Can Kanye West keep Yeezy on fire?

As shipments of Yeezy’s new collection surge, marketing guru Kanye West appears to be showing weakness in branding.


Kanye West’s frequent disputes have once again sparked discussions in the industry about whether the “Kanye Effect” can continue Yeezy‘s popularity.


According to fashion business dispatch, when Kanye West, the founder of Yeezy brand, recently accepted an interview with TMZ, he claimed that the 400-year slavery system is a choice, in order to deny the resistance of the enslaved people for a hundred years. The American social networking site Care2 subsequently formed a petition group for its inappropriate remarks and asked the adidas group to immediately stop selling the Yeezy series and sever cooperation with Kayne West.



However, Adidas CEO Kasper Rrsted responded that the group and Yeezy have always maintained a good cooperative relationship. Although it does not contribute much to the overall sales, the Yeezy series has always created a very high topic for adidas due to its limited sales.


Kasper Rrsted expressed his attitude towards this, “Obviously we do not support these remarks, but it will not affect Adida’s plan to help Yeezy continue to expand.”


As early as June 2016, adidas Group announced the deepening of cooperation with Kanye West. The two parties jointly launched the Yeezy brand physical store of Adidas + Kanye West, selling all footwear, clothing and accessories including men’s and women’s series. Adidas said that the two have established an important cooperative relationship, but did not disclose the details of the agreement and performance data.


Combination of fashion and sports

It is undeniable that Kanye West has contributed a lot in enhancing the influence of the adidas brand.


Looking back four years ago, when adidas was at a low point, in addition to being unable to resist rival Nike, it also needed to face the constant provocation of Under Armour. The group then signed Kanye West from Nike in 2014 for $10 million and promised dividends.


Adidas uses the core Boost sole technology to carry the breathable woven material Primeknit. The first Yeezy Boost750 series launched by adidas has achieved great success since its launch. Kanye West took the opportunity to create a second joint shoe, and cooperated with online marketing and star delivery to push the Yeezy series to a climax.



The Yeezy series launched by the two parties has become the hottest sneaker on social media with 3 to 6 times the popularity of other shoes in the first year.


In June 2015, Yeezy Boost 350 Low combined with 9000 pairs of Yeezy 750 Boost sold out in 10 minutes. And it is especially popular with Chinese consumers. When the adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Zebra series was released in Shanghai iapm mall, some consumers adopted “technical” means, using the program to break through the official APP to order more than 80 pairs of shoes at one time, and pick up the shoes at the store At the same time, it caused dissatisfaction among other consumers, and even caused a fight.


Until the first quarter of this year, Katy Lubin, business director of fashion search agency Lyst, pointed out that Yeezy is still the most popular brand in the world in the sports shoes category. In the comprehensive list, Yeezy is expected to enter the top three fashion brands by the end of the year.


Although the adidas Group has not disclosed the sales of Yeezy products, the series has simultaneously boosted exposure and topical volume among young consumer groups, opening up a new market for the group’s series of product sales. According to a report released by L2, in the 12 months of 2017, both in the Instagram channel and the email channel, the click rate of adidas exceeded that of Nike.


At the same time, adidas‘ market share in the United States almost doubled between 2016 and 2017. As of the end of May 2017, the brand’s market share in the United States was 11.3%, compared with only 6.3% in the same period in 2016. The group’s goal this year is directed at 15% to 20%, about to double, cannibalize Nike’s stronghold market.


Not only gave Nike a headache, but the industry is also thinking about why Yeezy is so popular.


In 2014, Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian appeared on the cover of the authoritative American fashion magazine “VOGUE”, causing a lot of controversy.


Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of “VOGUE”, pointed out sharply that in every historical period, there will be some people who plan the culture of the era, those who instigate hot topics, and who use their own existence to describe the outline of the whole world and influence our perspective on things. people.


After dropping out of school, transferring schools and finally entering the music circle, Kanye West has won heavyweight awards such as the American Music Awards and the Grammy Music Awards since 2004 with his outstanding creative talent. The road to fame of this “problem boy” is already rebellious, and his free and casual remarks in the media are more in line with the current demand for personalized expression.


