America-the land of the free, the brave, and the aggressive speners. In our consumer-driven society, basically anything with a “new” sticker and expensive price tag will draw the attention of a buyer. In the clothing, technology, and automotive industries there are examples of products that sell well regardless of the expensive price or competitive substitutes, and it’s due to the power of marketing.
Take Nike’s Air Jordan sneaker line for example; Since their arrival on the NBA basketball court in 1984, Nike has been steadily releasing a signature Jordan sneaker annually, along with normal Jordan sneakers, both of which come in a myriad of color schemes. There are about 800 different pairs of Jordans to date, all of which are quite expensive. But how did Nike break away from the competition and why are they egregiously expensive?After all, Adidas makes the lightest competitive basketball sneaker, also worn by NBA players, Reebok has edgy looking sneakers for half the price, and New Balance aredependable and long-lasting sneakers, yet Nike still dominates. Well, the reason is marketing!
Where Nike succeeded with Jordan sneakers is not only in the marketing of the physical shoe characteristics, but in marketing the ideology that came with and still comes with buying Jordan sneakers. Nike’s always made a decent sneaker, but once Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player in history, became the icon of this new shoe Nike was selling “greatness” with each pair. It was no longer a shoe, it was what Michael Jordan himself wore when he set records. It was no longer a shoe, it was what the elite NBA players wore, and if you considered yourself elite, you wore them too. It was no longer just a physical shoe, but also a reflection of your priorities, your skill level, and ultimately your lifestyle.
The power of marketing isn’t limited to popular sneakers however. The Microsoft Zune was a far superior mp3 player to the iPod, yet Apple marketed their products as “trendy” and “cool”, and five generations in five different kinds of iPods later, we see who won that market space. So as marketers remember, it’s not necessarily the product which sells itself, it’s who sells the product, and how. After all, somehow feeling in touch with Michael Jordan when you step out on the court is such a exhilarating feeling it leaves you begging for more, which means it’s on to the next one.