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How Michael Jordan and Nike Elevated the Status of the Air Jordan Brand

By Edited May 31, 2016 0 0

Air Jordan is one of the most successful and well-respected brands in the world.  Although it has its beginnings in basketball, you can now see athletes in wide variety of sports including baseball, boxing, football, and even Nascar who are sponsored by the Air Jordan Brand.  This article shares the history of the Air Jordan Brand-how it was founded on Michael Jordan's success on the basketball court and how it continues to flourish despite Jordan's retirement in 2003.

"Be Like Mike"

Michael Jordan's charisma and excellence on the basketball court was the foundation for the success of his brand.  He had all the characteristics of a great spokesperson:  he was handsome, eloquent, and was always well dressed.  These qualities made him an endorsement magnet and he was able to strike deals with major companies like McDonalds, Gatorade, Hanes and, of course, Nike. 

He definitely had all the tools to succeed as a marketer, but his great personality wouldn't have mattered if he didn't succeed on the basketball court.  Michael Jordan is regarded as the greatest basketball player to evey play the game.  He's achieved success at every level including a championship at The University of North Carolina, six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls, and two Gold Medals with the USA Basketball Team.  In addition, he's won 5 NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, 10 scoring titles, an NBA All-Star 14 times, and also Rookie of the Year in 1984.  And that's only a partial list of his accomplishments in the NBA.

Jordan's success has earned him credibility in regards to basketball.  As a result, consumers began to associate anything related to Jordan, including his shoes, as the best simply because he was wearing it.  Nike also began to capitilize on his success by starting the highly successful "Be Like Mike" campaign.  Obviously, Nike wasn't telling consumers to become 6'6" tall or have a 40" vertical jump because, ultimately, there's just some things that we have no control over.  However, there are some things that we CAN do (or purchase) if we really want to "Be Like Mike" and that's his clothes and shoes. 

The combination of Nike's marketing campaign and Jordan's success in the NBA has elevated the status of Air Jordan as the premier brand in basketball.  According to SportsOneSource, a sports-marketing firm, Air Jordan's market share is twice the size of Adidas and almost 87% of premium shoes (shoes that retail for over $100) that are sold in the US are Air Jordans.

Supply and Demand

The Air Jordan Brand also uses the law of supply and demand to elevate the status of its brand.  This law states that the demand for an item will increase as the supply goes down and, conversely, the demand for an item will decrease as the supply goes up.  Air Jordan uses this strategy during the release of their Retro Air Jordan's.  Retro's are basically re-releases of previous Air Jordan models.  For example, the Air Jordan XI was originally released in 1995 but it has been re-released (Retro) in 2002 and 2011.

The demand for Retro Air Jordan's are extremely high and to make sure it stays that way Nike only releases a limited number of pairs to the public.  By purposely keeping the supply low, this ensures that the demand and the perceived value of the shoes remain high.  The limited supply is the reason why you may see people lining up outside of Footlocker or Champs Sports in the middle of the night.  This strategy, however, has started to receive some backlash because of fights and riots that have occured during certain Air Jordan releases.

Jordan-Sponsored Athletes

When Michael Jordan finally retired in 2003 the Air Jordan Brand was faced with a difficult challenge:  How do they push the Brand forward now that it's main spokesman is retiring?  As stated earlier, a major reason for the success of the brand was Jordan's excellence on the basketball court.  Now that he's retired, the brand can no longer rely on that. 

In order to stay relevant in the NBA, Michael Jordan hand-selected players such as Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Martin, and Joe Johnson to carry the brand during the post-Jordan era.  Air Jordan has also expanded it's appeal by endorsing athletes in different sports such as Derek Jeter in baseball, Roy Jones, Jr. in boxing, and Andre Johnson in the NFL.  These athletes will ensure that Air Jordan will stay relevant for many years to come.

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