In fact, Kanye West’s influence can be seen as a microcosm of the rise of street culture. Elements such as skateboarding and hip-hop rap are expressed through the special group of black people, because they are not appreciated by the mainstream of society, but become a special existence. This is the young people’s understanding of “cool”, the vision of being independent and not afraid of others.


The cultural psychology of “seeking differences” is projected to the fashion industry, which explains why the “Ugly Sneaker Trend” (ugly shoe style) represented by Yeezy and Balenciaga “daddy shoes” in recent years has moved from the niche to the mainstream.


Behind Yeezy’s popularity is the desire of young consumers to be part of the counterculture it has built. But in turn, what supports the transformation of this cultural phenomenon into purchasing power is Kanye West’s shrewd business methods.


Kanye West: I am the brand


As Christian Dior said, the value of a fashion review is not whether it is praised or criticized, but whether it appears on the front page. Kanye West is clearly a skilled player at this rule.


The same as a trendy brand, Yeezy follows a different operation method from Supreme. The latter builds brands through products, but Kanye West focuses on himself. The first thing people remembered before Yeezy was the founder’s name.


According to LADYMAX statistics, on Twitter, where Kanye West is mainly active, he has 28.2 million followers. Kim Kardashian appears more on Instagram, and his followers are as high as 110 million. The two work together to undertake everything from product promotion to celebrity delivery. The multiple roles of Kanye West also use the network circle to radiate this social media influence to a wider range.


Taking the pre-release of Yeezy season 6 series as an example, Kanye West invited Paris Hilton, Jordyn Woods, Amina Blue and other social media celebrities to wear new shoes to imitate his wife Kim Kardashian to shoot multiple sets of promotional photos, and released them through the personal Instagram of these stars at the same time to generate a topic effect.


Subsequently, the move was accused of violating U.S. federal law and caused controversy again, but Lyst data showed that immediately after the photo was released, the global search index surged by 45%, and Yeezy’s high popularity in the media maintained for a whole week.


When the product was officially released, Kanye West attracted the attention of global trend lovers through time-limited appointments and limited sales, which gave birth to a high-priced resale market. Josh Luber, founder of the sneaker resale website StockX, said in an interview that it was the limited explosion that added freshness and topic to adidas, continued to attract the attention of young people, and reversed the previous situation of being beaten by Nike.


According to aiobot data, Yeezy’s return on the resale market is as high as 400% to 500%. For example, the Yeezy 350 was released at a price of $200, and the average resale price is now $1,437. The adidas Yeezy 750 Boost in Light Brown was sold in 2015 for $200. Available for $350, the average price is now $2,967.


Similar to Supreme, Yeezy’s high profit is gradually regarded as an investment business, and non-trend culture consumer groups are also drawn into this “hunger marketing” game, and the added value of the product is continuously increased through the artificially created sense of scarcity.


However, the turning point occurred in November last year. After the official launch of the new adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Grey, all consumers who participated in the lottery were successfully drawn. The grey model is still not sold out five days after its release.


Due to the increase in shipments of adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 Grey, its transaction price in the resale market is also as low as 2,000 yuan. Yeezy Closes Color Match”.


In the past 4 months this year, the topic of adidas Yeezy and Yeezy Season has both shown a downward trend. According to the trend media Hypebeast, adidas Yeezy was once overshadowed by adidas Originals Yung 1 during this year’s fashion week, while adidas Yeezy Boot 350 V2 only saw new color schemes and even led to rumors of discontinuation, while Yeezy Season continued the same seasons. design style.


Some industry insiders pointed out that popular models are often a short-term means to boost sales, which together with the mass-produced basic models constitute the brand’s product system. Obviously, Yeez has not yet found a sustainable development model from hunger marketing to large-scale income, and still hopes that every product can become a hit.


Kanye West is a well-deserved marketing master, but has shown weakness in branding operations. The latest co-branded collection between Nike and Off-White designer Virgil Abloh continues to gain popularity, proving that promotion methods including celebrity endorsements, digital creativity, and hunger marketing are not special.


