are being created in order to have national footwear on Vogue Italia and other reference publications, which is extremely important”.
Allied to the improvement of the product identity, primary material and the promotion of a culture of communication, is the vigorous awareness of the Portuguese entrepreneurs. To meet the market demands and the consumer’s needs, a marketing perspective was introduced in the sector.
"Nowadays is good to see new companies already with a strong and solid marketing strategy. I’m talking, for instance, about the product packing and adaptation to the consumer: the basic principles which are lectured in marketing classes and are assimilated by this young brands”. Amélia Brandão, professor at the Faculty of Economics from the University of Oporto, believes the companies have been making the right choices regarding the development of marketing strategies.
Due to the awareness and added value by the entrepreneurs, the college professors have been increasingly talking about benchmarketing, or how to replicate the best footwear sector practices into other national economic sectors.
“I believe there is possible to make a transfer of know-how and look at the footwear sector as an inspirational milestone, mostly at marketing and brand creation levels. This self-sufficiency in marketing and branding can be learnt from the footwear sector examples.”
Besides marketing and communication, the connection between the Portuguese footwear and the academic community are equally visible in another strategy: innovation. In the past few decades, the Footwear Technology Centre of Portugal (CTCP) headed along with several universities, public institutions and footwear companies, the development of more than two hundred technological solutions, which are currently being exported all over the world.