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Why I’ve Been Wrong About Basketball Shoe Sales Recovering

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The cracks are showing.

Source: The Sports Bubble Has Already Burst | The Big Lead

I wrote an article at the beginning of the NBA season that explained how I thought the NBA could help repair the basketball shoe sales arena. Although analysts have been stating over and over that basketball will not be coming back anytime soon, I was hopeful that things would get better. My business depended on it, so I wrote this article in an attempt to justify my over-investment in basketball footwear. What I failed to look at is the primary source of marketing for basketball sales. Here is the post I wrote about how the basketball machine could be repaired:

10 NBA Stories That Will Repair The Broken Basketball Sales Machine

What I failed to take into consideration is something I knew was occurring in the UK with the Premier Soccer League. It’s also something I understood because I do get that the new marketing arena has more to do with fashion, social and mobile video than television. I’ve been taking digs at Under Armour for failing to generate content to support the Curry models, but an investment in television is becoming less influential which means that basketball is in serious trouble, barring a serious shift in fashion which will only happen if the brands begin to make an effort to generate video/content around basketball and even then it will be a struggle because the primary reason hoops shoes sold is because of NBA viewership.

What am I getting at? This article on The Big Lead is explaining that the sports bubble hasn’t just burst in the UK for soccer, but it has already burst here in the US for NFL and NBA viewing where Nike has made an huge investment in marketing and branding.

Kids aren’t watching sports. I see it in my own house. My son is 15 and he has zero interest in sports. He would rather watch YouTube and play Minecraft.

Basketball shoes were popular because my generation watched Michael Jordan jumping from the free throw line. Michael Jordan lives on in YouTube videos and content creation from the brand which enables his products to remain relevant. This new generation of signature athletes however live in a social media world that moves much faster. Kids and young adults don’t get together to watch sports events. It’s not a rights of passage for young men and women anymore. It’s a means to an end. Sport is played not for passion but for scholarships.

Teens and Twentysomethings, the next group of people that the world is trying to sell to, aren’t bothered with sports events until there is a game so big that it can’t be ignored. Unfortunately, no one even watches the Super Bowl for the game anymore. They watch for the content and concert which places Nike’s big investment into the NFL and NBA in jeopardy unless the leagues can figure out how to stream the games to garner new fans. It’s even worse for Under Armour who decided to sponsor the MLB where viewership and interest is dwindling at an accelerated rate.

I’ve been wrong about there being a bounceback for basketball shoes because of the engaging stories of this NBA season. I may be excited by the NBA MVP race, and Durant to Golden State, and Steph dealing with the arrival, and Isaiah Thomas being the smallest big man in the league, but the market that buys kicks see it as “ho-hum”.

I haven’t been wrong about how sports brands can repair the basketball shoe market overall. I’ve said consistently that Under Armour has needed to create content campaigns around its sponsored athletes and enhance storytelling. Every brand needs to do that. The player/athlete, endorser’s life is more important than ever. To sell basketball kicks, we are going to need access to the world of the athlete, not just the game.