How Footwear Brands Outrun the Competition

Jonathan Gardner

How can a footwear brand engage new prospects in a time when every fashion category is being disrupted and none of the old marketing rules apply? The brands we work with know the game has changed: earned media is becoming more effective and efficient than paid media. That’s the secret to the blockbuster success of challenger shoe brands like AllBirds, Everlane, M.Gemi and Bucketfeet. These upstarts use smart social media, earned media and influencer marketing strategies to turn engagement into sales across categories from luxury through to casual and sneakers.

In the past, building a business required generating massive brand awareness on the handful of costly media platforms that would reach the most people. As traditional media goes the way of the dodo for a generation that reads “newspapers” on their phone and doesn’t know what the “nightly news” is, brands scramble to get the massive scale deemed necessary to drive brand discovery. For example, previously a luxury brand would launch a huge advertising campaign, banking on the fact that potential customers would know where to find its products. Now, a modern consumer knows they can buy those products everywhere, at a discount and not always in channels owned by that high-end brand. And those consumers are harder to find at scale, their attention divided across thousands of apps and every size device and screen.

As a rule, challenger brands know that paid media has never been shown to be effective for shepherding consumers along the discover-to-buy pathway. The brands we work with know that networks like Pinterest and Instagram provide invaluable channels to get their products in front of the right audiences. But rather than backing away from paid media, they use it to support and enhance their earned media campaigns. Companies like mine have developed new tools that allow fast-moving, fast-growing brands to dig deep into who, what, where and how their visual content is shared and engaged with — helping them to set smart marketing strategies that can be amplified with paid tactics and across their marketing mix.

The top incumbent brands in every footwear category know they need insights and analytics like what ShareIQ offers to help them understand the earned media battlefield and plot a strategy to win their category. For example, we recently looked at the high-stakes sneaker category, and the market leaders like Under Armour, Nike and Adidas. Marketers at these sports apparel companies know that paid media matters, but optimizing their earned media strategy -- across Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and the entire web -- matters more.



For example, in this analysis of the sneaker and sports apparel category, ShareIQ Competitive Analytics show that regardless of recent scandals that could impact the brand, Adidas is performing well across all platforms. At the same time, Under Armour has been struggling to get engagement across Instagram, Pinterest and around the web -- getting outpaced by its rivals. Instagram is by far the best place for any these sports brands to get engagement, with Adidas and Nike hitting millions of engagements per day as opposed to below 12,000 on Pinterest and Tumblr. Meanwhile, although Tumblr is not the engagement machine it once was, Under Armour hasn’t posted to the platform in quite a while, leaving the field to Nike and Adidas. The Instagram and Pinterest interaction spikes you see here demonstrate the value of these analytics, showing how brand marketing activities such as campaign launches impact activities across channels.

Marketers can set any timeframe for engagement comparisons, giving them one view that tells how visual content performed, was engaged with and went viral. The insights here can easily be plugged in to connect and inform campaigns across the marketing organization, to get deep insights, for example, about how a competitor’s digital campaign launch may have impacted shares on Instagram and vice versa. This analytics capability not only delivers key marketing data about how social media, influencer marketing and earned media campaigns are performing, but it helps teams collaborate and ask new questions that can help sync up programs and enhance overall marketing ROI.

We’re helping top brands chart the way forward in a pivotal time for marketing. Get in touch today and see how brands use the ShareIQ platform to uncover new earned media value and crush the competition.

Brands in every footwear category know they need insights and analytics like what ShareIQ offers
Jonathan Gardner

Jonathan is vice president of marketing for ShareIQ, based in New York City.