There are several reasons
The biggest brands in football spend a ton of time and money on market research and R&D (research and development) in order to be successful. They also constantly compare themselves to competitors to see how they measure up against them. A lot of hard work and effort goes into boots long before they make themselves onto your foot. While some brands tend to be fairly successful, others seem to never catch a break in spite doing the before-mentioned market research as well as R&D. Let’s have a look at the various reasons why this happens.
Easily the biggest and most important indicator what makes a brand successful is not only the money they make from products, but also the money that is pumped in that product. I’m not only referring to the R&D of the product, but also the marketing spend. Companies that have money to spend to promote product tend to have a big head start versus companies who are more limited in this regard. The greatest boot in the world could be made but won’t make an impact if nobody knows it exists. While this is fairly obvious, there are less obvious ways that money makes an impact. Before the 1998 World Cup in France, Nike decided they wanted to become a bigger player in the football market. In order to achieve this, they threw millions and millions of dollars in adverts and sponsorships as well as product development. There were still a few more steps they needed to complete over the years to get where they are today, but I’ll cover that a bit later. Money doesn’t always help, as can been seen with New Balance. NB have spent tons of money trying to make a bigger impact in the football market but haven’t really succeeded in keeping a foothold yet. This tells us that money isn’t always the answer.
Consistency is one of the reasons why money isn’t always the answer. New Balance is a great example of this. They spend loads of money but struggle to make the impact they want. They want to replace Puma as the 3rd biggest brand but arguably aren’t even as popular as Mizuno, which is a company that only has about 1/4th the revenue that New Balance does. But NB haven’t thrived in consistency. They are constantly making changes to their products and this has hurt them. The boot themselves have at times left a lot to be desired. The Visaro had a decent impact when it first launched but the second model doomed the silo so bad they dropped it for the Tekela. The Furon had an awful first release and only the past couple of models have begun showing signs of a consistent design philosophy. Without consistency, its hard to build any kind of brand loyalty. There are a lot of things I could say (and have said) about Nike, but they deserve credit for having coherent product lines and an identity. This is a reason why Mizuno has so successfully built a little corner of the market for themselves. They stand for quality, comfort and Japanese innovation. Mizuno have found what works and are great at leaning into their identity that they have created. The opposite is true for Under Armour, who as of writing this article, have released but haven’t announced their newest boots. Their business and design designs speak of a brand who doesn’t know what it is or where it’s going. They even signed Antonio Zea from adidas (who was one of the designers behind the first Ace, X and Messi boots) in order to provide some spark, though it failed.
Which is where talent comes in. I’m not talking about which players are under contract with which brands but rather the designers and others who bring the boots to market. Antonio Zea was with adidas for quite some time and by all accounts, pretty successful. There was a lot of negative press around adidas killing the Predators, F50s and adiPures but sales went up after the launch of the Ace, X and Messi boots. Under Armour approached him and basically made Zea head of design for their football footwear but lighting couldn’t strike twice and ultimately it led to where UA is today. We of course can’t talk about designers without mentioning one of the most consequential designers in boot history, Denis Dekovic. When Denis Dekovic, Marc Dolce and Mark Miner left Nike for adidas, it was a huge deal. All three were sued by Nike for supposedly sharing company secrets and it caused a huge fuss in the footwear industry in general. It was seen as a huge coup by adidas who even built a design studio in Brooklyn for the three to work in. This is some of the most important talent hunting that adidas has done in the past decade. Denis Dekovic is particularly important because he was the designer behind both the original Magista Obra and the Mercurial Superfly IV. Not only that, but he also was the main designer behind the original Hypervenom Phantom, the Tiempo Legend V, the first Mercurial Greenspeed, the Lotto Zhero Gravitys and others. He doesn’t seem as involved in football as much as he was previously, but there is no doubt of his influence on the industry as whole. But talent can only go so far.
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Check back for Part 2 soon!