Key Market – Footwear

BASF has been a strong player in the footwear industry for many years. We provide materials for almost every part of the shoe. The portfolio consists of PU foams for high performing midsoles, TPU for outsoles, transfer coated leathers/synthetics for shoe uppers and coatings for midsoles. We observe the following four trends in the footwear industry:



The footwear market has doubled within the last 20 years to ~25 billion pairs in 2019. This trend of strong growth is expected to continue. In order to cope with this volume development, manufacturers will need more efficient processes in their existing factories – mainly based in South East Asia. Another strategy from various footwear brands is to bring the manufacturing closer to the consumer. Building up competitive production capacities in the Western countries will require a high level of automation.



During the pandemic, this trend has gained speed. The goal of many footwear brands is to come up with products made from recycled materials, moving from linear to circular products or using natural and renewable materials. Most manufacturers want to reduce their carbon footprint, and many want to become climate neutral within the next 30 years.



Manufacturers and users both want shoes to get lighter and better. There are various examples of material innovations in high performing low-density foams that enable light weight and often a better energy return. At the same time, the midsoles are highly sensitive to abrasion and dirt. This challenge either limits the use of some well performing materials or contradicts sustainability targets as these shoes may have a shorter lifecycle.



Consumers usually emphasize shoe design when doing their selection. It’s a trend toward individualization and customization. The perception of high quality materials and their look and feel are very important. 

We have strong expertise in ...

  • Design & Finishing
    We translate our color trend research into new inspiring color concepts for differentiation. With our coating material, we set new standards in terms of color, surface finishing and refinement.
  • Material Inovation
    We develop coating formulations which protect and decorate the high performing upper or midsole materials, but also give them unique functions.
  • Process Improvement & Automation
    We support our customers as they improve their production processes by reducing process steps and offering automation concepts.
  • Sustainability
    We offer a diverse range of coating solutions that protect the individual shoe components and thus increase the lifetime of the coated shoes. We provide highly sustainable formulations based on water and natural or recycled materials. This shows how our coatings can be used on circular products.
Vincent Wang
Dr. Vincent Wang
Business Management global