Vietnam’s footwear industry intends to corner 80 percent of the domestic market up to 2015.

This bold claim will prove a big challenge in a market of 86 million people who prefer foreign and illegally imported shoes.

Currently domestic footwear companies have failed to win the favour of domestic consumers despite of the fact that they are leading footwear exporters in the world market. In the domestic market, however, companies have not focused on developing their trademarks. Yet more and more Vietnamese consumers prefer products with famous brand names.

A director of a domestic shoes company said that in order to attract domestic customers, his company had to re-import its already exported products.

He said the products benefited from having import stamps and foreign tags attached.

This situation has posed something of a paradox for the Vietnamese footwear industry. It has raised prices and destroyed the trademarks of domestic footwear products.

Hoang Van Hung, an Agribank official, said that he always preferred Vietnamese products and had used many made-in-Vietnam shirts.

However, Hung added, he did not like domestic shoes because they were not as attractive as imported models but more expensive than illegally-imported shoes.

To achieve its 2015 target, the industry will have to seek for some major solutions. Companies are being advised to change their strategies by improving their design, cutting costs and taking distribution and advertising seriously.

According to an examination of the industry, the quality of Vietnamese footwear products is no worse than other countries. However, domestic consumers still prefer imported shoes as they are cheaper and have more varied and better designs.

Domestic footwear companies must pay attention to improving designs. This would be the best way to compete with import shoes, said Nguyen Duc Thuan, chairman of the Vietnam Footwear Association.

Cutting down costs was also an important method.

About 80 percent of the materials used to make shoes in Vietnam have been imported. This has raised the price of shoes in Vietnam .

If the industry adopts these measures, domestic consumers may be more inclined to buy locally produced products, offering real competition to imported shoes./.