Product managers have to work hard to make a shoe worth US$200!

Product managers have to work hard to make a shoe worth US$200!
Image sneakernews.com Credit:

Does anyone remember the shoe company Adidas? Back in the day, they were hot stuff. However, in the world of highly competitive sports shoes, their product development definition and the company just faded away over time. However, they didn’t go away and they are in the process of trying to stage a comeback. It’s going to be up to their product managers to make this happen. Can they do it when they are competing with big, well established companies like Nike and Reebok?

It’s Time To Call In Kanya West

The product managers at Adidas know that they have an uphill battle to get customers to once again to both want and buy their shoes. In the world of shoes, it’s long been known that if you can get a celebrity to endorse your product, people will want to buy it because they want to be more like that celebrity. The classic case of this were Nike’s “Air Jordans” who had the support of basketball great Michael Jordan when he was at the height of his fame.

The Adidas product managers realize this. They believe that all they need is a famous person to endorse their shoe, it does not have to an athlete. This has lead them to enter into an agreement with Kanye West. What the product managers need him to do is to be seen wearing their new Yeezy Boost shoe when he goes stepping out. If this happens, then somebody’s going to have something to add to their product manager resume.

In order to boost the buzz about their new shoes, the Adidas product managers are trying something else also. Specifically, they are releasing fewer pairs of their new shoes than their marketing studies are telling them that the market wants. This has caused lines to form at the stores that do have some copies of the product and people are not having any problems paying US$200 to get their hands on a pair of these shoes.

It’s All About The Boost That Your Shoe Can Give You

Kanye West is a popular singer, there can be no doubt about that. However, not everyone likes him or wants to be like him. What this means for the Adidas product managers is that they can’t put all of their eggs in one basket. They are going to need something else that is going to make their new Yeezy Boost shoes attractive to people who are out buying shoes.

Adidas has gone back to its German engineering roots and created what they call Boost. Boost is a proprietary plastic that the company gets from German chemical company BASF. This plastic is then used to create the soles of the Yeezy Boost shoes. According to the Adidas product managers, this gives the shoes demonstrably superior athletic performance. Adidas says that the new soles release far more energy than any other soles that are currently on the market.

Adidas has struggled in the past few years because they have not done a good job of connecting with their customers. Nike has done an excellent job of connecting with their customers and thereby making them want Nike products. The new sole technology that comes with the Yeezy Boost shoes appears to give the Adidas product managers another chance. Right now consumers are less worried about connecting with their vendors and more interested in the performance and product quality of what they are buying. Adidas strengths in both materials and product quality should serve them well in this area.

What All Of This Means For You

I’m sure that many of us know what it’s like to be considered to be down and out. The product managers at Adidas who had chosen to focus on soccer and engineering during the 1980s and 1990s were passed over as the other sports shoe manufactures focused on connecting with their customers. Things may be changing for Adidas now.

The product managers at Adidas are preparing to roll out a new line of shoes that they are hoping will help the company regain its footing (sorry for the pun) in the marketplace. The approach that they are taking has two prongs to it. The first is to make their new line of shoes, Yeezy Boost, more attractive to potential customers by getting the popular singer Kanya West to endorse and wear them. Making your product popular is a part of everyone’s product manager job description. The next approach is to incorporate a revolutionary plastic into the shoe’s soles. This plastic allows the shoe to return a great deal of the energy that is put into it allowing for better athletic performance. The Adidas product managers are hopeful that both of these features will attract a large number of customers.

The Adidas product managers are clever in that they have created an artificial shortage of their popular product. Having a popular singer endorse the product and agree to be seen in public wearing the product will also help to make potential customers aware of it. If they can get some positive reviews written about the engineering that has gone into the shoe’s soles, then they are almost guaranteed to be a winner in this race.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think getting multiple celebrities to endorse your product would boost its chances of success?

