Hoka: A Challenger Brand`s Quest for Excellence in the Sports Shoe Industry

Hoka: A Challenger Brand’s Quest for Excellence in the Sports Shoe Industry
Case Code: BSTR679
Case Length: 12 Pages
Period: 2023
Pub Date: 2024
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.400
Organization : Deckers Outdoor Corp
Industry :
Countries : United States
Themes: Innovation, Brand Differentiation, Competitive Strategy,Marketing Strategy
Hoka: A Challenger Brand’s Quest for Excellence in the Sports Shoe Industry
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


The case discusses French shoe brand Hoka’s focus on continuous innovation which led to it becoming a globally recognized brand. In May 2023, Hoka’s parent company, California-based footwear designer and distributor Deckers Outdoor Corp. (Deckers), reported that Hoka had recorded an increase in net sales of 58.5% to US$1.41 billion for fiscal 2023 from US$891.6 million for fiscal 2022.

Hoka, started by French mountain runners Nicolas Mermoud (Mermoud) and Jean-Luc Diard (Diard) as Hoka One One in 2009, aimed to create running shoes to make downhill running easier and faster. After being acquired by Deckers in 2013, Hoka continued to design shoes for first milers, pro runners, ultra-marathoners, trail runners, mountain roamers, and neighborhood walkers. The company’s philosophy was to focus on innovation and technology to develop products which would lead to the brand’s continued excellence in the global athletic footwear industry.

Analysts opined that Hoka’s focus on innovation and technology had become a key differentiator for the brand as it created shoes which offered superior performance and unconventional aesthetics i.e. huge soles, bright colors, and a bold design.

Hoka’s success led to several athletic footwear companies such as American sportswear manufacturer Nike Inc. (Nike), German footwear manufacturer Adidas AG, and Switzerland-based performance sportswear and athletic shoe company On launching their own version of maximalist shoes, thus increasing the competition for Hoka. Amidst these challenges, how can Hoka as a challenger brand compete against leading brands in the global athletic footwear market? What strategies should Dave Powers (Powers), CEO of Deckers, formulate to help Hoka continue its growth in the global athletic footwear market?


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Discuss the competitive landscape in the global athletic footwear market
  • Analyze how a challenger brand can compete against the market leader.
  • Formulate growth strategies for a brand in the global athletic footwear market.



Jean-Luc Diard; Nicolas Mermoud; Continuous excellence; Brand visibility; Brand philosophy; Direct-to-consumer; Differentiator; Unconventional aesthetics; Minimalist design; Trail running; Fly Human Fly campaign; Global athletic footwear market; Nike Inc.; Adidas AG; On

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