While transcribing Brett Golliff‘s forthcoming Nike Basketball Elite Series “Design Insight” interview with Jason Petrie and Leo Chang, I came across a great slice of sneaker news which I’m pulling now to examine in deeper depth: Nike only made approximately 10,000 to 15,000 pairs per colorway for each of the three featured shoes in their Playoffs pack consisting of LeBron 9 PS Elite, Kobe VII Elite, and Zoom Hyperdunk 2011 Elite.
The newsworthy snippet materialized from the mouth of Swoosh hoops Design Director Leo Chang. Except for on certain super limited runs where everyone knows a particular shoe is produced in a quantity of say 1-of-12, or 1-of-100, and Nike advertises it as such, the company rarely discloses footwear production numbers. It happens from time to time to prove a sales point, like when Nike CEO Mark Parker disclosed that last year’s Jason Petrie-designed LeBron 8 model sold half a million pairs.
But it’s been an interest to us for a while now in how these new barrier breaking price points for the basketball category of $200 and $250+ would be received by consumers and what the total production run Nike is creating at those elevated sticker costs. Soccer athletes are used to $300 or $400 priced boots already, but it’s new territory for hoops sneakers by the major brands.
Let’s do some math before we get to the potential reasoning…
Nike LeBron 9 PS Elite ($250)
Nike Kobe VII Elite ($200)
Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011 Elite ($200)
So at a minimum level, 10,000 pairs times the $200 Kobe/Hyperdunk retail cost comes out to a $2 million take. 10,000 pairs times the $250 LeBron postseason shoe comes out to $2.5 million. 15,000 pairs equates to $3 million for the $200 kicks and $3.75 million for the $250 Bron.
Using those guides, we can estimate the known released and scheduled Nike Elite Series models (four LeBron 9 PS Elite colorways, and two each of the Kobe VII Elite and Hyperdunk 2011 Elite) and gather up the total take on the entire pack.
For the LeBron 9 PS Elite, a baseline 40,000 pairs (4 colorways x 10,000 shoes) comes out to a bottom line of $10 million, or playing the upper range, 60,000 pairs (4 colorways x 15,000 shoes) totaling $15 million.
For the Kobe and Hyperdunk, each have two colorways at somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 pairs for $4 million and $6 million respectively, or combined, $8 million for 40,000 pairs and $12 million for 60,000 pairs.
Add up the Kobe/Hyperdunk figures with the LeBron tally and with a combined 80,000 pairs produced for the trio of shoes on the low end you get a retail revenue line of $18 million dollars, or, at the top line of 120,000 pairs for the three Elite shoes produces a net retail gross in excess of $27 million dollars.
Ok, then. But what does it all mean?
What is Nike attempting to do with these high price points in basketball coupled with low production numbers? And why?
We pitched that question to our man Matt Powell, footwear industry analyst at SportsONESource. Here’s the exchange from my phone conversation with Matt on the subject…
CounterKicks: On Nike Basketball’s new Elite Series playoffs shoes, we’ve been told each colorway’s production run is only 10,000 to 15,000 pairs.
Matt Powell: That sounds about right. I think they’re really pushing the envelope on price there, but those kind of numbers sound about right.
CK: Are they just trying to test the price point or is this purely for the buzz and marketing hype of it? What do you think Nike is trying to do?
Powell: That’s an interesting question. I think we’re in a period now where we’re starting to really push the envelope on pricing. It’s somewhat uncharted territory. I think we really don’t know how a shoe is going to do at certain prices. I think there’s a little bit of guessing in price and at the same time I think Nike loves to always have less than there’s demand for.
Nike’s new price testing also serves as a bridge for upcoming product launches, and may help bridge consumers mentally to items like this summer’s coming Hyperdunk 2012 model which features a $275 sensor-equipped version and the looming $315 priced LeBron X+ rolling out this fall.
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