Click here to get automatic updates when
The Accidental Product Manager Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Product Manager Newsletter are now available. It’s your product – it’s your career. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As product managers sometimes we have to sit back and just watch our competition execute a fantastic marketing program. Due to limitations that might be budget based, resource based, related to our product development definition, or simply lack of time based there is nothing that we can do to counter what our competition is doing. As their sales then zoom up we kick ourselves for not being able to come up with an effective program to counter their moves. This is no fun. Over at the mobile service provider Sprint this was happening to them. However, then they decided to do something very bold…

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Hot products don't stay hot forever

Hot products don’t stay hot forever

Image Credit: Geraint Rowland

Hot products is what all of us product managers really want. We want the product that we are responsible for to be the one that is flying off of the shelves. Although this may be a great fantasy for most of us, some of us do find ourselves in this situation. However, nothing lasts forever. What’s a product manager to do when your once hot product starts to cool down?

The Problem With The Apple iPad

Gosh – I sure would like to have one of those super skinny Apple iPads, wouldn’t you? When Apple first introduced the iPad we were all amazed – this was a revolutionary new form of computing. It was all touchscreen and a lot smaller than even the smallest laptop. There for a while they seemed to be showing up just about everywhere – car dealerships, restaurants, etc. However, apparently the answer to the question “do you want an iPad” is not so much anymore. Clearly a change in the iPad’s product development definition is being called for.

iPad sales have been falling for six straight financial quarters. In the past six month, the amount of revenue that iPad sales have brought in has been declining by 24% when compared with the year before. It’s pretty clear what is going on here: the newness of the iPads has worn off. People were very excited by this product when it came out; however, now that novelty has worn off.

The Apple product managers are in a bit of a bind here. We are all highly aware that Apple releases new versions of their products at press conferences that are globally anticipated events. However, sales of their iPad product are falling right now. Sure, they’ll probably get a boost when the new version comes out, but that could be a long time in the future. Additionally, that boost might just be temporary – the iPad will seem “cool” again for just a little while. A better solution is needed.

How Apple Is Trying To Make The iPad Hot Again

Clearly what is needed here is some innovative thinking by the Apple product managers. Now if you know anything about the company Apple, you’d know that they like to do things their own way – they don’t really need anyone else to help them out. However, in the case of the declining iPad sales this may not be the case. Maybe it’s time to ask for some help.

What the Apple iPad product managers are doing is they are starting to take a look at the markets that the iPad has worked its way into. Despite declining sales, the business market continues to be a very good market for the iPad. What the product managers would like to have happen is to have even more businesses buy iPads. In order to make this happen, the Apple product managers are starting to reach out to iPad software vendors, even the small ones, and offer them some assistance. This is going to look good on their product manager resume.

What the Apple product managers want to do is to build an ecosystem of iPad apps that work well together in order to make iPads appear to be more desirable. In order to make this happen software developers are being invited to Apple internal meetings and conferences. Apple is reviewing their products and making usability suggestions. Additionally, in the Apple stores when business people ask for advice, they are being steered to iPad software vendors who can offer them iPad based solutions to their problems.

What All Of This Means For You

Being a product manager in charge of a hot product is a great thing indeed. However, the reality of the world is that even the hottest product will eventually start to cool down. Our product manager job description doesn’t tell us what to do in this situation. As product managers we need to be ready for this with a plan. The Apple iPad product managers are experiencing slumping sales and so they need to figure out a way to boost their sales.

The iPad has been losing ground for quite some time. The one bright spot in the market for them has been business customers. This has caused the Apple product managers to start to reach out to iPad business software development firms in order to see how they can help capture more customers. Apple is working with these firms to try to create seamless business solutions that will cause potential customers to purchase more iPads.

This approach to solving the problem of the cooling of their once hot iPads actually seems like a very good idea. We all know that Apple is probably also working on a new version of the iPad that will be announced in the future. However, by creating a strong software infrastructure the Apple product managers will have made it so that customers will want to buy their product for what it does, not just how great it looks.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that talking about the business software environment for the iPad should be part of the next iPad release?

Click here to get automatic updates when
The Accidental Product Manager Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Product Manager Newsletter are now available. It’s your product – it’s your career. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Does anyone remember the shoe company Adidas? Back in the day, they were hot stuff. However, in the world of highly competitive sports shoes, their product development definition and the company just faded away over time. However, they didn’t go away and they are in the process of trying to stage a comeback. It’s going to be up to their product managers to make this happen. Can they do it when they are competing with big, well established companies like Nike and Reebok?

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