Nike has a habit of dropping hype releases fairly often. They are intended as a way to shake up the market and shift focus on whatever they’re deciding to talk about for that cycle. Sometimes these releases make sense, like the recent Tiempo Legend 9 MI boots. But other times we get stuff like the Flyknit Ultra Venom. Now, this is not to say that they are not successful. At the time of writing, the second colourway of the boots have released and sold out. From a marketing and sales standpoint, they are a positive. However, it does not make sense from a story perspective.
There is no story reason behind releasing the boots. They are not connected to other releases like the recent Legend, which references the Legends that Andrea Pirlo wore in the 2006 World Cup. There is not even a seasonal Flyknit story to connect the Flyknit Ultra to. They were literally released to be a cash grab it seems, albeit a successful one. But it is a World Cup year so one would expect a release like this to at least somewhat be connected to the tournament.
The other issue is that instead of increasing sales, what Nike are actually doing is cannibalizing their own sales. People are quite understandably drawn towards hype product, which means that instead of buying something like the current Phantom GT, people are more drawn towards the Flyknit Ultra. Sure, anybody thinking of buying boots from another brand are possibly drawn towards the limited release from Nike instead, but past experience tells me what actually happens is people will choose the hype over the regular release from the same brand.
It also all seems kind of played out at this point. As it has been mentioned on this blog before that these kind of releases happen too often and are used to play on people’s fear of missing out. Which then plays into the hands of some of the resell market sellers who will use it as an excuse to jack up their prices on any pair they come across. Basically, it is one of the ways Nike is fueling the resell market.
Of course, the meaning behind Nike calling these types of products “Disruptions” is that they are meant to disrupt the market. But that also means that it disrupts the sales of any retail companies that do not have the privilege of carrying these types of products, which further funnels sales towards the biggest retail companies and can compound in increased lost sales for smaller stores. If something is ordered online through an online retailer then there is a chance that a customer will order other stuff online, like socks or shinpads, which means there are further losses in potential sales for the local retailers.
But there is also a warning for larger online retailers as well. It is no secret that Nike have spent years trying to increase their direct to customer (DTC) sales. Part of this strategy is releasing hype products and making sure that there is more availability through Nike’s own apps rather than through retailers. It is already happening in the sneaker world, and it is not difficult to image Nike beginning to do the same for football/soccer products as well. In fact, it is probably only a matter of time before this begins to happen.
Lastly, these releases are just tiring. There is already so much product on the market without having brands like Nike drop all of these extra pairs which will guarantee sales at the expense of others. Which means there will be more product left over. Which means there is a higher potential for stuff to just get dumped at some point. So every order for stores is a gamble, because at some point Nike (and to a similar extent, adidas) will drop a release that will kill your sales. On a positive note, it does mean that prices will be cheaper for consumers. But it feels all a bit played out at this point. It feels like there is not much point to hype pieces when everyone knows there will be another one just around the corner.
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Header Image Credit: SoccerShopKamo