Do you remember going to your local shoe store to check out the Puma sneakers on sale, or digging through the Sunday paper to find gym shoes coupons? If not, then you’re young and have enjoyed the privilege of growing up in the current sneaker climate. Shoe shopping has evolved so much through the years, and the culture and marketing tactics have changed right along with it. To prove that point, examine the specific changes to the shoe buying experience.
First, you must recognize the difference in the landscape and marketplace. Most people no longer venture out to their local shoe store to find that right pair of Asics sneakers. Instead, they turn to the internet and social media platforms. They read countless reviews and blog posts about the shoes they are interested in. Also, they may even watch videos where people unbox and critique the shoe’s fit and materials. Nothing is done strictly in-person anymore.
Back in the day, when shoe companies pushed for celebrity endorsements, athletes were typically the first on their list because of the obvious connection to the product. Today, endorsement deals, while still inclusive of athletes, are geared more toward musicians and social media stars. In the ’90s, it was all about Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, but now it is more focused on Kanye West and Rhianna.
In the mid-2000s and before, brands and well-known retailers dominated the sneaker market, leaving little, if any, room for resellers. However, as tech continued to evolve with bots and auto checkouts, resellers had an opportunity they never had before, opening the marketplace up to enormous amounts of competition.
The unfortunate truth about the rise of resellers is the rise of resale prices, and to balance the discrepancy, the rise of counterfeiters. While selling fake sneakers is a booming trade, it is illegal; although, it’s nearly impossible to shut down every new counterfeiter. However, it is necessary to note, most of these sellers do not pretend to be something they are not, often selling shoes under the heading of “replica” or “unauthorized.”
Due to the increase in fakes, shoe manufacturers turn out several new designs throughout the year. Also, the marketing strategy for these new kicks has changed or evolved as well, with the focus being on internet marketing and social media tactics. Also, many companies will hold online-only releases to control the buying cycle of new and anticipated releases.
It wasn’t uncommon in the past for quality and comfort to take a backseat to design and style. However, with the rise of social media and consumer review platforms, the focus has returned to where it always should have been: on durability and usability. Now, manufacturers focus on more flexible and breathable materials, and they still manage to create amazing shoes.
Before, when people referred to someone as a sneakerhead, it was like that person belonged to a group of outcasts. Today, the term is like a badge of honor among a growing number of proud collectors.
Whether you miss the old ways of shoe shopping or embrace the new world order, there is no denying the joy of putting on a fresh pair of kicks. Search your favorite retailer, and find a pair you’re proud to wear.