They were hard to miss at the London Olympics: the neon-colored sneakers worn by many athletes from track-and-field stars to swimmers on the medal stands.
The shoes, which came in highlighter shades, were all over the Games and made by companies big and small, from Nike Inc. to Saucony.
According to consumer research group NPD Group, athletic shoes in blue, pink, red, and green made up just 14 percent of sales from July 2011 to July 2012, while black, white, and gray accounted for the bulk of the market. But analysts say after the intense exposure they received at the Olympics, bright hues will probably gain a bigger foothold in the $13 billion athletic shoe industry.
“When you offer the product and put it into the spotlight, it gives an opportunity for that product to sell and that’s exactly what’s going to happen,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD.
Shoes in neon shades made their debut a few years ago, when companies began using substantially lighter materials in the construction of their shoes, making running much easier. Brands wanted their innovative products to stand out, and as neon became more fashionable, companies jumped on the trend to get their shoes noticed.
“We’ve seen some pretty significant advances in technology taking weight out of shoes. And I think one of the ways brands were able to draw attention to new technologies was through color,” said Matt Powell, an analyst at SportsOneSource, an industry research firm.