Industry Insights & Trends

Sneakerhead Culture

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Sneakerhead culture is said to have begun in the ’70s and ’80s in New York City, around the same time Air Jordan was introduced into popular culture. The industry generates about $60 billion annually, with hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on branding, research, and development.

Sneaker Culture-History

  • The demand for trendy athletic footwear emerged in the 1970s when Farrah Fawcett’s iconic aerobic wear inspired people to purchase sneakers, athletic tights, and headbands.
  • Sneakerhead culture is said to have begun in the ’70s and ’80s in New York City, around the same time Air Jordan was introduced into popular culture.
  • As Americans began jogging and working out for fun, athletic wear became more accessible and trendier. This created a high demand for athletic shoes in the 1970s.
  • Sneakerhead culture became very popular in the 1980s when Nike signed a historic deal with a then-emerging star, Michael Jordan, the third overall draft pick for the Chicago Bulls.
  • Nike’s “iconic black and red Air Jordan 1 sneaker was released in 1985 for $65. Ironically the unique shoes did not meet the NBA’s dress code, and Jordan wasn’t allowed to wear them on the courts: however, he decided to wear them anyway.”
  • Nike decided to pay the $5,000 fined Jordan for wearing the shoes, a smart marketing opportunity that paid off, as Jordan went on to win Rookie of the Year, causing the Air Jordan shoes to sell out.
  • Today the Air Jordan brand is synonymous with basketball culture and hip hop. Jordans is now more than a shoe but has become a global symbol and emblem of sneaker culture.
  • Another factor that propelled the sneaker culture was the hip hop culture. In the 1980s, “sportswear and hip-hop culture collided when the hip-hop group Run DMC released their groundbreaking track, My Adidas.”
  • The song was a hit, not only because the rappers were talking about sneakers, but because it represented a paradigm shift in hip hop fashion. For the first time, rappers’ clothing reflected the style of the streets and the basketball courts.
  • The arrival of basketball legend Michael Jordan’s signature Nike Air Jordan 1 coincided with the rise of hip-hop stars rocking brand name sneakers. Together, these two factors catalyzed a street style young people across the world could reference.

Current State

  • According to Art Diction, the sneaker industry generates about $60 billion annually, with hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on branding, research, and development.
  • The trend in sneaker culture is being powered by the emergence of digital (internet and social) media.
  • The culture’s influence can be spotted in politics, design, research, and manufacturing across the globe.
  • Previously, writing about sneakers in the public domain was in the nursery stage. Influencers never exist, so brands depended on athletes for marketing, and only a few individuals were trusted to provide opinions and cultural context about sneakers and its culture.
  • Currently, sites such as Hypebeast have created an online community for people to swap sneaker news and shoes. Media companies, including GQ, Complex, HYPEBEAST, and Highsnobiety, tend to have a global reach and cover sneaker news.
  • These websites create a prime opportunity for branded partnerships and advertising opportunities.
  • Today, “celebrities and athletes alike sign multi-million-dollar collaboration deals with manufacturers. From the Kanye West “Yeezys” by Adidas to the LeBron James / Nike collaboration.” Collaborations between artists and sneaker brands produced limited-edition lines yearned over by new sneakerheads.
  • Sneak addicts camped outside a Manhattan shoe boutique in 2005 for days during a snowstorm to get their hands on the “Pigeon Dunk,” a limited edition produced by Nike and designer Jeff Staple that featured a pigeon on the heel in homage to New York City. Only 150 Pigeon Dunks were made and are listed online today for as much as $10,000.
  • Based on research conducted via the social measurement tool Shareablee, entertainment celebrities (especially rappers), basketball athletes, and media companies are the primary forces shaping and promoting sneaker culture.
  • In the current digital age, sneakerheads have used eBay to create a secondary market for limited-edition designer sneakers.
  • People who don’t spend thousands on these coveted pairs have had the chance to add to sneakers’ hype through social media, as viral videos like the 2014 “Damn, Daniel” series lightheartedly call attention to the slickest fashion statements.

Future Predictions

Sneakerheads: Resale Market

The sneaker resale market in the United States in 2019 was valued at $2 billion. The key players in the sneaker resale market are StockX, Flight Club, Stadium Goods, and GOAT. A high-level overview of the market has been provided below.

