Planting Seeds: Why The Sneaker Influencer Process Is Flawed!
By krvanch - Jan 25, 2016
seed /sēd/ v. to place, introduce, etc., especially in the hope of increase or profit
The process of seeding product or service to high visibility individuals in the marketplace is nothing new. Companies offer a free this, or that in hopes that the high profile person will be seen using it or give it a public shout out with the intent that the common consumer, in turn, sees it leading to a boom in business.
- Food & Drink
- General services
These are only a fraction of the goods and services which companies will offer freebies. It’s really a good investment.
Paparazzi is constantly photographing celebrities. These people are also constantly being interviewed for a given magazine, trade publication or paper, news magazine TV show or talk show. It’s been like that for decades. They reach National and Global visibility.
Spending company cash hiring an ad agency to develop a billboard or commercial or any other means of advertising, plus the cost of placing that advertising in the correct channels for highest visibility ends up upwards in the hundreds of thousands if not greater, depending on the size of the company and what their objective is.
The difference in cost of an entire advertising campaign vs seeding celebs free anything is exponential. Give away $100,000 of clothing, interior design consulting, home theater or auto installation, or anything else is a drop in the bucket.
And then the companies see their clothing on the cover of magazines and they speak about who redesigned their homes or pimped out their car in their interviews. And that’s where the return on investment happens.
Social media has made this incredibly easier as it puts products and services into a more precise demographic. It’s also made it slightly more difficult as celebs now have paid Tweets, Instagram posts and Snapchats. But it’s not like that for everything.
It’s no different in the sneaker game. Especially when it comes to social media. Retailers and Brands have their lists of celebs and sneaker celebs to which they seed product in the hopes they’re seen publicly wearing them or will spotlight them on their social media channels.
Those being seeded product are looked upon as influencers within the industry and what they wear often leads to trickle down business from the common consumer.
Consumer sees sneaker celeb wearing new release > Consumer is influenced by the sneaker celeb > Consumer spends the release date online or at a brick and mortar in hopes of getting a pair for themselves.
Multiply that formula a couple thousand or hundred thousand times and the nominal investment of giving out a bunch of $150 pairs for free is now only pennies.
But is it being done the right way? Are the right shoes being seeded anymore? I look at my various social feeds and timelines and I see the usual suspects often getting seeded the most limited of limited run shoes.
From a person who buys anywhere from 5-10 pairs a year (depending on the year) is it unfortunate to see, via social, that it’s the same handful of people getting the same hot releases which are coveted by so many tens or hundreds of thousands? Sure it is. Sometimes I feel like an outsider looking in when a week or two prior to releases, anywhere between 10-20 of the people I follow are showing that they already have them, all as we double tap, knowing we have ZERO chance of getting them because of their extreme exclusivity. Then a few others of the same group of people who seem to get all the top releases post that they got them on the release date. But again, the shoes being seeded are almost always those which bring the most hype or have limited release numbers.
It might sound like sour grapes to others what I’m saying, but it’s not. Many of those people have worked hard over a lifetime creating contacts to which they have friends in high places allowing them to have easy or earlier access to shoes and have worked hard to establish a level of financial security to which they can pay the cost to virtually buy everything and even exorbitant amounts for rare issues.
Good for them, I applaud the hustle. But to me, it seems counterproductive for companies to seed that type of “influencer” a pair of shoes already set to be in a limited run or one which comes with extensive hype to begin with. “Great, it looks like “so and so” got his pair of Yeezys or Jordan 1s.” How is that going to “influence” me to buy that near ‘impossible to attain for the common consumer’ shoe? Isn’t it already hyped enough?
The real influencer would move the needle on sales of standard inline, GRs. Take a shoe like the Adidas Duramo running shoe. Available at Kohls, JC Penney and major retailers like that. The most GR of GR shoes. Have Kanye wear them for a week, be photographed or appear in them, and that shoe becomes an instant hit. A retailer overbuys or a brand overproduces a shoe and they sit on shelves? Forget putting them on sale, Kanye can sell them.
Could the sneaker celebs do that? The ones who are popular industry people. Not Hollywood or entertainment famous, but sneaker famous. Many have sustained relevant popularity for the more well known inline shoes like Air Force 1s, Superstars and Stan Smiths, but could they do the same for less popular silhouettes? Are those the shoes retailers and brands really should be seeding?
The right people are in place, but I just can’t see how someone who is sneaker famous, seeded a pair of shoes that need no hype, is influencing anyone.
What are your thoughts on how today’s seeding process works? Do you think it’s done correctly? Let us know your thoughts in the comments and on social.