WWE Should Get into the Signature Sneaker Game
Imagine being able to rock a pair of sneakers as a way to showcase your WWE fandom.
WWE sneakers wouldn't have the street cred that Air Jordans have, but they could be fun additions to a WWE fan's memorabilia collection. Design them well enough and even non-WWE fans may slip a pair on.
The sports entertainment company already sells T-shirts, baseball caps and wristbands with pro wrestlers' names and likeness on them, so why not join the shoe-selling fray?
Shoes associated with athletes is big business.
Forbes.com reported that Michael Jordan earns "more than $60 million annually" in royalties. SportsOneSource reports (via Forbes.com) that LeBron James' signature shoes "generated $300 million in U.S. retail sales in 2012."
Of course, even WWE's biggest stars aren't as famous as either James or Jordan, but there's clearly money to be made here. There's no chance the lesser-known Justin Gabriel is going get his own shoe, but WWE's biggest stars could bring in some added cash for the company and themselves (via royalties) by adding Superstar shoes to WWE Shop's inventory.
A key difference between NBA players and WWE Superstars is that basketball players wear the shoes they're selling on the court while wrestlers generally wear wrestling boots. Still, fans will still want to buy a shoe that showcases the colors, logo and name of their favorite ring vet.
What do you buy a John Cena fan who essentially already has the WWE champ's entire merchandise collection? Fit him with a pair of signature Cena shoes that feature his "10 years strong" logo.
These ugly kid shoes don't count either. WWE has to create a shoe design that will get collectors to take notice and adults to wear them proudly.
With as often as Cena changes color schemes, there are sure to be a multitude of opportunities to put out a new Cena shoe. Cena's the perfect star to begin the trend with as well as he actually wears sneakers in the ring and used to pump up his Reebok's during matches.
WWE could design a CM Punk shoe that includes the Chicago flag as many of his T-shirts do. Dolph Ziggler's shoes could rock his old pink and blue color scheme or else a show-stealing blue and yellow design.
The company can continue in that retro direction by creating Bret Hart or Roddy Piper-inspired shoes. Folks who were fans when they were kids and have since stopped watching the product could be moved by nostalgia to don some Hulkamania shoes.
WWE can also avoid some of the pitfalls Nike has encountered.
WWE will want to avoid the violence and crimes too often associated with overzealous shoe fans that Jemele Hill wrote about in this ESPN.com piece. The fact that young men like Joshua Woods have been shot over a pair of Air Jordans should force WWE to tread carefully upon entering the signature shoe market.
Not charging $180 a pair is a great start. WWE shoes should be something families can afford to buy their kids. They should just be another item to grab up at WWE shows.
In entering the customized sneaker game, WWE can extend and profit from Superstars' brands. For fans, it simply means a fun way to add to their wardrobe, WWE style.
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