Market Size

  • In 2019, the market size of the US sneaker resale market was $2 billion. On the other hand, the U.S. primary sneakers market was estimated to be $21.2 billion in the same year.
  • The resale market has shown steady double-digit growth, year-over-year. According to Cowen Equity Research, the resale market size is projected to reach $30 billion by 2030.
  • The sneaker resale market is expected to grow as a result of lean inventory from key sneaker brands, regular new releases, a growing community of enthusiasts, and the growth of digital marketplaces, which offer more ease of use and transparency.
  • It is noteworthy that COVID-19 made the market volatile as physical retail stores closed, reducing the high traffic from sneakerheads. Despite an increase in online sales, the market value on most of the inventory dropped since sneakers are being sold at cheaper prices.
  • The resale market is expected to continue growing post-COVID since online marketplaces are looking for ways of driving engagement on social media.

Key Players

  • Examples of key players in the sneaker resale market include StockX, GOAT, Stadium Goods, and Flight Club. Major brands such as Adidas and Nike have also started launching products directly on online marketplaces.
  • StockX works like a stock market where buyers place bids and sellers place asks. When an ask and bid meet, an automatic transaction occurs.
  • GOAT is a technology platform where sellers list their items for sale and buyers shop through the products posted. Resale products are verified by the company for authenticity.
  • Stadium Goods is primarily an online market place where sneakerheads can transact and trade in sneakers.
  • Flight Club is a ship-to-verify and consignment market place that sources products from independent sellers who use the platform to sell sneakers. All shoes are authenticated.

Key Avenues of Resale

  • The secondary sneaker market was developed with an e-commerce foundation in which many secondhand sellers operate online through websites and peer-to-peer platforms.
  • The key avenues of resale are primarily brick-and-mortar stores, online marketplaces, mobile applications, peer-to-peer platforms, and social media. It is noteworthy that since the pandemic struck, many players have shifted to digital platforms as a result of lockdown restrictions.
  • Companies are also developing apps that are used for selling and buying second-hand sneakers.
  • According to the founder of Sneaker Freaker, Simon Wood, most of the aftermarket sneaker sales take place online. The use of online marketplaces has been fueled by social media sites such as Instagram, which have created different niches in the market and also provided another avenue for sneakerheads to sell shoes.
  • Furthermore, social media platforms such as Instagram are now being used to sell secondary sneakers. Sellers post sneakers on their respective pages for followers to scroll through and buy. A case in point is David Villareal who runs The OG Kicks on Instagram.

Sneakerhead Perceptions of Preowned vs New Shoes

  • Sneakerheads consider some preowned sneakers to be of more prestige and higher value than new sneakers. The resale market has many limited and hype products that are likely to continue selling out.
  • Conversely, sneakerheads know that there are preowned sneakers, which are cheaper than new sneakers. One can find an almost new pair that is much cheaper compared to its retail price.
  • Many sneakerheads buy sneakers at high prices just to keep them as collectors’ items, which is an indicator that they perceive preowned sneakers to be just as valuable as or more valuable than new sneakers.

US Sneaker Culture: Demographics

The US sneaker culture comprises both men and women, between the ages of 18 to 55. The most preferred brands among sneakerheads are Nike, Vans, and Adidas. While sneakerhead culture is believed to have started as “intrisincly Black movement“, the culture has become a global phenomenon with participation across cultures and ethnicities. Subsets of the sneaker culture include collectors, resellers, and sneakerheads that “appreciate the style”.

Age

  • SBG Media posits that a majority of the sneakerheads in the US fall between 18 to 34 years, while Helixa’s survey posits that the “overall sneakerhead audience” falls under 18 to 24 years.
  • Arch’s article takes it further by stating that sneakerheads in the US may range anywhere between 15 and 55 years, noting that the sneakerheads who were part of the culture in the 1970s are just as important as Generation Z enthusiasts today. IX supports this notion, mentioning that while millennial and Gen Z consumers are a big part of the sneaker culture in the US, wealthy Gen X consumers who “grew up with Jordans” are also considered big sneakerheads.

