In terms of Pricing
Yesterday, Nike dropped the Mercurial Air Zoom Ultra SE and to no-one’s surprise, it quickly sold out. It was pretty much a guaranteed success given that it was based on a much-hyped concept boot and was limited to 1000 pairs. They will certainly show up on certain sites for resell in the days to come. Given that the retail price was absurdly high, 41,800 Yen in Japan, $350 in the US, 350 EUR in most of Europe, save for the UK where it 315 pounds, I am sure the resell prices will be even more ridiculously high.
Of course, by this point, long-time readers of this blog will have seen previous arguments about the prices of boots being too high. But I think this release in particular shows the direction prices will go in. If we compare this to the previous limited-edition Vapor, the Flyknit Ultra, it retailed for $250 US and within a few years this became the retail price for the “normal” Vapor. It is not a stretch to suggest that within the next couple of years, or even by the release of the next generation Mercurial will reach the price point of this newest “Ultra” Mercurial.
Prices are trending upwards, and the release of the Mercurial Air Zoom Ultra SE seems like to a test to see if consumers will be amendable to higher prices. Nike is not alone in doing this. Adidas has been pushing higher price points with their remakes and limited edition boots over the past few years. I personally think Nike has looked at adidas’ pricing and figured if they were getting away with it, so could Nike. We also do need to mention Mizuno’s prices, which are also high and while the boots are handmade in Japan and have a much higher quality than other brands, they could do with their prices being lowered. Even with the financial issues that many people have faced over the past few years because of everything, it seems the Big Two want to wring out as much money from people as possible.
The other thing that I thought of with this release is the concept of a Minimum Viable Product. In this case, and MVP is a product that has just enough features that people will buy it and add to it later. Normally, this concept applies to software and while some can rightly argue that the AZ Ultra SE is a “complete” product, I think it is also arguable that since the previous Ultra was a prototype for the next for generations of Mercurial that we can think the same of this newest Ultra. Given the fit issues that JayMike mentioned in his review and that the Air Zoom pod does not really seem to work well, there are still improvements that need to be made. Thus, the boot is incomplete, in my opinion.
Essentially, my view is that anyone who gets the boots to play in are in effect real world testers that are paying a high price to be so. Now, I could be wrong about all of this. But companies are not your friends, and this fact alone makes me suspicious of releases like this. They can be deceitful at the best of times, so it is best to be wary.
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Main Image Credit: Soccer Shop Kamo