Back when kids played outdoors in playgrounds, there was some taunt about acting your age not your shoe size. Well, IBM has managed to figure out that the median shoe heel height for women has been dropping for the fashion conscious, quite precipitately it seems over the past couple of years. IBM based its conclusions on tens of thousands of blog posts and other social media references about shoe discussions. They looked for the key footwear influencers, those who were passionate about their shoes and had large social followings online. So the median height has gone from an incredible seven inches in 2009 down to two this year.
Now, I know you are already sharpening your keyboards and going to pounce all over me about this. Whether what women say about their heel heights is more braggadocio than fact (we can assert an analog for the size of men's, ahem) is certainly a good point. And there could be the "Sex and the City" halo effect happening to pump up the pumps, when the movie and TV series were back on the runway two years ago. Also, the discussions could have focused on the highest heels that anyone would wear.
For those of you unfamiliar with statistics: Median refers to the middle measurement of a long list. It usually refers to the middle of the pack. It isn't the mean, or the arithmetical average, which could be a lot lower given the spread of the heel sizes under consideration.
The IBM research found a direct correlation between heel heights and economic recessions: as the economy tanked, women got into taller shoes. But that trend reversed starting around 2009, when women started blogging about kitten heels (I have provided the Wikipedia link, for those of you unfamiliar with the term) and flats.
But forget about the actual number for a moment, and see beyond the results to what IBM is talking about doing. This isn't just some Watson Jeopardy stunt but a real attempt at looking a Big Data in a meaningful way that could have some real business implications. As the press release from IBM states, this technique "could be used by manufacturers in planning future products, by retailers in choosing which products to stock, and by marketers in planning advertising campaigns."
There are many companies that will claim to offer the ability to crunch this kind of data, and feel free to offer your own vendor suggestions (and perhaps your favorite women's shoe maker) in our comments. Just remember to act your age....