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Air Jordans: Is There Such a Thing as ‘Too Much of a Product Demand’?

Everyone knows that creating a demand for your product is the fastest way to sales. It’s just common business sense. But is there such a thing as creating TOO much demand for your product? And does a moral or social responsibility coincide with that?

The Air Jordan XI – one of the most famous basketball shoes of all time, was a perfect storm of marketing. It’s the shoe Michael wore during the 1995-96 Bulls’ record-setting, 72-win season. It was one of the first basketball shoes ever to use patent leather and prompted celebrities (like Boyz II Men, most noteworthy) to wear them with tuxedos to awards shows. And of course, they’re Air Jordans, so they were insanely popular to begin with. The end result was just a cultural phenomenon.

Well, my friends, that cultural phenomenon still has not died down. Despite releasing hundreds of shoes a year, the Jordan brand still has shoe collectors fawning for a yearly retro version of this now-infamous shoe every Christmas season. Each year brings a new color way, and this past December 23 just happened to be the original “Concord” color’s turn. It had been 11 years since they last saw a release, and folks simply went bananas.

People lined up outside every shoe store that carried the Air Jordan Concords for a midnight release, just hoping to get their hands on these $180 kicks. Many were unsuccessful, and that’s where this all goes to hell in a hand basket. The resulting mayhem made national news because of multiple reports of beatings, tramplings, and even stabbings. Now, activists have taken up the cause and are demanding lower prices, greater availability, and online-only releases.

So, my question to you is this – what (if anything) should the Jordan brand do? I honestly do not know what the “right” answer is. Personally, I feel that if a company creates an incredible demand for their product, then they should get to play the market however they’d like. They do not necessarily bear the responsibility of what will happen when a bunch of knuckleheads congregate outside shoe stores – that are free to open when they wish, by the way – at midnight. If anything, the Jordan brand should RAISE prices, as these sought-after shoes were selling for up to $1,000 on eBay!

With this demand only increasing each year, we seem to be coming to a breaking point. I don’t know what will happen in the future. But I do know that despite my love of shoes, you won’t find me outside a shoe store next Christmas!

Jeff's Jordans

Yep, these are mine! Aren’t they beautiful? Still not taking a stabbing for them, though!

Do you agree with me? Do Air Jordans need a change when it comes to product demand? Should Nike take responsibility for the actions of obsessed collectors, or no?

Image credit to ididj0emama and Jeff Porretto.


Jeff Porretto

Recently dethroned as the shortest member of the blogsquad, Jeff considers himself to be an artist in all facets of life. Be it playing or building guitars, writing blogs with scathing dry wit, or simply finding new ways to be productive, creativity is a central focus of his day. More than anything, Jeff likes to spend time at home with his wife and 2 dogs quietly enjoying their time together. As with many other members of the blog squad, Jeff is fascinated by the latest and greatest technologies. He is also a self-professed Air Jordan addict and is willing to talk about shoes at any time. You can connect with Jeff on Google+.

Comments

  1. Candice J.

    I love Jordans. I would even love to get some for my daughter. But please believe that i will not even take a hand slap just to save them. I would not risk my physical health and well being for anything BUT my daughter. It’s a pair of shoes! So you’re not going to be the first to wear them, BIG DEAL! I hate the mass hysteria around certain brand of shoes. They go on your feet and walk around in dirt and filth all day. Come on people, fight for something that’s worth fighting for. Perhaps, a college education (which if a person had one they probably wouldn’t be out stabbing people for shoes!). Although I do love Jeff’s extensive collection of Jordans, i don’t have any plans on “wasting” him for them. I’m too pretty for Jail! :-)

    • Jeff Porretto

      I appreciate the lack of murderous intent on your part towards me. +1 for Candice! C’mon though! A college education??? That doesn’t get you street cred… =\

  2. Tony Promo

    I don’t think they should change a thing… and here’s why.

    I started “collecting” sneakers at a young age. There were never lines, and because of that, there were never “line jumpers” who are the ones who cause problems and start fights. It isn’t Nike’s fault (well… that’s debatable, they’re Jedi marketers) that a whole new generation of hypebeasts (I’m looking at every 18 year old who never saw MJ play in ONE GAME) who see their favorite rappers and celebs rocking J’s pre-release date and save their allowances to buy their one single pair a year. Half the kids I saw in line the last and final time I waited for J’s had on team Jordans or other corny general release Nikes. It was safe to say most of them were there getting their first pair, ever.

