Converse All Stars, case study
Inc.The Converse All Star is sneaker that has been around for over a century. beginning in the USA in 1917 it has seen large ups and downs in the market ever since its introduction. From being one of America’s most celebrated sporting shoe to Rock and Rolls go to sneaker. Converse All Stars (Formerly known as Chuck Taylors), are by far the most recognized and purchased style of converse shoe. but what information can we gather from the external environment and what does it mean for the future of the All Star? Demographic is of utmost importance, who is buying the product?
What age range does it extend too? Which regions are being marketed? finally what income bracket are consumers falling into and what is being done to break out of that income bracket and appeal to a wider audience? By understanding all of these demographic factors we can being to expand on the overall popularity of the All Star and increase market share.
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The demographic of Chuck taylors therefore is of extreme importance to marketers. Converse chuck Taylors are marketed to people from age 5-50. Although this age range is clearly very broad it can be further broken down into brackets.
For example, from ages 5-10 are marketing is aimed towards a mother who will buy shoes based first, on price and second, on style. Girls in this age bracket are focused on the style and the colour of the sneaker. For teenage boys All Stars are endorsed through prominent sporting figures. For the age 40 and above, market price and style are still the most important factors, going for a ‘classic’ look while still offering colours and patterns considered less conforming on the same style of shoe creates mass appeal to this market. in fact other than personal preference, conceptions about the brand and personal choice there is almost no reason the All Star can’t appeal to most age groups. As All Stars are the most diverse range of converse sneakers they can be stylish – cheap and have a classic look while remaining at the same price.
Geography is also one of the most important demographic factors for Converse All Stars.. Highly populated areas with emphasis on young kids still in school are targeted by Converse. More so highly populated areas with lower income demographics are perfect. The brand is also targeted at middle class and upper class demographics, (mostly marketing the comfort and style to upper class rather than price). This makes it more appealing to lower income people as it is still very affordable, mostly thanks to Converse’ strategy on keeping the price low and the fact that it is not a product only worn by low income demographics. Seeing well known celebrities endorse products that are affordable, has had mass appeal to lower income people and especially in the European and Australian market.
The USA market is of particular importance to the Converse All star, with almost 60% of its market being based there.eeing as America is the home of the Converse shoe and particularly the all star (Chuck Taylor) as the first shoe it is easy to see why this market is seen as so vital. With the buyout from Nike (another American Brand) The USA geographic is essential to the success of the Converse All Star. once again the same tactics take place, large populated low-middle class areas are the primary targets the All Star is marketed towards. Keeping the price low in these areas is particularly important in the marketing strategy as it is important not to make people feel ripped off and angry by high prices.
Especially seeing as a heavy investment in Converse shops has been made higher prices would prove more costly for the All Star. The competitive environment of the All Stars is also fundamental towards successful market growth. Competition in any sector and in particular clothing and footwear is always going to be what makes or breaks a product. People compare products, prices, comfort, style and other peoples view of all products. for these reasons competition of other brands and labels is of the utmost concern to Converse and the All Star. The All Star has not changed dramatically since it was introduced to the market in 1917.therefore consumers perception of the All Star and other products is what drives the business. Converse do not want there to a substitute product on the market they want the All Star to be one of a kind and therefore need to keep the colours designs and patterns as up to date as possible. Competition from Puma, Adidas, Reebok and even Nike shoes is primarily the reason Converse All Stars went from America’s most recognised and successful shoe brand to bankruptcy. This was partly due to poor marketing, lack of innovative and new designs on shoes.
Nike and Reebok had both. Losing sponsorship and endorsements was a massive issue causing people to view Converse All Stars differently, perhaps even just viewing other brands and shoes as superior. Had Converse taken a different approach towards their brand then they very well could have seen a different future than they now do. The All Star shoe was the most popular shoe on the market and this led to Converse putting more focus into promoting the same style for decades rather than designing newer and more exciting styles to grab peoples attention.
