These days, everyone is an expert in athletic footwear. They all seem to know what the brands should be doing and think that they could do a better job in pretty much every related field, but there’s a lot to deal with at a big company, not least those 18 month production cycles that are pretty much a lifetime when trends boom then burn out in the space of 12 weeks. Trying to research online is awkward: you have the collision of statisticians and fanboys, and a good view of the market that sits somewhere inside the subsequent car wreck. I found that some snippets of presentations at the University of Oregon were pretty educational in offering some overviews (I suspect that the really in-depth, MBA level talk happened a little later) as part of their Sports Product Management Program. Nike’s Tobie Hatfield and other Nike and adidas management, plus independent experts, talk about merchandising, sports marketing, global transition management, product development and athlete insights. It’s nice to hear about product from professionals, rather than limited edition addled shoe dudes.