Earlier analysis of fashion headlines pointed out that when the explosion models are constantly being carefully produced, the explosion model model has become a replicable success.


Yeezy’s next step

So does this limited game mean Kanye Wes is the real winner?


Matt Powell, an analyst at market research firm NPD, said that after the first cooperation between adidas and Kanye West, the first joint shoe Yeezy Boost 750 was released in February 2015. Each pair was priced at $350 and limited to 9,000 pairs. Adidas created a total of only $3.15 million in sales, and even if the Yeezy Boost 350 V2, which was launched later, expanded production, it was only limited to 20,000 pairs in North America.


The high resale fee of Yeezy’s shoes did not fall into Kanye West’s pocket. The profit generated by sales alone was only the tip of the iceberg compared with the tens of millions of dollars in signing and endorsement fees. It can be seen that his current income mainly comes from personal Cooperation benefits from influence.


In addition, the adidas group released its first quarter performance report showing that in the three months ended March 31, sales rose by 10% to 5.59 billion euros, compared to the group’s 18.9% growth rate in the first quarter of 2017. Now adidas’ sales also started to slow down.


Significantly, in March this year, YEEZY MAFIA posted on Twitter that there were no clothing or accessories in the Showroom of Yeezy Season 7 during this season’s fashion week, only shoes, which attracted some buyers dissatisfaction, and speculated that maybe Kanye West himself did not. Dissatisfied with Season 7’s apparel collection.


Gunn has said Yeezy clothing is “Vulgar” and “I think they’re a bunch of dumb clothes.”

Kanye West’s frequent social media voices in recent days may be due to anxiety about the growth model driven by a single category.


He posted on Twitter last week that Yeezy’s valuation will exceed $1 billion, and that he has surpassed basketball player Michael Jordan to become the most profitable person in the field of sneakers, and Yeezy will become the largest clothing company in human history in the future.


On May 1, Kanye West stated on Twitter that Yeezy’s business already includes food, housing, media and education. In addition, Yeezy is also a venture capital firm, which has invested in three companies since last week. He also said he had hired Deborah Palmer Keiser, Gap’s former head of supply chain, to lower product pricing and was planning to expand the team, which is expected to add 160 employees by the end of the year.


But Cowen retail analyst John Kernan immediately denied its valuation of Yeezy, pointing out that if the value reaches 1 billion US dollars, it means that it needs to generate 3 billion US dollars in sales per year, which is equivalent to 8% of adidas global sales.


In fact, Kanye West’s entire career in fashion has shown ambition to create a full-fledged brand. “Vanity Fair” magazine mentioned in a report that in 2009, his first fashion brand, Pastelle, which he quit the music industry to devote himself to, went bankrupt after only 7 months. Come to the fashion industry to criticize.


In 2013, he began to narrow his audience and launched G.O.O.D. Merch, a clothing e-commerce site for fans, but according to people familiar with the matter, the site spent as much as $30 million on experimental clothing lines. After the Yeezy series was released in 2016, he became personally With a debt of up to 53 million yuan, he even “spelled” Facebook founder Zuckerberg on Twitter to donate 1 billion to it.


According to the speculation of American Women’s Wear Daily, Kanye West’s urgent desire to expand recently may be affected by Virgil Abloh’s entry into Louis Vuitton. It is reported that he negotiated Yeezy with Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, and ended in failure in 2016.


In recent years, the leaders of trendy brands have moved closer to luxury brands amid the controversy to cater to the changing preferences of the millennial generation. However, the influx of fashion brands into the fashion circle has triggered fierce competition. Yeezy is no longer a street fashion. synonym. This means that who can stand out in such an environment and dominate the trend, who is the winner of this innovation, Kanye West’s concerns are obvious.


It is worth noting that although the public has long been accustomed to his irresponsible remarks in public, unlike his early years as a musician, Kanye West, who has 28.2 million fans, may have an impact on Yeezy’s brand image. huge influence.


Up to now, celebrities in the circle including Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar, and even his wife’s sister Kylie Jenner, Khloe & Kourtney Kardashian have also unfollowed Kanye West.


This is undoubtedly another major blow to Yeezy, who relies on social media marketing.


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