Also in 1921 much less was known and applied to sporting science and the technology behind giving athletes greater support in their apparell, particularly shoes. Looking at the Sporting environment now it would be almost impossible to find someone playing a professional or semi-professional game of basketball in a pair of All Stars. These days before a new sporting shoe is put on the market it is rigorously tested for ankle, heel, toe and calf support. Converse failed to do this by updating the All Star.
As All Star is still the most popular and recognized Converse shoe, the marketing strategies behind them and therefore peoples view of them has changed. what was once a Sporting focused shoe is now a ‘sneaker’ portraying rebellion, originality and independence. Rock and Roll themes are being heavily used to change consumers perspective of the product. This has created some new competitors for the All Star. Vans has now become one of the largest competitors of the All star ‘way of life’ and are now considered an evoked set.
Vans have similar themes, mostly targeting the surfer, skater and ‘free’ lifestyle. Almost from nowhere people have completely divided between whether they are Converse or Vans people, with the choice of footwear defining them and their beliefs. This means that although converse have redefined their image, increasing market share and appealing to a broader, sometimes even ‘cult’ audience they have also gained another competitor. This can however also mean they are slowly distancing themselves from being compared to brands like reebok, who primarily target sporting sectors.
Converse also believe that they have a second tier of competition. This extends out to brands such as New Balance and Timberlands. Competing successfully with these brands will not only help market share but also get the All Star back to being able to handle the heavy weights of the competition. In doing this, certain opportunities need to be taken advantage of. Providing additional clothing to consumers not only gets the brand name out there in more ways than just footwear but means that other products are now being offered.
Converse already offer some clothing apparel however it is easy to see a large difference in the originality of the All Star, even after all these years and the originality of some of the clothing on offer. another opportunity is the introduction of the design your own shoe program which has given consumers the chance to have a truly unique sneaker designed by themselves. Heavy consumers of Converse are primarily the people that have taken advantage of this initiative however this has introduced a stronger feel of loyalty with the brand. Converse is also increasing sales while other companies are turning over lower profits. taking advantage of this by positioning themselves as the dominant shoe label would be a massive opportunity. connecting with their consumer through creative ads, also taking advantage of viral videos. A simple Youtube search shows just how hard it is to find a converse ad. jumping on top of viral videos and portraying the brand through fun and creative videos would be a real advntage to the brand and the All Star. Current expenditure expenses are putting $18 million into NBA clients, $8 million into t. v commercials and only $1 million into internet campaigns.
Considering the internet is one of the most cost effective ways of advertising in the modern world, it would stand to reason that more money should be invested into that category. One of the biggest opportunities for the All Star now, is the recent buyout from Nike. Nike, a brand recognised across the globe now own converse, meaning larger financial support is available to the converse brand. Converse now has more resources never before available to them to help market and sell their shoe. Competition, technology and changing social views are all threats that the Converse All Star needs to manage.
Competitors gaining better technology resulting in them being able to provide their product at a lower cost possibly even taking some cost away from the consumer would make Converses low price strategy less appealing to consumers who would now have other options at a similar price or even worse, lower. A shift in consumers views, style and social ideals would also devastate the brand. if the market of 18-24 year olds for example stopped feeling the need to express independence and originality, then the entire marketing campaign of the All Star would become redundant almost instantaneously.
The standard buying decision process of:- 1. Need recognition & problem awareness 2. Information search 3. Evaluation of alternatives 4. Purchase 5. Post-purchase evaluation is used when purchasing a pair of Converse All Stars. However different weight is given to each category depending on the type of consumer. For a first time consumer information search might be the most important factor, the research is needed to check the All Stars style, popularity and price. while doing this they also evaluate the alternatives for the All Star.
Many shops now sell shoes similar to the Chuck Taylor for under half the price. although these are not original Converse brand shoes (generally missing a displayable brand all together) they are designed to look like replicates. In this case price is almost always the driving factor. Vans and Adidas sneakers while slightly more expensive can have a different appeal altogether depending on how people define themselves. For people that have purchased All Stars before and currently own one or several pairs the need and recognition will be the greatest factor.
