Basketball shoes, sneakers, gym shoes, trainers, whatever you want to call them. They are a pretty decent size business. When you think of the athletes that showcase their talents on a nightly basis for 9 months and you see the cultural and societal impact these athletes have, they are trend setters. Basketball has intertwined so much with culture, in particular black American and Chinese culture, that kids are growing up wanting to wear the shoes their favorite players are wearing, or rock the same hoodie, jacket, or listen to the same music. Sometimes players are friendly with their favorite musicians, easy example is Drake.
In the past couple years, statements have been made indicating that basketball shoe sales are down, largely due to the rise of athleisure. While this may be true, I think there are things companies like Nike could be doing a lot better. With Nike having Kyrie Irving, KD, Lebron, Paul George, potentially Zion Williamson, these culturally significant athletes at the top the game, seen on a nightly basis, with images of their signature shoes all over social media, it is very concerning for me that they have not used Giannis’ playoff time to promote his signature shoe. Giannis, a likely candidate for MVP, a representative of two different cultures, plays in a small market where he is the star and really one of only basketball players in the Midwest with a signature shoe. It is very disconcerting that Nike has chosen to not showcase this shoe, with no reason why. Often players will debut their shoes at ideal times, such as before playoffs. For Nike to miss out on this golden opportunity to debut Giannis’ shoe for playoffs, doesn’t make sense. For the Nike CEO to continually push back the release date, now at a time where finals will likely be over, doesn’t make sense. It seems that they are hiding something about this product, perhaps Giannis has issues with the product or something along those lines. As a consumer, this does not bode well. They are coming out after the hype of the season is wrapping up, chances are as a consumer I’ve already made alternate shoe purchases during the season. Why as a consumer should I be excited about this product at all? Especially when even Giannis does not have it on his feet.
During one of the final episodes of Game of Thrones, one misplaced coffee cup led to $2 billion in free advertising for Starbucks (even though it wasn’t even a Starbucks cup). The playoffs have this same ability to promote advertising. There are IG accounts, blogs, websites donated entirely to basketball shoes. Giannis had that opportunity to get his shoes out there and receive free advertising and conversation about the shoe. Now that the release date is pushed back, there is no more chance of free promotion for the shoe. A golden opportunity was missed and god forbid if Giannis ends up winning MVP this year, that will be an even heavier blow to what could have been. If the rumor is true that Giannis doesn’t find them comfortable to play in, then why would a consumer want them? As a matter of fact, Nike just released another color for Kyrie recently, celebrating a win from 4 years ago. Interesting Nike can get this out, but they can’t celebrate Giannis, who’s shoe still has 2 more weeks to go after the Kyrie release. Nike – please explain.