Comment of the Week

“Nike can’t even loosen its grip so fans can have a piece of Kobe Bryant gear? It’s indefensible.”

What Marker readers have to say about the marketing tactics that make it near impossible to buy limited-release Nikes

Photo: GOAT

Nike’s SNKRS app — the marketplace for the company’s limited-edition releases—has gained notoriety on social media among sneaker fans for creating bottlenecks and making it virtually impossible for customers to check out and snag a pair. Earlier this month, “Michael Jordan’s son Marcus released a limited-edition version of his dad’s Air Jordan I ‘Freeze Out’ sneaker that hardly any actual consumer was able to purchase,” writes David Dennis, Jr., senior writer for LEVEL and author of the forthcoming book, The Movement Made Us.

Dennis, who has repeatedly tried to purchase sneakers via the SNKRS app (to no avail) has likened the whole experience to renting movies at Blockbuster: “We didn’t go to Blockbuster because we liked it — in fact, we hated the damn place,” he reflects. “It leveraged its near-monopoly in predatory ways, charging people exorbitant late fees for movie rentals and even damaging people’s credit scores for not being able to pay those fees.” It’s an example, he says, of how brands like Nike and Supreme are walking a fine line to create the illusion of “scarcity and buzz” while also jeopardizing its business with loyal customers who may become wholly disgruntled with the shopping experience.

Marker readers weighed in on Nike’s marketing tactics. “There is an alternative. Don’t buy the shoes,” comments reader Jody Amos. “Nike knows exactly what it’s doing, and it’s brilliant marketing. They keep the supply low to create the illusion of value. If you and others stop falling for it, it stops working. But until then, they have no incentive to make their ‘Limited Edition’ products easier for you to get. The De Beers family did the same thing with the diamond industry and it is still working for them.”

Reader Owen Wang compares rare sneakers to an asset class: “Think of the sneakers like gold, money and Bitcoin. It’s valuable only when it’s limited,” he writes. “You can’t say that Nike blocks you from owning a pair of basketball shoes when there are a ton of them being sold in Shoe Palace or Finish Line. You don’t want any of those because those aren’t limited edition. The moment Nike increases outputs of some J’s you want, you won’t want it anymore.”

Meanwhile, reader Dan Grace argued with Dennis’ assertion that bots were buying up all the limited edition sneakers: “While this article is correct about the limited supply of high heat sneakers from Nike, it’s entirely wrong in claiming bots simply beat the consumer to checkout to buy all of the inventory,” he wrote. “Nike goes through great lengths to flag and remove bots and utilizes a random draw to remove the speed advantage bots have over consumers.”

Of course, it’s easy to dole out advice when you’re not on the receiving end. As fellow sneakers fan yanville comments: “Bruh. I feel SEENT.”

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