Back in the day, the color choices were limited. If you think about the 50s and 60s, white or black were your only choices. Along came Converse All-Stars (i.e., Chucks) into my life around the 70s and the color spectrum expanded to include: purple, yellow, gold, blue, and orange.
Today, Nike has taken it to the ultimate level of sneakerdom by offering to let consumers actually design their own sneakers. You can choose the ‘model’, color, personalization and, if you live up North, they have you covered.
“CUSTOMIZED FOR THE COLD: Outfit your favorite sneakers for the season with premium Pendleton wool. Choose your own colors and textured leather accents, then apply the finishing touch with a personalized lace dubrae.”
What’s a ‘dubrae’? I had the same question. It’s a customized mini-buckle for your laces (bottom loop) to spruce up the look of the shoe. Now you’re in the know!
The move to offer up custom sneakers is brilliant in the obvious facts that (a) customers can order what they want (b) improves the customer buying experience and (c) feeds the ego of the individualists who want to be outside the norm. But what’s really brilliant about this concept is the data collection going on in the background.
The challenge for sneaker companies like Nike is predicting the next hottest style. This requires a sizeable investment in marketing, prototyping, focus group testing, surveys and so on. In the end, it’s still a guess. Moving to customized sneakers is also risk since the company has had to invest a great deal of capital in equipment, facility and employees to be able to deliver on these whimsical desires. Moving from a relative low risk approach (marketing) to building an on-demand business (customization) seems riskier. So why do it?
I’m not privy to Nike’s inner-circle, but I can guess what the answer to the why is the bridge between marketing and customization. Pulling the curtain back on what Nike’s true intentions, beyond the already stated, it’s obvious that Big Data is the raw material they’re mining for and Big Profit is the downstream result.
Collecting data from hundreds, if not thousands, of sneaker aficionados will allow Nike to bridge the gap between ‘what to market’ and ‘what they’ll buy’. Using predictive models, Nike will be able to develop universal models to sell to the masses through their distribution channel.
With every new custom designed sneaker that is ordered off their website, Nike’s Machine Learning algorithms get smarter about what the mass consumer might desire. This type of actionable insight will drive their main business’s production lines and streamline their marketing to consumer’s wants.
I went ahead and designed my own shoe in order to appreciate the full customer buying experience.
Victor’s Design Data:
Model: Soldier Xl
Upper - Midnight Navy
Bottom Straps - Deep Orange
Swoosh - Gold Metallic
Midsole - Midnight Navy
Midsole Treatment - Speckled Silver
Outsole (bottom) - Midnight Navy
Upper Strap Text - Victor
Victor’s Personal Data:
Address (Zip Code, State)