Gender

  • Research found that both genders are considered sneakerheads in the US. According to Helixa, 93% of men engage with street wear brands, while 40% of women prefer high-end sneakers.
  • Yahoo! found that 31% of male teens and 22% of female teens consider themselves sneakerheads.
  • Stock X, one of the largest sneakers resale platforms in the world, found that 65% of men dominated retail sales, while women stood at 20%. In the resale category however, men stood at an overwhelming 98.4%.

Income Level

  • Helixa reports that the majority of sneakerheads have “slightly lower” household incomes but show high interest in designer brands. Their survey found that 52% of sneakerheads are more likely to spend between $2,000 and $3,000 on clothing and shoes compared to the rest of the sneakerhead audience.
  • IX describes sneakerheads as cash-rich.

Sneaker Culture Subsets and Preferred Brands

  • Laced proffers that the term sneakerhead is a “broad one” as it encompasses various subsections of the culture. These subsets include collectors, resellers, and sneakerheads that simply “appreciate the style“, quoting the rise of “Yeezy fanatics” as an example.
  • Nike emerged as the top preferred brand of choice for Gen Z at 41%, while Vans and Adidas came in at 20% and 13% respectively. Nasdaq posits that Vans are considered the top choice for upwardly mobile upper-income females in the US.
  • SBG Media reports that Nike and the Jordan line have 90% of the sneaker resale market share.

US Sneaker Culture: Psychographics

Sneakerhead culture is firmly embedded in the United States society today. Sneakerheads mainly collect sneakers as a way of expressing themselves and showing off. Most are sports enthusiasts and outdoor activities lovers. They are always eager to purchase the latest edition of sneakers for identity. Nike is the most popular brand among sneakerheads in the United States.

Sneakerheads Psychographic Profile

Habits

  • An average sneakerhead in America owns about 20 pairs of sneakers. Moreover, 76% of a typical sneakerhead’s friends know about their obsession with sneakers. 60% of sneakerheads keep talking about sneakers all the time.
  • Sneakerheads usually purchase sneakers to express their identity and show off. Purchasing sneakers portrays them as trendy and ahead of the curve. To some, being a sneakerhead helps them make new friends and impress their peers.

Hobbies and Interests

  • Sneakerheads tend to be sports and outdoors lovers. They are either watching or participating in sports and outdoor activities.
  • Considering that sneaker culture in the United States is closely linked to celebrities such as Michael Jordan and Run-DMC, most sneakerheads are basketball and hip-hop lovers.
  • Sneakerheads also value performance over style. Athletic cuts and technical fabrics also win their attention quite easily.
  • Sneakerheads are more likely to pay a higher price for products that are environmentally friendly.

Spending Habits

  • Sneakerheads are always looking for the latest, limited-edition pair of sneakers. Although they are ready to spend huge amounts on sneakers, they are unlikely to engage with high-end clothing.
  • Research shows that many sneakerheads wear expensive sneakers matched with inexpensive clothes.
  • A study focusing on teen sneakerheads found that 30% of the survey respondents buy at least a pair of sneakers every month.
  • Other studies show that 56% of sneakerheads are likely to miss school, work, or other daily commitments to buy sneakers. Most of them buy from the secondary markets.

Values

  • Sneakerheads value the unique identity associated with the sneaker culture. They also value status among their peers.
  • To them, sneakers are a sign of status, wealth, and influence in urban communities.

Attitude Towards Brands

  • Sneakerheads in the US mainly prefer Nike sneakers. The brand has positioned itself as a market leader in creating demand through limited-edition launches at premium prices. Other companies in the space include Adidas and Puma.
  • In a survey conducted among Generation Z sneakerheads, Nike is the brand of choice followed by Vans and Adidas as voted by 41%, 20%, and 13% of the respondents, respectively.

Sneakerheads: Social Media Platforms

To determine the most popular social media platforms for sneakerheads, the research team corroborated the information and metrics collected from several different sources, such as media articles, third party rankings, and analytics platforms like similarwebs. Before diving into analytics, to identify candidates for the most popular social media platforms, the research team searched for pre-compiled lists or articles on the platforms and confirmed the metrics with analytical websites.
To approximate the demographics of the communities and their engagement, we used analytics of corresponding websites. From the selected social media platforms, we used similarwebs and Tanke to determine its top social media platform and dived further for the metrics.

