Next to soccer, basketball is the most popular sport in the world, thus creating a global market larger than most other major sports. This is why companies such as Nike and Adidas are constantly thinking of how to sell their basketball sneakers. When looking to buy basketball shoes, it isn’t like you’re able to try them out before deciding whether or not to purchase them, but you’d obviously trust the opinion of a basketball expert. That is why companies like Nike know that athlete endorsements can be the difference when it comes to making the sale.
Just like Nike dominated the basketball sneaker market with Michael Jordan throughout the 80’s and 90’s, today their poster boy is LeBron James. Nike now relies on James’ reputation as the best in the game to sell his sneakers. It doesn’t matter if the shoe isn’t the best performance sneaker available people will still buy it because LeBron wears it. Or at least he does some games. This was the case with last years model the LeBron XI, which James did not wear frequently after having problems with traction on the court. Even with it’s known problems consumers were more than happy to buy the shoe, as it turned out to be one of the best selling models yet.
In comparison to Nike’s approach with LeBron, Adidas knows they cannot compete on an endorser level so they focus on their advantages in shoe technology. In a recent ad, another NBA superstar, Damian Lillard, is shown wearing the new Adidas basketball shoe with their BOOST technology. Adidas knows that although Lillard is one of the game’s best young players, he doesn’t nearly possess the kind of recognition and popularity that James does. That is why they emphasize the superior performance features of the sneaker.
I can say from personal experience that these kind of marketing strategies do play a factor when buying a sneaker. I don’t’ like LeBron, at all, and I have a pair of his shoes. And I hate myself for it. But they were just so sleek and once I tried them on I felt like I was walking on air. Not to mention I actually purchased a model that’s considered one of the better performance sneakers in the LeBron line. Regardless, even with not liking LeBron I felt as if they must be some pretty damn good shoes if he’s wearing them. Now a couple years after making my purchase, I love the shoes, but still hate LeBron.