Do i need to buy a new pair of sneakers? ’ ‘Should i stay with Converse All Stars, or try something new? ’. Asking these questions really determine if people are going to continue buying Converse or try a new brand. after the second purchase people begin to build loyalty to the brand as the sneakers have clearly satisfied their wants. This means a positive post purchase evaluation and the satisfaction continues even leading to word of mouth promotion about the product. So what triggers the need recognition process to begin with for consumers.
A look at the latest marketing strategy for the All Star gives a definitive look into a spark for customers realising they need the product. “Shoes keep it clean, Sneakers get dirty” This popular quote connects with all demographics. There is a very strong idea that shoes need to be kept clean. There is an entire market dedicated to ensuring shoes don’t scuff, wear out or take damage over time. This advertisement, challenges those beliefs and not only that, triggers a thought, ‘What if my shoes were meant to get dirty’. No more worrying about cleaning or only walking on footpaths.
The dirtier the shoes get the more they become a symbol against the system. Essentially this can be attributed to marketing. The clever campaigns challenge hidden conceptions that most people didn’t realise they had, ‘Having shoes means maintaining them so they look new’. This also fits into the rebellious image of the All Star of not caring about personal image, even if we know the contrary. Converse is a widely known brand across the sneaker market. when someone decides that they need more information about the All Star to evaluate its benefits to them they a large array of outlests to gather information from.
When a consumer asks a colleague or friend about the Converse All Star chances are they will have some opinion on the product, whether it be that Vans, Puma and Reebok are better choices or whether they own or once owned a pair and loved them. If the colleague has no opinion or has not heard of them then the chance of that person even considering to buy a pair of All Star sneakers has already decreased. The internet is another outlet available to consumers where people can get direct feedback from other consumers via blogs, reviews and opinion pieces.
This gives potential consumers in the search for information process a quick, cheap and easy way of gathering more information into the product. Using the internet to search for a product, or asking friends and colleagues for information will rarely result in core information not relating to other products. People and even the internet will benchmark products to draw comparisons. Product A may be comfortable to wear but Product B is more comfortable and gives ankle support. By itself Product A is satisfying all the comfort needs of the consumer, that is until it is compared to Product B.
The same goes for the All Star, a large number of websites not run by Converse itself will compare prices with similar products available. Asking people on their opinion will also lead to a comparison, people might come out as bluntly as saying, “You should buy a pair of Vans instead of those All Stars, Vans have more style”. This is a direct comparison and evaluation of Vans (A typical Evoked set considered when Purchasing Converse) leading not only to someone potentially not buying the All Star but also purchasing from the competition.
Ultimately it comes down to how we perceive our own lifestyle and how we want others to perceive us when picking between Converse and Vans. Vans compliment the skater, surfer look while Converse promote the rebellious, carefree lifestyle. After the initial need to purchase the All Star has been recognised, an information search has been done and the evaluation of alternatives is complete consumers are now ready to purchase a pair of All Stars.
This will primarily be based on the positive or the negative feedback gained in the evaluation process. The consumers willingness to listen to the feedback they received from the internet or their friends and colleagues will be the driving factor behind making the purchase. as long as all needs in the buying process up to this point have also been satisfied then there should be nothing in the way of making the purchase. The post purchase behaviour is going to really be what determines a consumers loyalty towards the All Star.
The consumer has done the research and evaluation, this should mean that the smart consumer received good feedback from the other steps in the process, weighed his options and decided to make the purchase, now with a certain expectation. First of all, well done, the consumer is now a member of an individual sect in society, caring more about rebellion than the mundane tasks their boss has set for them. Thanks to clever marketing converse All Stars can now get dirty and display even more independence than they did originally, meaning the more they are worn the more they begin to mean to consumers.