Initial Reseach

  • According to IX.co, the key players in the sneakerheads market are entertainment celebrities, basketball athletes, and traditional and digital media companies. Those companies create uniquely tailored contents for sneaker enthusiast and spark discussion among users.
  • Furthermore, IX.co named GQ, Complex, HYPEBEAST, Highsnobiety, and Sneaker News as the leading media companies that create targeted sneaker content. In order to prevent other categories from contributing to the popularity of the entity, we selected the one that exclusively focuses on sneaker content.

Popularity of the top media companies on different social media platforms

  • After eliminating content creators that were not focused on sneaker, to repopulate the list of candidates, the research team delved into a pre-compiled list. From the top blogs or communities on the list, we selected the ones with the most visits on similarweb, so that we can get data regarding demographic and interest regarding the communities.
  • Thus, we determined that Sneaker News with 21M visits, Sole collector 5.5M visits, Kicksonfire 9.2M visits are the most popular social media platforms for sneakerheads and Sneakerheads Unite! Reddit is the most active community.

Sneaker News

  • According to Feedspot, Sneaker News is one of the top websites or blogs for sneaker enthusiasts in 2020. Currently, SneakerNews has 718k fans on Facebook, 9.7 million fans on Instagram, and 861.8K followers on Twitter.
  • Sneaker News has the most followers on Instagram and an average post receives 16’168 likes and 128 comments. According to Tanke, the engagement rate of the community is 1%.
  • According to Similarweb, 6.28% of the site’s traffic is generated from social media, and 49% of social media traffic comes Twitter from and 27.5% from Reddit.
  • As per Similarweb, 63.87 percent of the users are male and 36.13 female. Agewise, 33.29 percent are 18-24, and 32.9 percent are 25-34.

Topics Distribution

Image above is topics distribution generated by Similarweb among the Sneaker News community.

Sole Collector

  • According to Feedspot, Sole Collector is the second websites or blogs for sneaker enthusiasts in 2020. Currently, Sole Collector has 1.9M fans on Facebook, 2 million fans on Instagram, and 596.5K followers on Twitter.
  • On Instagram, Sole Collector receives 9’399 likes and 79 comments per post. According to Tanke, the engagement rate of the community is 1%.
  • According to Similarweb, 4.75% of the site’s traffic is generated from social media, and 30% of social media traffic comes from Facebook and 28.37% from Twitter.
  • Similarly, 65.98 percent of the users are male and 34.02 female. Agewise, 30.44 percent are 18-24, and 33.77 percent are 25-34.

Topics Distribution

Image above is topics distribution generated by Similarweb among the Sole Collector community.

Kicksonfire

  • According to Feedspot, KicksonFire is the best websites or blogs for sneaker enthusiasts in 2020. Currently, KicksonFire has 1.3M fans on Facebook, and 954.7K followers on Twitter.
  • According to Similarweb, 4.91% of the site’s traffic is generated from social media, and 55.29% of social media traffic comes from Twitter and 28.37% from Facebook.
  • Demographically, 62.25 percent of the users are male and 37.75 female. Agewise, 34.02 percent are 18-24, and 32.89 percent are 25-34.

Topics Distribution

Image above is topics distribution generated by Similarweb among the Sole Collector community.

Sneakerheads Unite! – Reddit

  • Even though ranked relatively lower on the best websites or blogs for sneaker enthusiasts list, Sneakerheads Unite! Reddit community has 1.7M members and posts much more frequently or 30 posts a day.
  • According to the community’s policy, it’s not allowed to trade or advertise on the channel. Unfortunately, the research team was not able to collect any data about the community’s other metrics.
  • The second-largest sneakerheads community that allows members to trade on the channel is SNEAKERMARKET. The community has 141k members and encourage the members to trade actively.

Sneakerheads: Social Media Groups and Forums

Based on the number of members, of the most popular social media groups and forums for sneakerheads include the Sneakers Unite!, the Sneakermarket, the Yeezy Marketplace by @Grailful, the Nike Forum, the Scoop208 Sneaker Fam, the WDYWT?, the MSX – Midwest Sneaker Xchange, SneakerDeals, SneakerFits, and Niketalk. The links to these groups were included as citations.The available details of these groups were presented below.

Sneakers Unite!

