Today’s blog is about the man, the myth, the self proclaimed legend and probably the future president of the United States of America (press X to doubt) Kanye West. We will delve deeper in particular to his brand Yeezy, his marketing strategies and the craze that surrounds it.
It seems like not a week goes by without seeing snippets of news regarding rapper Kanye West being published and going viral – even though much of it would appear to classify as pure controversy or even negative publicity. While many people may dislike the rapper because of his attitude, it would seem as though he has managed to master the art of using negative publicity in conjunction with plain and simple bad behavior to his advantage during his career by building the Kanye brand more and more each day. Having several ventures in his name apart from music which includes fashion, he has created a reputation for himself and his brand with an efficient marketing strategy which has made him a millionaire.
But as with Michael Jordan in the 1990s, the key to West’s wealth stems from sneakers. His Yeezy shoe line, which he launched with Nike in 2009 and then brought to Adidas in 2013, has the 34-year-old Jordan empire in its sights, in terms of both cultural clout and commercial prowess. The Jordan line does approximately $3 billion in annual sales; West’s upstart is expected to top $1.5 billion in 2019 and is growing.
The beginning of the Yeezy empire is rather confusing however to dumb it down a little, lets say Kanye had a falling out with Nike and decided to shift to Adidas. Back in 2013, Kanye West severed ties with Nike in favor of a $10 million deal with Adidas. In return for signing, Adidas offered Kanye West full creative control over the direction of Yeezy sneakers and a percentage of all royalties. Upon signing with Adidas Kanye said :
“I. Am. Warhol. I am the number one most impactful artist of our generation, in the flesh. I am Shakespeare, Walt Disney. Nike. Google.”
When it comes to Yeezy and Kanye's fortune, the iconic Yeezy boost 350 will forever be the greatest selling product ever created. Some say that The yeezy boost 350 will forever be imprinted in the history of fashion and footwear. What makes the Yeezy Boost 350 so incredible is the fact that they look amazing with workout gear as well as with casuals, they are also incredibly comfortable.
The Adidas Yeezy Boost was introduced in 2015 and hasn’t stopped selling since. These sneakers have become so popular that new drops typically sell out in under a minute. The Adidas Yeezy shoes come in 4 styles: the Yeezy Boost 750, Yeezy Boost 350, Yeezy Boost 350 v2, and the Yeezy Boost 950. And at the end of 2017, the Yeezy 700 saw the day of light. However, the Yeezy Boost 750 was the first Yeezy to ever drop from Adidas.
Kanye recently said:"It is the 2nd fastest growing company in history. It is a unicorn on its way to becoming a decacorn,", using Silicon Valley buzz words which describe a business that is valued over $1 billion and over $10 billion. The fact that his extreme confidence and confusing antics have helped him become a household name bears testament to his incredible marketing genius. Let's look at some of the key takeaways from Kanye’s marketing mindset:
1.Focus on the user’s Experience
I am a product guy at my core,” West says. “To make products that make people feel an immense amount of joy and solve issues and problems in their life, that’s the problem-solving that I love to do.” Kanye is most definitely a showman. He doesn’t just provide quality music or clothing, he surrounds the product, whatever it might be, with a memorable experience. It is essential for any brand to take a page out of Kanye’s book and focus on user experience to really stand out.
2. Don’t be afraid to use controversy
Recently Kanye very publicly and controversially backed Donald Trump and bizarrely declared “slavery was a choice” - These would be regarded by many as, huge PR blunders but these blunders fit with his brand image as an outspoken, unpredictable and bold artist. It’s no secret that authenticity is highly valued, especially amongst millennials and Gen Z - These generations hate overly manufactured content, Kanye is many things, but he is not manufactured. He is aware of the limelight on him and doesn't disappoint with the controversy. This is not necessarily a marketing tip for everyone but if you are willing to risk it all and are confident of your opinions, this strategy could potentially work.
3. Scarcity Marketing
Kanye is not afraid of making things exclusive. He consistently launched a few “scarcity campaigns” over the years to make his music and concerts exclusive and increase the hype around them. He has a strategy of having smaller limited-time merch shops all over the country that would randomly pop up. He does not tell people what city they would be opened in until a couple hours leading up to the opening. This tactic keeps people on their toes. Everyone watches Twitter closely because they would not be able to go unless it is in their area and they rush when it is announced. This creates exclusivity which helps his brand value to increase substantially thereby allowing him to justify higher pricing.
4. Do Something different
West fixates over sneaker details; he idolizes Steve Jobs, preferring a limited, carefully chosen number of products with an endless array of colorways. And if you are an apple fan, you would definitely remember the famous Apple “Think different” advert which goes like:
“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
And Kanye sure has made his impact in the world of fashion by using his bizarre ideas and making them fan favourites
Here’s the takeaway: love him or hate him, Kanye West is extremely successful and does some things we can all apply to our own marketing efforts. Whether he came up with some of these himself, or he has a marketing team on hand, he is doing things that promote himself, his businesses, and get people talking.
Yeezy’s marketing approach is effective because it balances exclusivity (art, celebrities) alongside mass (Instagram, movie theaters). His campaigns are creative artistic expressions while his distribution strategies are mass.
End of the day however, I’d still not vote for him as President if I had a say :)
Additional links and sources
The History of the Yeezy Boost 350 with Stadium Goods
Kanye’s Second Coming: Inside The Billion-Dollar Yeezy Empire
Kanye West’s secret to building a footwear empire to compete with Nike
WHY KANYE WEST IS A MARKETING GENIUS