Covid-19, coronavirus, has had an insurmountable impact on our global society and it has obviously affected the local and global economies of every country and industry. One of the things that we are all constantly trying to figure out is what the world will be like after this. The world will be changed, and there’s no going back. For me, I look at this impact on the Coronavirus and can’t help but think that even if there was a vaccination to get us out of the quarantine, there’s still going to be a lot of trepidation for people going into crowds for a long time. This is going to affect the bottom line of every industry, and this is no different for the sneaker industry. In 2019 BC (Before Covid) a new sneaker gets released you’re waiting in line for it among a ton of other people; players introduce their shoes at events surrounded by people, and that’s not to say this won’t happen again, but it’s not unreasonable to think how this was done will change in a post Covid-19 world. NBA and sneaker companies will have to be extra cautious with the health of their players. There will be a need to drastically change how sneaker companies market their products.
Before the virus, you could buy a pair of new sneakers and go to the gym, shoot some hoops, show them off. Now your new shoes are only being worn at home. People don’t have the platform to show off their shoes, therefore, maybe dropping $150+ on a pair of shoes you’re only wearing at home. Consumers are also struggling themselves with so many layoffs and reduced incomes. Less money, less need for products. Here is where the sneaker industry can start to make some changes. There are two things that need to be addressed by the big players like Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, New Balance, etc.
First thing to look at is payment methods. A lot of online retailers are now partnering up with payment services such as Affirm or AfterPay in order to help consumers buy their products without dropping the full price all at once. As of right now, this option isn’t available for the big players in the sneaker industry. I personally have bought shoes off a third-party re-seller in order to pay in four installments over one lump sum up front. Given financial instability of millions of people, this is the time to be more flexible. Would you rather someone purchase the shoes over 4-6 weeks or not at all? Another option is lowering prices, which I don’t foresee this happening but needs to be on the table an option for lowering costs to consumers. If you aren’t going to make things more affordable, consider making products more accessible to the consumer with flexible payment options.
Second, change up marketing. Companies won’t be able to do big press conferences or tours like they used to, at least not anytime soon. It’s time to make adjustments and take advantage of what you do have with some easy marketing opportunities. Right now athletes are working out from home. Use this time to have them show off their shoes,they have a built in audience that is curious about what they are doing in their off times as it is. Players could do an IG live with the designers showing off not only the new designs but the talent of those designers as a sneak peek to generate hype. Players can discuss the meaning behind their signature shoes and what makes them special and unique.This can also provide real time consumer feedback and insight. There can even be opportunities for those participating in live virtual events to win special release shoes. Designers could do a talk to promote the brand by showing their creative process, show their sketches, discuss the ones that didn’t make the cut and why they came to the design they chose.
Times are rough right now, for everyone. It’s important for brands to realize that they don’t need to be idle. There are things they can do to make their brand more accessible to their consumers and ultimately help their bottom line during this pandemic. Using social media as a platform for athletes and designers can really generate interest and provide free and valuable feedback directly from consumers. Not to mention it can provide something fun for your consumers to take their minds off things for a moment. Now more than ever it’s important to highlight the collaboration between brands and athletes and to show that we’re in this together. Letting consumers know they are understood, valued, and appreciated during the good times and bad. While brands may not be able to give consumers the same experience they have in the past given the current situation, we are all making sacrifices right now and it’s important that brands not take athletes or consumers for granted. Brands are taking a financial hit, but so is everyone else. It’s not enough to only make changes internally, external changes are needed too. Let your valuable consumer base know you hear them and take steps to show that while we may be apart, but we are still a community.