  • Sneakers Unite! is a Reddit forum that provides a venue for its members to discuss general sneaker topics.
  • The forum has around 1.7 million members.
  • It is an open group as any Reddit member can join and the public can see the posts on the forum.

Sneakermarket

  • The Sneakermarket is a Reddit forum that allows its members to re-sell and buy sneakers.
  • The forum has around 141,000 members.
  • It is an open group as the posts can be seen by the public and any Redditor can join the forum.

Yeezy Marketplace by @Grailful

  • The Yeezy Marketplace by @Grailful is a private Facebook group where members can buy and sell sneakers from each other.
  • The group has around 124,500 members.
  • It is a closed group as only accepted members are allowed to view the contents of the group.

Nike Forum

  • The Nike Reddit forum allows its members to have general discussions about their Nike sneakers.
  • The group has around 94,100 members.
  • It is an open group as any Reddit member can join, and the public can see the posts of the members.

Scoop208 Sneaker Fam

  • The Scoo208 Sneaker Fam is a private group on Facebook that is involved in buying and selling sneakers.
  • The group has around 85,700 members.
  • It is a closed group as only accepted members are allowed to view the contents of the page.

WDYWT? (What Did You Wear Today)

  • The WDYWT? is a public Facebook group where members can post and have a general discussion about the sneakers that they are wearing.
  • The group has around 73,400 members.
  • It is an open group as anyone can see the posts made by the members of the group.

MSX – Midwest Sneaker Xchange

SneakerDeals

  • Sneaker Deals is a Reddit forum that provides a venue for its members to buy and sell sneakers.
  • It has around 46,600 members.
  • It is an open group as any Reddit member can join, and the public can see the posts on the forum.

SneakerFits

  • The SneakerFits is a forum that lets its members upload their pictures wearing sneakers.
  • The forum has 41,200 members.
  • It is an open forum as any Redditor can join the group and the public can view the posts in the forum.

Niketalk

  • Niketalk is a private Facebook group that lets its members buy and sell sneakers from each other.
  • The group has around 29,800 members.
  • It is a closed group as only accepted members are allowed to view the contents of the group.

Sneaker Brand Partnerships: Overview

Sneaker brands often partner with celebrities, brands, artists, and athletes among others to drive sales as well as increase brand awareness. An overview of how sneaker brand partnerships typically work has been provided below.

Partners

  • In an interview with COVETEUR, Joe Grondin of New Balance stated that before choosing partners, they first define the goal of the partnership. There are instances where the goal is usually product-oriented while other times it is marketing related, but most of the time it is a combination of both. Grondin stated that it is only after understanding the goal(s) that they start coming up with a list of potential partners. Ebru Ercon of Adidas also echoed these sentiments.
  • Additionally, Martin Lotti of Jordan said that as a brand, they “look for collaborative partners who meet their standards of excellence in design, craft, and creativity and are just as committed to provoking the collision of basketball, fashion, and culture to inspire the next generation.”
  • Most sneaker brands partner with athletes, large-name designers, celebrities, brands, and sometimes even cartoons and anime like the Air Jordan 6 ‘Slam Dunk’ that was released to take advantage of the Slam Dunk series’ popularity.
  • However, with approximately 99.9% of Americans connected to the internet and social media as well as the rise in e-commerce, the sneaker industry has become dependent on influencers. According to Revolt TV, sneaker brands in the country including the top five ones “frequently lean on influencer partnerships in various ways from gifting and endorsement to product and design collaborations.”
  • Some sneaker brands’ partnerships with athletes, celebrities, brands, and influencers include; Reebok x Cam’ron, Reebok x Cardi B, Nike x Fear of God, Nike x Comme des Garçons, Nike x Cristiano Ronaldo, Travis Scott x Nike, Puma x Kylie Jenner, and Puma x Rihanna among many others.
  • Sneaker brands also partner with or sponsor certain events as part of their campaigns. For instance, in 2019, Nike sponsored 14 out of 24 teams in the Women’s World Cup.

