Originally posted on ARCH-USA
A few weeks ago Saucony entered the collaboration arena. Every major brand has had some collaboration. Collabs are becoming a vital part of marketing and maintaining a relationship with consumers. Marketing has always been the uncomfortable discussion for brands because it isn’t really quantifiable. It’s the old tree falling in the forest discussion. If the product is good enough people will find it right?
When a brand decides to enlist personalities to inspire interaction, it can only be measured in items sold related to that personality. In other words a company like Nike signs LeBron to a billion dollar lifetime deal because his value to the company can be shown in shoe sales year after year, and potentially like Michael Jordan, long after his career ends. The problem comes when the LeBron shoes are no longer selling or the trend shifts and certain product isn’t as popular. How is the worth of an influencer measured? That’s murky and hard to explain. What is clear though is you can make the best product in the world, but if no one knows it exists, it’s just a good product without a user.
Saucony launched its Originators project. 10 shoes designed by popular sneaker culture influencers, 100 pair per influencer, 1000 shoes total. The number of shoes is meaningless in the grand scheme of things for a multimillion dollar company under the Wolverine umbrella. I mean, I sold that many ARCHs over the course of my owning my shoe company and I barely have 3000 followers on social media. However, extending the launch over the course of 10 releases creates an extended dialogue about the project and therefore Saucony gets media attention.
Here is the problem however. Scarcity works for Nike and adidas because they are consistently creating content. If you look at the Twitter feed prior to the promotion of the Originators project, the interaction on Twitter for Saucony is not very strong. The interaction on the promo for the Originators project has been slightly better but the numbers aren’t mind blowing. Even the “Sold Out” post only garnered 72 hearts as of 8/13/2017.
Why is this an issue? This site is dedicated to making sneakerheads active participants in the culture. I want everyone to gain some form of ownership in the brands we all love. That means getting jobs with the companies, starting our own companies in design or marketing. For us to get smarter we have to look at situations in the culture and analyze them. Saucony created a campaign to generate interest. Prior to the campaign they haven’t really created any true interest in lifestyle footwear and apparel. There isn’t anything that asked us to follow them on a daily basis. The Twitter feed and IG consists of “deals, pics and promo”. This is not content creation and simply dropping the Originators Collab is going to get attention because sneakerheads are going to check for it because of the potential for the FLIP, but when the series ends will there be another short term spike project or something more sustainable?
With only 100 pair the shoes should garner a resale value. Will many of the buyers rock the shoes? That is to be seen, but a quick glance at eBay after the first drop and Originators shoes are already being posted to the Bay for stupid amounts.
This analysis takes a turn though because the shoe that’s listed isn’t the first drop. The first drop was from Tyler Blake (the white shoe above). The next drop is the Tonyd2wild version which hasn’t even released meaning someone got the joints early and dropped them out there. This version and the “sneakerheadinthebay” version have sold, but the price is only 160 for the sold Tony the Tiger. If you do the math on 120 plus tax, this isn’t exactly a “Should You Buy To Flip” highly rated shoe.
Which leads us to another convo… If the shoes don’t garner any resale will people come back for the other drops? Probably, but this is the real issue Saucony has decided to align itself with influencers who when you visit their platforms are focused on adidas and Nike primarily. When you click on their IGs or Twitter or YouTube, the only time they discuss Saucony is when they are doing work for the brand.
That is not marketing… well it is, but it’s short term.
Collabs are good short-term marketing tools that work for bigger companies like Nike/Adidas, but for Saucony it doesn’t sustain. Marketing for repeat sneaker sales is a daily job consisting of delivering content that is engaging beyond 100 pair and an IG share. This is the problem in advertising. Influencers drive the market, but results are spikes as opposed to steady growth. Balance is needed.
It is going to be interesting watching the drops play out and how they carry the brand forward. Personally the Bricks and the Chocolate Pack releases from Saucony this year are better than any of the collabs. These collabs should be pushing people to buy those drops if the marketing campaign was done correctly. Obviously it’s not as both the Bricks and Chocolates are on the site at a reduced price when they both should have sold through on details alone.
That’s something to think about.