Sneaker companies historically have signed athletes to endorsement deals, including the creation of their own signature line.  The most recognized shoe pitchman in the industry’s history is Michael Jordan, a winner both on the court and at retail.  Despite being retired, he is a prime example of an athlete endorser continuing to sell well thanks in large part to his image and nostalgia factors.   The challenge today is to keep his Jordan Brand relevant to new customers who recognize him more for a crying meme than his legendary accomplishments.

Generally, when a shoe product launch rolls out, within 6-8 months the sneaker becomes discounted and loses its appeal.  The new marketing approach these days is utilizing non-athletes from different entertainment genres to use their social influence and appeal to move product.  Recent success stories such as Kanye West, Drake, The Rock and Kevin Hart have demonstrated their star power with sneaker apparel selling out at record numbers.  There is a new influence shift in how shoes are marketed, advertised and endorsed.

Executive Summary

An Internet Marketing Research study was conducted to determine who the next celebrity should be chosen for shoe marketers to drive new business for upcoming sneaker releases.  The study also gathered sentiment from respondents to find out whether a celebrity or an athlete played a role in the consumer’s purchase decision.  From March 1 to April 1, 2017, an online survey was sent to 58 participants via Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and SMS/text message formats.

In total 15 questions were prepared, focusing on consumer purchase habits, product pricing and who the next celebrity should be chosen to sell their own shoe.  Through a series of more qualitative questioning and less quantitative thinking, it was determined that actor Mark Wahlberg would be the next ideal candidate for a shoe company to invest marketing dollars for a future shoe release.  He was likely selected based on his well known fashion style habits, constantly color coordinating outfits with his footwear.   The secondary question that this research study wanted to find out revealed that 59% of respondents said that it did not matter if a celebrity or athlete was promoting the product, they were viewed as the same influential marketer regardless.  Consumers also stated that a celebrity endorsed shoe should not cost more than an athlete endorsed shoe, which is the current trend in today’s marketplace.

Recommendations suggested were a focus group study to gather additional information and identify micro and macro key influencers through conversational and influencer listening sessions.  Overall, the survey helped gain valuable insight for shoe marketers to understand which celebrity to invest in and to also better understand consumer purchasing patterns.

Defining the Problem

  • Identify the next celebrity who is influential enough for a shoe company to invest in
  • Examine whether a celebrity/athlete endorsement has any affect on a consumer purchasing decision

Stakeholders involved:

  • Customers – They are the primary target audience to purchase the product
  • Athletes – Original primary endorser, additional income stream affected
  • Celebrities – The new social influencer in the shoe industry, new income stream possibility
  • Fashionistas/Bloggers – Looking for additional content to publish, discuss, curate and create engagement
  • Shoe companies – Creator of the product, looking to generate sales / profit
  • Sneaker retailers – They are carrying the product and provide showroom to the product

Research Design

  • Online survey produced via Google Forms – https://goo.gl/forms/6ICsX0PyqLCYsHFO2
  • 58 people participated (43 Male, 14 Female, 1 undeclared)
  • 15 total questions
  • 10 Qualitative questions / 5 Quantitative questions

Fielding

The survey was dispersed through the following portals from March 1, 2017 – April 1, 2017:

  • Friends & family
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • WhatsApp
  • Text message (SMS)

Selected Data Analysis

Some interesting consumer insights here is that the second highest percentage result was 57% stated that they purchase shoes from outlet stores.  This confirms that consumers are willing to wait for a shoe release to drop in price – even if that means waiting for an out of season product to be sent to the outlet shops for a discounted price.

Nearly 30% and 25% polled that style and comfort are instrumental factors over performance (3%) and price (4%).  The consumer values more visual aesthetics over the actual performance features the shoe can offer.

From a visual communications standpoint, 75% of respondents preferred Instagram as their main social channel for shoe information.  Marketers do an excellent job with image composition (i.e. knolling shot) that promote and create interest for product releases.  Facebook scored higher by 4% over blog sites, but the reality is that those posted links are most likely being shared from blog articles, which provide more in-depth production information.

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