The Role of the Partner

  • One of the main roles of partners working with sneaker brands is to introduce the brand to new customers and cut across new consumer markets in general. For example, when Reebok partners with influencers, its main goal is usually to “introduce the brand to new customers from the influencer’s audience.”
  • In addition to cutting across new consumer markets, sneaker brands’ partners also shape a brand’s perception, increase its popularity or awareness, and excite existing consumers.
  • Some brands such as Jordan also expect their partners to be creative and brilliant when it comes to the craft and design. A good example can be seen in Jordan’s recent partnership with Dior, where both “design teams incorporated timeless silhouettes from the Dior and Jordan Brand vaults to bring a new era of craft to both the high-fashion and streetwear industries.”

Importance of the Partnerships

  • Sneaker brand partnerships can increase a brand’s web traffic, social media activity, and sales. A good example can be derived from the Nike x Colin Kaepernick partnership where the brand “saw a 1,400% surge in social media activity and earned $6 billion in sales.”
  • Through partnerships, sneaker brands can also improve their reputation. However, this does not always happen as planned. Nike received a lot of negative reactions because of the Colin Kaepernick partnership with some people going as far as urging consumers to boycott Nike products.
  • As mentioned above, Nike also sponsored the Women’s World Cup in 2019 and as a result, the brand witnessed “over 5.3 million views on the @nikewomen Instagram profile, almost 5 million views on YouTube, and more than 22.5 million views and 97K retweets on Twitter.” Jersey sales also went up by 500% when compared to the 2015 World Cup.
  • Sneaker brand partnerships are also important because they increase desirability or appeal among consumers which can cause released shoes to go out of stock within minutes or cause prices to go up. The Kanye West x Nike and Kanye West x Adidas partnerships had this effect. The Nike Air Yeezy Zen Grey was listed at $250 but its resale value increased to $2,139 while the Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Black was listed for $220, but its resale price went up to $1,437.

Sneaker Brand Partnerships: Case Studies

The research identifies three case studies that demonstrate some form of success of sneaker brand partnerships. These partnerships are mainly for marketing campaigns and co-branding purposes. While the partnership with celebrities has been the common practice adopted by leading brands, such as Adidas and Nike, the leverage of technology and environmental initiatives is relatively unique in the sneaker business.

Adidas & Kanye West

  • Adidas, an athletic wear maker, has partnered with a rap singer and fashion designer, Kanye West, for the marketing campaign of Yeezy sneakers. Adidas’s collaboration with Kanye started in 2015 when Yeezy sneakers priced at $315 per pair were sold out within minutes of launch, resulting from online pre-orders.
  • The co-branding partnership allows Adidas to leverage the celebrity appeal of Kanye to market its premium products.
  • Adidas perceives the partnership with Kanye to be highly influential and the sales of Yeezy were expected to reach $1.5 billion in 2019. The partnership has contributed to the noticeable financial performance of Adidas between 2018 and 2019 when its revenue reached €21.91 billion and €23.64 billion euro, respectively, representing a growth of 7.6%. Net income grew by 16.1% and reached €1.98 billion in 2019.

Nike & Apple

  • Nike’s partnership with Apple began in the early 2000s when the first batch of iPods was launched, which offer value-adds to customers.
  • The co-branding relationship aims to bring Apple’s music to Nike’s customers through fitness trackers and sneakers. The partnership has evolved into Nike+, which builds transmitters into shoes and allows iPhone apps to track people’s workout activity.
  • The co-branding partnership enables both companies to improve customer experience. It allows Nike to stay ahead of the technology curve and equips its athlete customers with the tool to track while exercising. Between May 2016 and May 2020, Nike’s total revenue peaked at $39.12 billion in 2019 ($16.09billion in the US) and grew by 7.5% (5.1% in the US). Its global net income reached $4.03 billion and $4.24 billion in 2019 and 2017, respectively — the two highest levels in the past five years.

Adidas & Parley Ocean Plastic

  • Adidas has also partnered with Parley Ocean Plastic since 2015, an organization that engages in reducing the plastic pollution in the ocean. The partnership gives Adidas the opportunity to strengthen brand trust by being authentic.
  • The two brands have worked together to produce shoes made of recycled plastic. The partnership helps Parley deliver its environmental protection projects while enhancing the brand value of Adidas.
  • Since the launch of the partnership, it has boosted Adidas’s brand value by more than 50%.

