The Business of Sneakers: How Sneaker Companies Market Their Products

From the basketball court to the fashion runway, sneakers have become ubiquitous in modern culture with their bold designs, high-tech materials, and limited edition releases. As sneaker culture has grown in popularity, so has the business of sneakers. Sneaker companies constantly compete for consumer attention, utilizing various marketing techniques and strategies to promote their products and stay ahead of the curve.

In this blog post, we will dive deep into the sneaker business and explore the innovative marketing techniques used by the most influential sneaker brands. Additionally, we will provide insights into what new sneaker brands can learn from established brands’ strategies to build successful marketing campaigns. Whether you’re a sneakerhead or just interested in the fashion business, this article will provide valuable insights into the fascinating world of sneaker marketing.

1. Telling the Brand Story

Here are some examples of how big sneaker brands use this technique:

  1. Nike

One of the most popular shoe companies in the world, Nike is renowned for its cutting-edge advertising methods. The company has a rich brand history and uses it effectively in its marketing campaigns. Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign is an excellent example of how the company tells its brand story by featuring inspiring stories of athletes who overcame obstacles to achieve their goals, highlighting Nike’s commitment to helping people realize their full potential.

  1. Adidas

Adidas is another big sneaker brand that uses storytelling to connect with customers. The company’s “Impossible is Nothing” campaign is an excellent example of this technique. The campaign features stories of athletes breaking barriers and achieving greatness, emphasizing Adidas’s commitment to empowering people to be their best selves.

2. Personalized Experiences

Personalized experiences are about creating a unique and tailored experience for each customer with the goal of creating a more personal connection with them and ultimately increasing brand loyalty. Sneaker companies use data to personalize their marketing messages to individual customers through personalized product recommendations, targeted advertising, and exclusive offers.

Here are some examples of how the most influential sneaker brands use personalized experiences:

  1. NikePlus

Nike has a membership program called NikePlus that provides customers with personalized product recommendations based on their preferences and buying history. Members also get early access to new releases, exclusive content, and free shipping. Nike also sends targeted emails and push notifications to members with relevant product recommendations and promotions.

  1. Adidas Confirmed

Adidas has an app called “Adidas Confirmed” that allows customers to reserve limited-edition sneakers before release. The app uses location-based technology to show customers the available sneakers in their area, which creates a sense of exclusivity and urgency, which can drive more sales.

3. Video Marketing

In the sneaker industry, video marketing has become another powerful tool for promoting products and engaging customers. By creating compelling video content showcasing their latest releases, unique features, and production processes, businesses can create a more immersive experience for viewers, increasing visibility, driving sales, and building brand awareness in the sneaker industry.

Here are some examples of how the most influential sneaker brands use video marketing:

  1. Adidas Originals

Adidas Originals is a division of Adidas that specializes in fashion and lifestyle  goods. The brand has produced numerous video campaigns featuring famous artists and celebrities like Pharrell Williams and Kendall Jenner. These campaigns have helped to create a strong brand image and increase brand awareness.

  1. Reebok

Reebok has a video campaign called “Be More Human,” which features inspirational athletes and highlights the brand’s commitment to fitness and wellness. The campaign has been very successful in creating an emotional connection with customers and driving brand loyalty.

  1. Nike

The “You Can’t Stop Us” advertising campaign by Nike showcased over 50 athletes across 24 different sports and received widespread acclaim for its focus on determination and inclusiveness. The advertisement garnered almost 60 million views on YouTube alone, and its objective was to motivate viewers and increase subscription numbers.

4. Design Your Own

Design your own is another popular marketing technique that sneaker companies use to engage customers. This technique allows customers to design their sneakers, creating a personalized and unique product. This approach is efficient with younger customers who value individuality and self-expression.

Here are some examples of how big sneaker brands use this technique:

  1. Converse 

Converse has a design platform called “Chuck Taylor All Star Custom,” which allows customers to design their sneakers by choosing the colors, patterns, and materials. The platform has successfully engaged customers and generated buzz for the brand.

  1. Nike

Nike has a program called “Nike By You,” which allows customers to design their sneakers using various customization options. Customers can also share their designs on social media and get feedback from friends and family.

  1. New Balance

New Balance has a program called “NB1 Custom,” which allows customers to design their sneakers using various customization options. The program is designed to appeal to customers looking for unique and personalized products.

5. Influencer Marketing 

Influencers are well-liked social media users who have the power to affect their followers’ purchase choices. Influencer marketing is a powerful tool that sneaker companies use to promote their products to a broader audience. 

Examples of a successful influencer marketing campaign in the sneaker industry includes the following:

  1. Adidas x Kanye West

Adidas collaborated with West to release the Yeezy Boost line of sneakers, which quickly became one of the market’s most sought-after sneakers. West’s status as a celebrity and influential figure in the fashion industry helped drive demand for the Yeezy Boost sneakers. The partnership between Adidas and West continued to be successful until it ended in 2022.

  1. Nike X LeBron James 

Nike is another brand that has leveraged influencer marketing to promote its products. In 2003, the brand partnered with basketball player LeBron James. James is well-known for being one of the greatest basketball players of all time and has a sizable social media following which helped generate buzz around the sneakers and drive sales. 

6. Social Media 

Social media has become a powerful tool for sneaker companies to promote their products, engage with customers, and build their brand identity. Brands leverage platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to showcase their products and launch new releases. 

Some of the biggest sneaker brands using social media as a critical marketing technique include:

  1. Nike 

Nike has been particularly successful at leveraging social media to market its products. The brand’s Instagram account has over 282 million followers and is filled with high-quality images of its products, inspiring athletes, and brand ambassadors.

  1. Puma

Puma, another major sneaker brand, uses social media to showcase its brand ambassadors, launch new products, and promote collaborations with designers and artists. Its Instagram account has over 12.8 million followers.

  1. Adidas 

Adidas has also successfully used social media to promote its products, with over 27.3 million followers on Instagram. Its social media strategy also highlights its sustainability efforts and promotes its innovative products.

What lessons do new brands just entering the market can learn from these strategies?  

New sneaker brands can learn a lot from the marketing strategies of more prominent brands in the industry. Firstly, building a solid brand identity that resonates with the target audience is crucial, which can be achieved through unique design elements, high-quality product offerings, and compelling storytelling.

Smaller brands can also capitalize on the growing popularity of influencer marketing by partnering with micro-influencers, who have smaller but highly engaged followings, to generate buzz around their products and cost-effectively reach new customers.

Moreover, creating a solid online presence is critical for new brands to compete. You can leverage social media platforms to showcase your products, engage with customers, and build a loyal following. Consistency in branding, messaging, and tone can also help build brand recognition and trust. 

Finally, collaborations with other brands and organizations can help you tap into new audiences and gain credibility in the market. By partnering with like-minded companies, you can create a unique value proposition that sets them apart from their competitors.


In conclusion, the sneaker industry is highly competitive and relies heavily on marketing to establish brand identities and connect with consumers. Through a range of marketing strategies, companies have cultivated loyal fan bases and driven sales. In today’s digital age, businesses must continue to innovate and adapt their marketing approaches to stay relevant and ahead of the curve in the highly dynamic and ever-evolving sneaker market.

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