Tell me who you’re loyal to
Tell me who you’re loyal to
Foot Locker has announced a new cross-brand loyalty programme today that brings together all its retail brands into a single, free-to-join universal loyalty initiative. Not only does this make sense from a commercial and brand perspective, but it’s another example of Foot Locker’s innovative shift in strategy that has been evident over the last year or so.
Through its Greenhouse incubator, start-up investments, design mentorships and the new FLX loyalty programme, Foot Locker is moving beyond simply shifting product. It’s targeting a position further upstream at the design phase, as well as downstream in resales.
This is a fascinating evolution in how global sneaker retailers position themselves which, theoretically, will mean a significant change in how Foot Locker market their brands. The end game for all this activity is reinforcing brand love among current and future generations of sneakerheads, so let’s look at three of its most important components.
The expansion of sneaker culture into the mainstream has been driven largely by the passion and creativity of the global sneaker community. This community are geeked out and fired up; drawing on the rich and complex history of sneakers to push creative boundaries and influence the industry from the bottom up. This blend of history and creativity is how they bond, it is their currency. Sneaker retailers know this. But creating an authentic position within this community, one that that supports as well as sells to them, requires constant fresh thinking.
In the UK, The Real Sole Family are doing this well. Through strong visual storytelling on Instagram, regular meet ups and their own marketplace they are cultivating an active and passionate community who talk and share ideas daily, attributing their strong bond to the sneakers brands they love.
The role that influencers and partnerships play in driving brand affinity is well understood and utilised, but in the sneaker industry there is a delicate art to collaborations. These collaborations are at the heart of how sneaker retailers create cultural relevance, and the consequences of getting it wrong are serious.
For retailers, successful collaborations are anchored in locality and purpose. Some cities and regions have richly authentic relationships with certain brands and shoes. Some brands have purpose and society at their core. Certain influencers and celebrities have a hundred carats on their name, others capture the cultural conversation of the day.
Embracing these important factors and being able to make the right choice at the right time is key. Collaborating on creative content, experiences and designs lets sneaker retailers move beyond the obvious and enhance their cultural relevance.
Meaningful innovation is about meeting the needs of your audience. In the sneaker world, this means creativity and social currency. The sneaker community will quickly adopt new ideas that enable them to express their passion and share it with their own audiences. But this doesn’t have to be a purely aesthetic expression.
The reseller market is an area in which this passion and creativity is evident. Over the last few years services such as GOAT and KLEKT have successfully brought together creative communities and marketplace dynamics.
Augmented reality (AR) is another recent innovation that seems perfect for the sneaker industry, in that it allows for a creative ‘try on’ experience. It’s no surprise that GUCCI and GOAT have experimented with the concept.
The visual component is most important; providing tools and services that enable the audience to reinforce their own visual identity, particularly on social media, will be rapidly adopted. This also extends to the retailer. Instagram is such an important tool for visual merchandising, and using the latest technology and creative influencers to define a distinct visual brand deepens the connection to an audience.
Image credit: Thierry Tek via Instagram