When are Sneaker Brands Going to Give us Something Back?
Time to be a little selfish.
I opened up Instagram the other day. The first thing I saw was a semi-shirtless DJ Khaled. Offensive as it may seem, that wasn’t the most distastful thing I observed. It was the fact he — a man with money in the bank and a sneaker collection to die for — was being gifted another 7 pairs of free kicks from Nike.
Like he needs it.
This kind of promotion actually turns me more and more off a brand — maybe it’s because I’m all about sneaker love on street level — because these kinds of stunts are simply to create hype when no more hype is necessary, along with a sprinkle of elitism. But we get it. Brands wan’t to leverage celebrities and influencers to reach greater audiences, gain better market share to ultimately make more money. So it’s clear that sneaker brands are looking after their own interests here, but what are brands doing to support the sneaker community? Because we’re sure as hell supporting them.
Below: DJ Khaled flexing one of his insanely rare (and free) gifts from Nike.
Don’t get me wrong, brands do lend their clout to great causes. Community-driven projects like the Doernbecher and N7 collections are great for the outside community. But what about the sneaker community who supports these causes, too? We’re not getting much but Ls and jacked prices. We need something more impactful than a shirtless Khaled video, flexing a free drop of rare kicks that we’ll never get, all the while screaming “STILL IN THE MEETING!!”.
But nothing’s going to change until it affects their bottom line, which means the change needs to come from us. Every time we like or share a post with an influencer in it is basically support for the idea, even if we don’t buy the shoes. It’s time we click ‘unfollow’ on some of these undeserving “celebrities”.
While some deserving small-time creators from the community get gifted, too, they still fall into the same category as the celebrities; their craft is being leveraged for promotion. But what I’m talking about, what I’d love to see is something much bigger, more personalised and inclusive.
Appreciation events of sorts would go a long way to developing a better relationship between brand and community. But at the moment, events are exclusive, with the red rope opening up for those only in the circle. What about the 14 year old who’s saving up every cent he has, just so he can afford a pair of NMDs, or the OG collectors who have been loyal to their brands for decades. What are brands doing for guys like this? We deserve something better. It’s time to get a little bit selfish. After all, we’re the ones dropping billions of dollars every year on their products.
It could be me, but customer perception of leading sneaker brands are changing; there’s a reason why Nike’s sales fell off dramatically last year. The truth of the matter lies in a quote from Kate Zabriskie; “The customer’s perception is your reality.” So, if we’re shifting further away from brands because of their exclusivity and lack of inclusion, where does that leave brand loyalty?
True brand loyalty is only truly built when a person believes they hold the same values as a company, and right now, there’s a gaping chasm between the community’s values and the brands.
So brands, take note; We are changing. Loyalty doesn’t happen in a day, it happens day-by-day. If you can make people feel special on a personal level time and time again, you’ll keep them as a customer for life. Because as of right now, you’ve lost me.