Sneaker Brands: Digital Marketing

Most of Nike’s digital marketing campaigns focus on creating an emotional connection with consumers and selling the emotional benefits of Nike sneakers. Below is a deep dive into the digital marketing efforts of Nike and Adidas.

Sneaker Brand Digital Marketing Case Study #1: Nike

  • Over the years, Nike has extensively leveraged digital marketing to boost brand recognition and increase sales for its sneakers. Below are some details on how Nike is marketing its products in the digital space.

Messaging

  • Nike’s digital marketing campaigns focus on creating an emotional connection with consumers and selling the emotional benefits of Nike sneakers.
  • Nike’s digital campaigns appeal to consumers’ emotions, and they sell more than just the sneakers; they sell the aspirations of customers.
  • Nike has mastered the art of storytelling, and each digital campaign takes customers on a journey and tells a different story.
  • According to Digital Agency Network, “Nike tells its stories with a traditional narrative of a hero who overcomes hardships, fights with an enemy and leads to glory at the end. In most cases, the enemy says to the hero that “You can’t”, but the tagline comes to help and tells “Just Do It.”

Imagery used

  • Across its website, social media platforms, and digital ads, Nike uses a mix of both video and high-quality lifestyle photos of its sneakers.
  • The company also leverages long-form video content such as the YouTube Mini-Series called Margot Vs. Lily about two sisters in order to capture an audience of young females.

Tone

Available metrics of success

  • Below are some of the available metrics of success for Nike’s digital marketing campaigns:
    • There was record brand engagement and a real uptake in social traffic after its controversial campaign that starred NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
    • Nike Air Jordan and Facebook Messenger Bot Collaboration saw an open rate of 87%.
    • The Colin Kaepernick campaign increased Nike’s social media activity by 1,400% and made $6 billion in sales.

Links to the campaign/campaign imagery

  • Here’s a link to some of the campaigns.

Sneaker Brand Digital Marketing Case Study #2: Adidas Home Team Campaign

Messaging

  • Adidas sales were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the company seeing a 34% decline in revenues during the second quarter.
  • To recover from this financial blow, Adidas launched a dynamic digital creative through its digital and social media platforms.
  • When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Adidas was forced to close down some of its stores, the company abandoned its 2020 digital marketing strategy and got to work on changing its brand messaging to fit into the evolving coronavirus situation.
  • Adidas created the #HomeTeam campaign to encourage people to stay active while staying at home. The main purpose of the campaign was to offer daily content solutions to keep people motivated in lockdown.
  • Using its creative automation tools, Adidas was able to personalize the content according to the market. According to company representatives, the campaign was launched with the aim of communicating the message of encouraging people to get into sports.
  • Beyond the #Home Team campaign, Adidas also offered “free virtual experiences across social and digital channels to support the community as they stay active, practise mindfulness, learn, seek entertainment and stay connected. In addition to live workouts and nutrition tips, there will be live DJ streams, lunchtime jams and inspirational content for our community to stay mentally strong, inspired, creative and hopeful.”
  • Adidas’ mantra for the campaign was “stronger, together.”
  • The campaign incorporates both videos and photos.

Tone

  • The tone for the campaign is encouraging and minimal.

Available metrics of success

  • According to Adidas Chief Executive Officer, Kasper Rorsted the #HomeTeam campaign was Adidas’s most effective campaign yet at engaging customers. The campaign video received over 400 million views across different social media platforms.
  • According to the company’s global lead for digital growth, audience, and media personalization, Marcus Cho, their investment in digital advertising helped cushion the company from the financial blow occasioned by the pandemic, improving e-commerce sales during the second quarter by 93%.

Links to the campaign / campaign imagery

  • The campaign video and imagery can be found here.
  • More campaign creatives can be found here.

Sneaker Retailers: Digital Marketing

Some case studies illustrating how retailers are marketing their sneakers in the digital space include Foot Locker’s “We Live Sneakers” digital campaign and GOAT’s AR Try-ons for Rarest Sneakers.

