I remember my first pair of Nikes as a middle schooler. I felt that I had arrived showcasing them around school and town. Sure, they may not have gone with my all girl’s school uniform, but I felt cool, trendy and popular. There was no doubt in my mind that I had the best pair of sneakers and that this pair would last a lifetime of memories. As years progressed, I was an avid soccer player, and I remained brand loyal to my Nikes. There was no other sneaker or athletic brand that would change my mind. It was Nike all the way. The world acknowledged it too as some of the best print and digital advertising came from Nike.
This ad came out just in Sept. of 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq2CvmgoO7I
Let’s bring it back to the main reason I am talking about Nike. Remember when Nike dominated the shoe market? Not only were they the coolest sneaks in town, but they also had the marketing and advertising to back it up. Let’s not forget the greatest tagline of all time: Just do it. For years, the sneaker industry has been off the charts with entrants entering the market, fighting for that extra market share that Nike would never give up. As we fast forward to present day, there is not a shortage of other shoe brands that are giving us a refresh.
You may have heard of Allbirds or seen people sport the shoe. They could potentially be a mass disruption in the athletic sneaker market there is since Nike. This San Francisco-based sneaker company is making some really cool, comfortable, refreshingly simple and also ecologically friendly shoes. So why now? Why have other sneaker brands remained stagnant in what they do best and how can they face this new disrupter called Allbirds?
Let’s start with what the fuss is about with Allbirds and why it is transforming the sneaker industry. In 2012, Tim Brown had a professional soccer career that led him to FIFA World Cup for a staggering eight years. He had the best shoes that were customized and flashy. However, he saw an opportunity to come in and create a shoe that was less flashy and with no corporate logos. Not only are they cozy and sustainable, but they’re also minimalist in look and sales strategy. You do not see ads pouring in online or on the web marketing Allbirds. It was a new revelation. People cannot stop buying them, let alone wearing them. They have officially become an athletic sneaker that is making companies like Nike and Adidas turn their heads. But why have they become increasingly popular without the digital marketing and advertising efforts that these top sneaker firms have done? With only one kick-starter campaign, that described the sneakers as “a world first: woolen running shoes specifically designed for sockless wear,” Allbirds has owned the direct-to-consumer model. It has a direct relationship with customers and is constantly improving the product. The company has raised over $77 million of venture funding. That speaks volumes to the belief that these shoes could potentially be the next “Nike” but in a sustainable and comfortable way. Its attributed success can be connected to its strong first-party data. It uses customer data to decide where to launch next, with a focus on what resonates with the new customers. Their data analytics is a big piece of the puzzle that will hopefully get them booming into a new market.
Furthermore, it has taken the tech world by storm, that is part of the casual workplace uniform at start-ups and venture capital offices. Even celebrities are wearing them from Leonardo di Caprio to Oprah Winfrey. This is free press and press that will last. The New York Times even refers Allbirds to as “Silicon Valley’s cobblers.” Social media has become Allbirds’ main channel to build its brand identity and leave a lasting impression. However, venture capitalists are singing Allbirds’ praises the most. Investors are personally advertising their pair on Instagram
Their posts are amounting to the greater public and spreading the word without marketing or massive amounts of digital spend. Let this be a lesson in digital that although we have all these new innovative technologies that are currently disrupting the industry and allowing brands to speak freely, the marketing power is in the consumer and investor this time. To bridge this gap and continue to promote freely, they will continue to push new campaigns to run on air, on digital and in cinema with interactive websites that tapped into fashion trends of sustainability and transparency. They are now launching in international markets. How do you think they will enter this new market and what tools will they use to transform their product into a long lasting legacy like Nike?