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The Four Types of Knowledge: Unraveling the Mystery of Shoe Sizes and Foot Sizes


The relationship between shoe sizes and foot sizes is a complex one, often misunderstood by consumers and even some industry professionals. By examining this relationship through the lens of the four types of knowledge, we can gain valuable insights into consumer behavior, industry practices, and potential areas for innovation in the footwear market.

Known Knowns (I know my foot sizes and shoe sizes)

Known knowns represent the information and skills we're confident about. While valuable, overreliance on this knowledge can lead to complacency.

In shoe fitting, it represents the basic understanding that most people have about shoe sizes(1). Consumers are generally aware that shoes come in different sizes and that they should choose a size that feels comfortable(2). This leads to a common phenomenon where people rely on their "known" shoe size when purchasing new footwear, assuming it will fit correctly. This knowledge forms the foundation of the shoe-buying experience and is what most retailers and manufacturers base their sizing systems on.

Known Unknowns (I know my foot size but I am not sure of my shoe size)

Known unknowns are the areas where we recognize our lack of knowledge, driving us to learn and collaborate.

In shoe fitting, It encompasses the awareness that there's more to learn about the relationship between shoe size and foot size. Many consumers realize that different brands may fit differently, even if they're labeled with the same size. This awareness often leads to behaviors such as trying on shoes before buying or reading fit reviews, recognizing that their usual size might not always be accurate. In response to this, brands often provide size guides and fit recommendations, while some stores offer professional fitting services to help consumers navigate these known uncertainties(3).

Unknown Knowns (I choose my shoe size intuitively)

Unknown knowns refer to implicit knowledge or skills that we have but aren't fully aware of.

In shoe fitting, this includes implicit knowledge that people have but may not be consciously aware of. For example, people often unconsciously adjust their gait or posture to compensate for ill-fitting shoes without realising that they're doing so. Similarly, consumers may consistently buy shoes that are slightly larger or smaller than their actual foot size, based on personal preference or experience, without consciously acknowledging this habit(4).

Unknown Unknowns(I do not know what I don't know about how to fit my shoes)

Unknowns Unknowns are our blind spots - things we're completely unaware of that can lead to unforeseen challenges or missed opportunities.

In footwear fitting, it represents a complete lack of awareness of certain aspects of shoe and foot sizing. Many people are unaware that feet can change size throughout the day due to factors such as temperature and activity level. This can lead to consumers experiencing discomfort or foot problems without realising it's because they're wearing shoes that don't properly accommodate these natural foot changes. What's more, many don't realise that fitting correctly involves more than just length. The need to consider width and volume is often overlooked by customers(2).

Understanding these four types of knowledge about shoe sizing and foot size can lead to better consumer education, improved product design, and more satisfying shopping experiences. It highlights the need for ongoing research and innovation in the footwear industry to address the complex relationship between shoe size and foot size. By acknowledging and exploring each type of knowledge, both consumers and industry professionals can work towards a more comprehensive understanding of footwear fit, ultimately leading to better foot health and customer satisfaction.




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