    I’ve seen people get in and out of collecting, or at least compulsive buying, and most don’t stick with it. I can’t blame Nike for the scenester kids or the trend-followers. Yes, it sucks for people like me and you who have been doing this for a while (I still have OG Concord 11′s in storage… and walked right in and out of the store on release day with no riots or screwfaces from wannabe hard-asses in the parking lot), but at the same time, the exclusivity of it is appealing. Not because I’m an elitist, it’s because these shoes came from MY era. I remember them when they were new and not “retro”, and I don’t think they should be mass-produced. Waiting in line is for suckers anyway. People who have been around long enough know where to get them or have connections at stores where they don’t have to wait in line. Mine isn’t 100% reliable, but you won’t see me waiting in line ever again (after I had to threaten to beat up (LOLZ) four 18-20 year old kids for line-jumping for black/cement III’s), I wait for the “hey… UPS just dropped off the Nike shipment” call.

    Mr. Knight and the rest of Beaverton doesn’t need to change a thing.

    • Jeff Porretto

      OG Concord 11′s? Daaaammmmnn. I can’t compete with that. The part I don’t like is that these retros…. are mostly crap. They just LOOK like the originals. All the quality, a lot of the materials, and most of what made them good basketball shoes is missing. But of course the price tag keeps going up!

  3. Joseph Giorgi

    I had no idea collectors were so hostile these days!

    But, like you, I fail to see why Nike should be held accountable for the actions of consumers. If anything, it’s store owners who should be better prepared to manage their patrons’ behavior.

    Of course, short of having police officers on hand, it’s probably tough putting a stop to the kind of murderous impulses that customers apparently resort to in order to get their Jordans nowadays. Seriously — stabbing somebody over a pair of shoes is pretty nuts, so it’s hard to really expect store managers to fully prepare for such behavior!

    I dunno, Jeff. Maybe online-only orders are the way to go in order to ensure consumer safety.

    In any case, very though-provoking post!

    :)

    • Jeff Porretto

      The only problem with online orders: I was online at 10:50 waiting for the 11:00 release on finishline.com. 10:57 comes and BAM! Site crashed for almost 24 hours. Plan B, eBay…

  4. Jaimie Smith

    I agree with Candice’s comment. People getting in fights and putting themselves in any harm for a pair of shoes is absolutely ridiculous. I admit I am obsessed with shoes/boots. But I would never go that far for getting ones that I want. Nor would I ever wait in line for forever for a pair of them. That is just stupid and unnecessary. (No offense to Jeff if you have ever done that for your Jordans lol) But great blog Jeff, well said!

    • Jeff Porretto

      You trying to tell me you wouldn’t bust a cap in someone to get that… oh never mind. These thoughts just don’t go through good people’s minds.

  5. Alex Brodsky

    It’s certainly not Nike’s problem. They make shoes, they sell shoes, they make new shoes. They can’t predict, and therefore can’t be held liable for what happens when stores release their shoes.

    Same as with Black Friday, it is up to the stores to ensure the safety of their customers. If they can’t do that, they shouldn’t be allowed to release the shoes.

    In this day and age, online sales would certainly be the safest way of controlling this chaos. However, I am aware that servers would crash immediately, so changes would need to be made.

    My solution would be a sort of draft lottery. A day or two before the release, a person can go onto the Nike website and register. Nike holds a random draw, the number of names equivalent with the number of shoes. If your name is picked, you have the first crack at ordering shoes.

    I know this is nowhere near a perfect solution, but it’s an idea.

    • Tony Promo

      Alex… it’s a great idea, and it’s how House of Hoops (sneaker Mecca in North Riverside Mall) does big releases to avoid problems. You go in the day before release, tell them your size, get a raffle-style ticket, and wait in line for the midnight opening where they have plenty of security guards and police. You might have to wait an hour because they only let a handful of people in at a time, but you don’t have to deal with any of the bullshit. I have no idea why other stores haven’t followed suit, as House of Hoops is the flagship store of Foot Locker and there are only 4 or 5 in the country.

      Paul mentioned something about Pearl Jam’s “10 Club”. Where the longer you’re a member of their fanclub, the better concert tickets you have access to first, etc. If Nike started doing this when I got my first job at age 12/13 so I could buy my first Jordans (white/varsity red 5′s), I would never have to pay for shoes again!

      • Jeff Porretto

        Brilliant!! Gotta love it when one company does things vastly superior to another…. and no one follows suit. Hello McFly!!!

        White V’s! My first pair too!