Sneakers Retailer Digital Marketing Case Study #1: Foot Locker’s “We Live Sneakers” Digital Campaign

Messaging

Imagery used

  • The imagery used in this campaign includes a digital spot featuring a wide variety of celebrity talent such as “new Bay Area star D’Angelo Russell, Latin Trap superstar Anuel AA and musicians Da Baby and Justine Skye, and notable social media influencers.”
  • The campaign was digitally-led, so the company leveraged online channels and their social media platforms.
  • In order to acquire and retain sneakerheads, Footlocker came up with the mantra “Because Sneakers,” and they tied all their digital marketing efforts to this mantra in order to bring together the sneaker community and celebrate the diversity of its members.

Tone

  • The tone of Foot Locker’s digital campaign can be described as nostalgic since “there’s an element of nostalgia for the sneaker enthusiasts who remember Carolyn Davidson’s original “Script Swoosh” or the “Sunburst” pinwheel.”

Available Metrics of Success

  • While there are no publicly-available metrics of success, Foot Locker’s revenues for the third quarter of 2019 were up by 3.9%. We believe that the campaign played a role in increasing the company’s revenue since it had been launched the previous quarter.

Links to the campaign/campaign imagery

  • The digital spot can be found embedded in this article.
  • The “Evolution of Swoosh” video can also be found on YouTube.

Sneakers Retailer Digital Marketing Case Study #2: GOAT AR Try-ons for Rarest Sneakers

Messaging

  • In 2019, GOAT launched a digital AR campaign to showcase the rarest sneakers in the world to their customers.
  • The campaign allowed GOAT’s 20 million app users to “virtually wear the world’s rarest and most coveted sneakers.”
  • According to Marketing Dive, “the company added a “Try-On” feature to its app that shows an augmented reality (AR) image of the shoes when customers point their smartphones at their feet.”
  • According to Daishin Sugano, co-founder and CPO of GOAT Group, the company is “committed to sneaker culture and hope the new feature will elevate the experience of discovery for our community.”
  • GOAT’s digital try-ons of the world’s rarest shoes is the company’s “latest use of AR technology to inform and amuse shoppers of its digital marketplace.” In 2018, GOAT also used AR activations to give away prizes and drive foot traffic to its brick-and-mortar stores.
  • The campaign was aimed at younger consumers who prefer to use mobile devices for content consumption.

Imagery used

Tone

Available metrics of success

Links to the campaign/campaign imagery

  • The campaign can be found here.

Best In Class: Digital Marketing

Mint and Dropbox are examples of brands with best-in-class digital marketing strategies.

Case Study #1: Mint

  • Mint first launched in 2006. By 2009, the consumer brand was worth $170 million and had 1.5 million users. Today, “Mint has become a household name with over 20 million users.”
  • Mint’s “overnight success” is linked to its innovative digital marketing campaign.

A) Messaging

  • Personal finance software service Mint employs different messaging concepts through its digital marketing channels. They include — “It’s all coming together,” “All your money in one place,” “Effortlessly stay on top of bills,” and “We’re serious about security.”
  • These messaging concepts help Mint to promote itself to consumers as an automatic and secure way to manage money in one place and save online.
  • With phrases like sign up free, unlimited free credit scores, and more, Mint also positions itself as a free personal money management software.
  • The marketing message on social mediais not self-promoting; instead, it focuses on giving its audience information about money-saving tips, financial news, and more.”

B) Imagery

  • Mint uses explainer videos to show the value of its services to consumers clearly.
  • As a free website, Mint uses explainer videos “to convince its users to convert to a free account — from there, the value presentation is within the tool itself.”
  • Mint also produces educational infographics to draw consumers’ attention and grow their business. Here is a list of their recent topical infographics.

C) Tone

  • The tone of Mint’s digital marketing message is friendly and welcoming, appealing to all consumers seeking financial assistance.
  • It’s also ambitious, establishing the brand as an expert by taking an educational approach to bring in individuals who have questions about their finances.

D) Marketing Channels

Case Study #2: Dropbox

A) Messaging

  • Dropbox positions itself on the landing page as a free service, hence encouraging consumers to test out the product.
  • The file-hosting service employs different messaging concepts to draw consumer attention. They include — “Get a Dropbox free account, “Access files anywhere, “Back up files,” and “Share and collaborate.”
  • These messaging concepts help to promote it as a free service to manage files, store, and share online.

B) Imagery

C) Tone

D) Marketing Channels

E) Any Success Metric

GLENN TREVOR
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at Simple Manifestation with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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