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How Kanye West’s Yeezy Boost 350s Sold Out In 12 Minutes

Andrea Lee
Andrea Lee
April 6, 2016
2 min read
How Kanye West’s Yeezy Boost 350s Sold Out In 12 Minutes

Ask any hip-hop or sneaker fan about the coolest shoes around, and the answer will very likely be a Yeezy.

In 2015, the Adidas Yeezy Boosts won the FNAA “Shoe of the Year Award”, a nod towards the success of the Kanye West and Adidas Originals collaboration.

In fact, in 2015, sales at Adidas increased by 14% and net income went up 10%, in no small part due to the Yeezy Boost partnership.

With the launch of each season of Yeezys, web servers crashed, shoes sold out in under an hour and resale values surged to new record highs.

How did the Yeezy Boost become the most coveted sneaker of the moment? Let us find out more about this marketing miracle.

1. Kanye himself promotes the brand, wearing his merch at concerts, award shows, and so on.

kanye promoting yeezy

First off, the man himself is somewhat a legend. Kanye is not only a multi-talented artist and musician, but he is also highly regarded as a celebrity fashion icon.

With 18.6 million followers on twitter, Kanye has a huge fan following for his provocative views and tastes, and all this hype is amplified by his association with the Kardashian-Jenner clan.

Weeks prior to the launch of each season of Yeezys, Kanye proudly wears his personal pair of Yeezys to his own concerts and shows. Paparazzi and fans are eager to catch a glimpse of the sneakers, and this builds up the hype and anticipation way before the official launch.

To put it simply, when you’ve got fame in the bag as Kanye does, anything you do is talk-worthy.

Word-of-mouth tip: You are the best ambassador of your brand. Be proud of your own product and don’t be afraid to show it. If you know it’s good, flaunt it and talk about it like it is, and people can’t help but talk about it too. This is one of the most natural ways of generating tons of WOM.

2. Limited release to build exclusivity and hype, making the shoes even more in demand.

kanye yeezy boost 350 sold out

With each seasonal release of the Yeezy Boost, only a limited number of pairs are made available. In the latest launch of Season 3, Kanye confirmed that only 9,000 pairs were available.

The average consumer cannot simply hope to walk into their nearest Adidas store to purchase a pair. You have to devotedly keep up with the pre-launch news and publicity to get the latest scoop on how to score yourself a pair.

Then when the big day comes, you have to sit by your computer or mobile phones and refresh your web page perhaps close to a hundred times to pre-order online.

If that doesn’t work, you can enter online raffles in the hopes of snagging a pair. And even then, you have to count on your lucky stars.

Word-of-mouth tip: Exclusivity is alluring. When there is a limit to the quantity of a product available, everyone will be clamouring for it. And when you’ve got it, you’ll probably be bragging about it. Exclusivity generates tons of WOM around a product because everyone will be talking about trying to get it, or how they got it.

3. Targeted celebrity endorsement to make sure that the product is always in the media's eye

Now out to do some gift shopping. My favorite thing to do

A photo posted by King Kylie (@kyliejenner) on Jun 20, 2015 at 1:05pm PDT

To further build up the exclusivity of the Yeezy brand, Kanye made sure to send a pair of the highly coveted sneakers to his A list group of celebrity friends. Celebrities like Justin Bieber, Calvin Harris, and the entire Kardashian-Jenner clan were the first to receive their Yeezy Boosts.

Kanye even made sure to gift two pairs of the Yeezy Boost to President Obama himself.

Exclusive even amongst the A list group, these celebrities quickly took to Instagram to let their massive fan bases know that they were on Team Yeezy.

The target audience of the Yeezy brand is fashion-conscious millennials, with high purchasing power, who keep afloat with the trends.

And the most obvious way to keep up with the trends is by literally keeping up with the Kardashians (and other celebrities) on their social media feeds.

Word-of-mouth tip: Celebrity endorsement is the most powerful WOM marketing tool available, and generates tons of WOM amongst today’s tech-savvy, trend-conscious youth.

4. Use of social media to build hype and reveal previews

Season 3 invite

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) February 10, 2016

Kanye is known as somewhat of an egoist, and he isn’t afraid to make use of his celebrity status to build up even more publicity for his brand.

Days before the launch of Yeezy Season 3, Kanye took to Twitter to show off the star-studded list of guests invited to the launch of Season 3, with names like Rick Flair, Hulk Hogan, and Phil Jackson.

He also made sure to tap on Kylie Jenner’s massive fan following, dispelling rumours that Kylie Jenner was doing a collaboration with PUMA while not so subtly promoting the Yeezy brand, tweeting, “1000% Kylie is on Yeezy team!!!”

Word-of-mouth tip: Strategic use of social media marketing is a great way to influence consumer choice and decision-making. Especially when posts are organic and come from real people themselves, they make a resounding impact on the target audience.

Recap: How did the Yeezy brand establish itself to be one of the most coveted sneakers around?

  1. Kanye taps on his own celebrity power to publicise the brand
  2. Exclusivity keeps demand for the shoes high
  3. Making use of celebrity endorsement keeps attention on the brand
  4. Effective use of social media to release previews of new products


Read next: Footwear Referral Program Examples: GREATS

Andrea Lee
Andrea Lee

Andrea is an undergraduate majoring in international relations and East Asian politics. She enjoys a good run in the city.

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