Hyper-Local Marketing Hits The Sneaker Biz


I remember back when I had my first summer job. Last check of the summer, so you know what the kid had to do; hit Brooklyn’s Albee Square Mall and wild out for my back to school gear. Back then, at least that summer, all anyone wanted to rock on their feet was the new Lotto kicks with the detachable side logo with interchangeable color ways. I actually wanted the soft leather 3/4 Fila’s, but hey, too many kids where already sportin’ them. I wasn’t sure even sure I would find the Lotto joints, since back then, it’s not like there was a lot of hood advertising. I had to find some kid who knew some kid who might have had them on or who knew where to get them.

That was how it was back then. Word of mouth set the streets on fire. This was before the big sneaker campaigns and rapper endorsements. This was before Niketown, before Dr. Jay’s, and before the V.I.M radio spots. This was your man’s and them putting you on to what was really hood. This was was then.

And now it seems, this is how it will be once again.

You see it looks like big advertising just got the boot from those in the kick business. Sneaker companies, in order to get more bang for their ad dollars, are starting to employ a new tactic known as hyper-local marketing.

What this so-called “hyper-local” marketing does is connect directly with consumers where they already shop. Getting closer to the grassroot and having local brand advocates spread the message for companies. In a word, it’s marketing with a local focus. By putting more focus on a smaller area and demographic, companies are then able to see first hand if a campaign is working.

Nike SB is known to have created the “hyper local marketing” approach in 2002 in a partnership with a skate shop in NYC.

Though consumers may aspire to sport their favorite global sneaker, they tend to shop for it locally. Some research suggests that about 85 percent of local consumer business occurs within 15 miles of a person’s home or place of work. So if a company doesn’t have a local marketing plan, a consumer won’t necessarily know where to pick up the brand locally. Companies are beginning to finally take notice.

Nike, for one, recently put out some 300 newly designed and limited edition shoes at over $250 a pair this past year to a few local athletic shoe stores in the NYC area. They set out to illicit favorable responses from the ardent shoe lovers, also known as “sneaker heads” and counted on mostly word of mouth and hyper-local marketing, to set the standard.

Although clothing sales are down overall, sneakers are one of the few products that are still selling well. In fact the global sneaker market is estimated to reach $30 billion at years end. That in itself has attracted new players like Gourmet, Greedy Genius, and Supra to a field already crowded with global giants Nike, Adidas and PUMA.

It’s not even East Coast/West Coast. Brands are going to have to think city by city, in terms of how to effectively communicate to consumers locally and push a spillover effect into other markets.

Expect more hyper-local campaigns in a city near you. The recession has changed the market, so even the Nike’s of the world are finding that sometimes smaller is better.

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