What started as a post on Brooks Running after seeing a response on Facebook to a customer turned into an analysis of customer service. I took a few minutes to find questions from customers and took snapshots of the responses, or lack of responses from footwear companies. Why would I even stop and do this?
Footwear Diversification: My definition of diversification is not in regard to your portfolio, but to your closet. Nike currently dominates the athletic footwear & apparel marketplace. While other companies are creating fantastic products, distribution is typically limited to specialty shops, but the brands are basically absent from larger more traditional retailers. I would hope that those who buy footwear would be more open to trying new/different brands. I understand preference, but the marketplace is controlled by capital and asking a brand like Newton to compete with Nike or Adidas, is a waste of time. More important, trying a new brand creates a better marketplace.
Of course the natural counter is that companies make their own beds and that marketing and distribution is based on the companies direction of growth. Another counter is that people like what they like and it’s their money. I AGREE.
Now that is out of the way we can get into the discussion of customer service. All of the companies listed here will respond through their customer service channels. They all have return information on their sites. This look at customer service is a glance at Facebook response and interaction. Now, a company that gets 1000 messages will obviously have a difficult time responding to every customer. However, that company getting a thousand messages also is probably making a billion dollars, which means that they have a team handling social and its probably not just one person or one to ten social media people. I also have to add that these companies have to wade through a ridiculous amount of political, spam, hire me comments, and silly comments which makes it hard to find and respond to customers.
With all of that said, this is not a bulletproof report. It is a quick analysis using pictures. The brands are in alphabetical order:
Adidas on Facebook – Below are three different snapshots. The posts could be considered trolling, but there are two posts basically addressing the issue of crediting customers. Is it better to respond or leave the posts up there? I’m not sure, but I realize customers can make some unreasonable demands and they also tend to miss the information available on the website. Should adidas delete the posts? Are they correct in simply avoiding a back and forth? I am not a big fan of social, but the moment you create a fan page your job is to monitor and respond.
Asics on Facebook – Below is a post from Asics. Asics is a smaller company, but not that small. Here you see a very engaged Facebook page. It’s an interesting comparison to adidas. What do you think?
Brooks on Facebook – Below are two completely different type of comments and answers. Like Asics, Brooks takes the time to give detailed instruction on one and they even take a suggestion and state that they will forward the message.
Newton on Facebook – I could have pulled any number of messages from Newton’s page, but there weren’t many complaints. There weren’t any spammers, there were just accolades and questions about where and when they could pick up certain items. Newton, Asics, and Brooks share a common denominator, they are all running shoe companies first. Right now Basketball shoes are sliding in sales. Could it be that the running community is more sensitive to its customers?
Nike on Facebook – Nike uses its Facebook for marketing but they don’t respond to any comments and customers. This is a case where the amount of traffic and comments are possibly overwhelming, but like I said, when a company makes billions of dollars there really isn’t an excuse. If social is where the people are, then you have to respond to the people. Nike does a great job when it is pushing a product via Twitter or IG, but when it’s a random complaint or comment (which I know it’s hard to catch so many) they are basically non-existent and comments like this remain on the page. Does it hurt the brand? Probably not, but with other companies making a push it may really be the little things that count. Nike does have a very good customer service policy and shoes can be returned to a Nike Factory or Clearance store as well as be sent in. There social media response time is almost non-existent.
Puma on Facebook – Puma’s growth this year has been very good. Their response time on Facebook, not so good. I don’t think Puma is strong enough to ignore its social footprint. Yesterday, NPD’s Matt Powell shared that Nike had lost a 20% share of the market on women’s apparel. He addressed sports bras particularly and multiple followers stated that Victoria’s Secret was the reason for the drop. Here in this post a woman is asking about the sports bra pictured. She didn’t get a response. That’s not a good look. Three different comments about the sports bra and I could have kept scrolling, nada.
Saucony on Facebook – Saucony is the most responsive of the companies listed here. Actually it’s a close tie between Newton and Saucony. The interesting thing here is they respond to almost every reasonable question and the actually get into some very detailed discussions at times. The only place in Memphis to find Saucony is at niche running shops. Their lifestyle segment (retro) running shows up in our one sneaker boutique, but I have to assume that Saucony is doing well through DTC. This post about marathon season actually shows who is the leader in running footwear and it’s no surprise that the ranking falls this way when you look at these customer service reports.
Under Armour on Facebook – Under Armour took some hits last week, but it was very good to see how responsive they are as one of the bigger companies. Under Armour however is one of the most tech oriented brands out there. They have one of the largest digital footprints in the footwear and athletics business. Their acquisitions of sports related tech companies gives them access to a large database. It is only natural that they have a grasp on social. The questions below are on the Curry 3, but the rest of the page is solid.
I could go on and on analyzing this but the purpose of the post is to present to you how customer service is a direct reflection of how a company is doing overall. The ‘running’ shoe companies all are willing to engage on their platform. As a result they dominate in their areas of importance. Under Armour may have taken a hit in their stock, but they still saw growth and their engagement and involvement in tech allows them the chance to maximize marketing opportunities. They will have to maintain their attention to detail if they want to recapture their position in the top 5. I hope this article inspires you to take time and visit the companies. This is not an ad so there aren’t any links to the Facebook pages. Choose the company you are interested in and drop them a line to see if they will respond.