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Why Have Sales of Nike’s Kyrie Signature Shoes Dropped?

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The Nike Kyrie has been the best selling basketball shoe from Nike’s signature line in the last few years. How do I know this? I wrote an article on the shoe a while back discussing how well the shoe was performing.

If Basketball Sales Are Dead Why Is The Kyrie Selling?

Sportswear analyst Matt Powell of NPD Group is considered the source for sneaker information. This is because his company collects POS data and then translates that information into reports on the sportswear industry. The consulting business takes the data and presents information to brands that help to indicate whether a decrease or increase in sales is a trend or an anomaly. I use a lot of the data on this site to prove a point or to create analysis of my own. The process of analyzing data isn’t a science in fashion and should be taken with a caveat emptor consideration.

I’ve stated on this site that my reports are based on my sales and I utilize a micro to macro approach. In other words my shop takes a smaller sample size that typically aligns in proportion to the larger market. I’ve also stated on this site, in the article above, that predictions in fashion are extremely difficult and data can only give you what will happen in the immediate future. In other words there isn’t a real science to trying to predict what will happen and just because an analyst has the data, it doesn’t mean they are always correct. A few weeks ago Matt Powell made a statement on Twitter that, “In May reported sales of Kyrie 3 were substantially less than Kyrie 2 in May last year. Fashion headwinds first hurt Curry, now Kyrie.” This tweet was liked by a lot of people, which makes it seem as if Matt Powell predicted the drop in sales for Kyrie because basketball sales are down and “it was only a matter of time.”  The sales did drop, but it wasn’t because of “fashion headwinds”. If I state that sales are going to be slow for “insert brand”, I will eventually be correct as sales go through cycles and like a broken clock any prediction can be right eventually.

The problem is Powell’s analysis is in regard to performance basketball being down (which the Kyrie was not down) and that Kyrie is now a victim of fashion. My assertion is that the slow down in sales arrived because Nike has shown a tendency to undercut its own momentum with decision making that is questionable to say the least. The Kyrie 3 was selling very well upon release in December, so what happened?

I wrote this post about why adidas is doing so well and it pertains to the first reason for the Kyrie’s slow down:

adidas is also Beating Nike in Advertising | Marketing 

  1. Nike stopped marketing the shoe and relied on the NBA to drive attention for its basketball shoe segment. I’ve been saying that this is no longer the correct way to target the consumers. Sports may be the last bastion for marketing on television, but kids aren’t watching sports events in the same numbers as they used to. They are watching YouTube. Nike’s early push for Kyrie was a fantastic commercial that trended on YT named “Improv”. The spot aired on tv, but it exploded on YT and social media. Nike then created a pop up shop for the next Kyrie release in January. After this Nike didn’t push any marketing behind the Kyrie and then they did the unthinkable which is actually the biggest reason the Kyrie saw a drop in sales.
  2. The introduction of the Nike PG1 Signature Series. The Kyrie Signature shoe retails at $120.00. This is one of the primary reasons it has performed very well in a sluggish performance arena. Kyrie has been very marketable as well as Uncle Drew and Nike has typically done a solid job of promo for him. That 120.00 price for a signature though is a standout. There are other signature shoes at this price (Kobe Venomenon, LeBron Solider, KD Trey5) but those are all takedown models and they are never given the type of marketing or attention as the numbered signature release. The Kyrie is the right product at the right price and has been a shoe with solid marketing and cross promotion via colorways. The introduction of the PG1 at $110.00 completely altered the momentum of Kyrie’s signature. The PG1 shoe was well designed and although it wasn’t released in large numbers it was enough to contribute to a decrease in the sell of the Kyrie 3.

Nike’s PG1 Paul George Shows How Nike Is Fighting For The Market

The release of the PG1 can be justified as Nike trying to bring attention back to signature basketball shoes, but the truth is I didn’t think it should be created. George doesn’t have any rings. He isn’t known as a winner. He doesn’t come from a storied basketball college (Well Tark the Shark did make Fresno relevant, but Fresno State isn’t a powerhouse). The release of the PG 1 didn’t really make sense to me although PG 1 has some of the most aired television spots with Jeep and Gatorade as well as Beats, I didn’t think he deserved a signature based on his basketball resume. Nike obviously saw a guy who was being marketed heavily by other brands and jumped in with a sig and they basically undercut the momentum of the Kyrie 3 which contributed to a slow down in sales for the Kyrie and created the final issue that has contributed to the Kyrie and Nike Basketball’s slowdown.

3. There is a glut of basketball releases being dropped by the Swoosh and this is not a good thing. When you consider that adidas is doing very well with it’s runners, there aren’t a lot of options there. There is the alphaBOUNCE, NMD and Ultra BOOST. There are a lot of colors and deviations in the trio of runners from adidas, but there are really only three shoes. Toss in the casual Tubular releases and you get about 5 different styles of similar models. adidas has focused on quality over quantity. Nike on the other hand has a bevy of  Signature athlete shoes and so many variations of each model that each release undercuts the previous models potential sales contributing to shoes sitting on shelves and being discounted. When you add in that people are all about comfort, price (and I know this is a contradiction to my pricing discussion) doesn’t matter.

What has to happen in the sneaker community is we have to begin looking deeper than the numbers and analyzing why performance is down. It’s not just because it isn’t the trend, or that it’s the wrong product. There are layers to this discussion and sneakerheads deserve a better response than “Naw.”

“I’ll tell Nike what you said,” or “the data.”