Sneakers are more than just an article of clothing, they can be the difference between feeling good during a workout, or constantly checking the clock to see when it’ll be over. For decades, brands such as Nike, Adidas, New Balance and others have made a name for themselves in the sneaker world, becoming household names in the process. But, in recent years, a new company has broken into the spotlight: Hoka One One (pronounced oh-nay-oh-nay, for curious sneakerheads). 

The company, which prides itself on footwear that goes beyond performance gear to serve everyone from the casual dog walker to the ultra-marathon runner, has been gaining traction with its orthotic soles and optimistic colorways. 

So who is snapping up this shoe? And what’s the appeal? 

Let’s start with the basics of the Hoka target market.  As the data show, 30% of U.S. adults who are aware of the brand are currently favorable towards it. 

Compared to other shoe brands, favorability is lower. By comparison, New Balance favorability is at 48%, Adidas favorability is at 40% and Nike favorability is at 35%. That said, with just a 5% difference between Hoka and Nike favorability, it’s clear that Hoka may be starting to close the favorability gap between its competitors.  

Becoming a Household Name, One Step at a Time

When it comes to current experiences with the brand, 9% of U.S. adult survey respondents own a pair of Hokas, while 6% plan to buy them. However, with 67% unaware of the company, it’s clear that there’s still a ways to go before Hoka becomes a household name. 

Owners of the brand are the most likely to be under age 35, but the highest percentage of intended owners (37%) are in a later life stage (age 35 to 54). Women are more likely to plan to buy Hokas than men.

A Tale of Fitness and Fashion 

Given the fact that Hoka has positioned itself as a shoe designed for exercise, it may come as no surprise that those who own a pair also report being frequent runners who feel passionately about health and like to use fitness tracking apps. 

However, intenders are the most likely to say fitness is not an interest of theirs (19%). More on that below.

But fitness isn’t the only appeal; Hokas have become a much-hyped fashion shoe. While current owners may have been attracted by the promise of a great workout shoe, those who plan to buy a pair of Hokas are the most interested in fashion and are the most impacted by fashion trends.

However, both owners and those who plan to buy a pair of Hokas say that social media does impact their purchases. This means that those targeted in-app ads may be particularly effective in converting interested bystanders into paying customers. 

Clearly, the Hoka hype is just beginning. Although awareness is still lower than other household shoe brands, strong interest from younger adults and women may continue to win the brand favorable traction. And although Hokas may have initially appealed to the health and fitness crowd, the fashion-world now seems ready to embrace the shoe’s design and run with it.