  6. Mandy Kilinskis

    I collect a lot of things, but not to the point where I’m going to wait in line all night or fight people off with a shank made out of a shoe horn. I generally stick to preordering online, online shopping, or buying it off ebay for a reasonable price. If I can’t get it any of those three ways, I just say that it wasn’t meant to be…

    • Jeff Porretto

      Wasn’t meant to be?!?! Mandy, don’t you understand that nowadays everyone is entitled to everything?? I say this tongue-in-cheek of course. But it feels like that’s the general populations M.O. sometimes.

      Can I please just see you once pretend to fend people off with a shoe horn?? Hahaha!

  7. Rachel

    I think I agree with you, Jeff, and with what others have said here: even though the stabbing/trampling is appalling, it’s not Nike’s duty to keep customers from doing stupid things. It’s honestly just really embarrassing to be part of the human race sometimes … I’m reminded of the video footage of Black Friday shoppers running over each other that Eric linked to in a blog a while back. This is why we can’t have nice things …

    • Jeff Porretto

      I was hoping someone would bring up black friday! It’s all acceptable then (at least in the media’s eyes), but when it’s for just one product everyone flips out. I like this people agreeing with me thing =]

  8. Jen

    I totally understand why people collect these shoes, I mean they are a HUGE part of our childhood, especially here in the mid-west. But I don’t understand why people would risk their well being to own a pair. Maybe I don’t get it because I don’t collect anything…but I have a feeling it’s all about the Benjamins in the end.

    Nice post Jeff!

    • Jeff Porretto

      It IS all about the Benjamins. If you can buy something for $180 and sell it for $800, then yeah, chaos will ensue…

  9. Amy Swanson

    I’ve never waited in line to get a new product before. Although, when Dunkin’ Donuts started selling their new k-cups I did make a bee line to the nearest one on my way home to buy a box when I heard they were coming out. But that doesn’t count, right ;)

    • Jeff Porretto

      For you Amy, it counts. It so very counts =]

  10. Eric

    Companies create the product. Consumers create the demand. If there’s a smaller supply, it may influence the demand, but for the most part, it’s the folks buying it who are responsible for however popular [or not] an item is.

    I think a lottery Alex suggested would be the safest bet. Not just for these shoes, but the new iProduct, or those Black Friday plasma-screen TV’s. Between the front door stampedes, middle-of-the-aisle melees, and pepper-spray-escape-plans…this country could use a little order. Sad that it only takes a few crazies to ruin it for everyone, but hey, better safe than, er…shanked.

    • Jeff Porretto

      Pretty much 1% of the people supply 80% of the crazy in almost every situation. But man, that 1% can ruin it for everyone anytime they feel like it.

  11. Cybernetic SAM

    I have never known so many guys in my life who are so obsessed with shoes, until I started here! You guys are weird, I am girl and I don’t understand this extreme passion for tennis shoes, kind of even more I have never like tennis shoes. Nike sure as heck knows what there doing I guess.

    • Jeff Porretto

      You know, I never really noticed before I started collecting, but Jordan’s are EVERYWHERE. If you just look down in a mall or any crowded place, you’ll see that little Jumpman logo constantly. It’s nuts how much they sell.

  12. stephen

    I agree that the release of coveted air jordan retros has gotten out of hand. I grew up in the 90′s and loved the whole line of jordan shoes, have been in line at opening time many times. However I have never seen anything like what I experienced for the release of the Olive 9s. I got to the mall at opening time only to find out that they had a raffle and if you didn’t have a winning ticket you could not buy them. I find this completely unfair, because I personally saw store clerks favoring their friends, and also saving shoes that winners did not pick up by not selling them when I asked. It was pretty sad to me because the system gave me no chance to buy them. I have signed up for the jordan 4 “bred” release raffle at many different stores, well see how that goes, pray I win.

  13. Tony

    I grew up in the 90′s when Jordan was playing still. Back then there was a line for the shoe and kids would skip school to get them but they where cheaper probly around $100 and the stores had them in bulk not just 20 pair. YOu could turn around in school and see damn near everybody with the shoe on. I guess everything is all about fashion now days and if I have them and you don’t I’m more fashion worthy than you. The last pair I bought was the Jordan Gamma 11′s and I only got them because my fiance won a reserved spot at finish line for them. I think Nike is starting the think like a drug dealer. Nike is like we have the best product from the best player to every grace a basketball court so let’s just sell a limited amount each time a pair comes out to so they will keep coming back. It’s actually sad now because the shoe is in such a high demand that people are making money off the fake ones and Nike is messing up because they sell the shoes from $165 to $185 and then people are taking them and making triple that off selling them in bulk. So I say to avoid all the chaos just go back to the old way of selling the shoe like they do with the KOBE or LeBron shoe

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