Starbury for M(arket)V(alue)P(ricing)

Michael Jordan is the most elite basketball player to ever play the game. He's heralded as one of the greatest in history, not only for his incredible ability to execute his will during critical situations and to create jaw dropping plays but also for his business savvy as well. His trademark Jordan symbol, featured on sneakers, clothing, and licensed products is one of the most recognizable trademarks in the entire planet. Along with the Jordan brand, Nike owns a frightening collection of signed NBA Players and their respective sneakers. Reebok’s Allen Iverson sneakers continue to sell well, and even more recently Adidas launched its “It takes 5ive” campaign. This has made the basketball sneaker market a tougher market to penetrate than the Spurs' playoff defense. While each of their campaigns share a slightly different angle on penetrating the market (Jordan’s legendary almost immortal status, Lebron’s universal appeal, Allen Iverson’s street credibility, and Adidas' team mantra) they all share something very similar: their pricing point. Michael Jordan’s sneaker line, while tremendously popular for its brand and styling are also known for their high price point-- they cost over $100 dollars. It's the same with Lebron’s, Iverson’s and the entire line of Adidas sneakers. They say the greatest player in any sport not only plays the game well-- they change the game. If this is the case then sign a certain New York native to the marketing hall of fame.

Enter Stephon Marbury, local New York basketball legend, NBA All-Star and current point guard for the New York Knicks. He inked a deal with clothing retailer Steve & Barrys for an exclusive clothing and sneaker line, with every single item costing no more than $15 dollars (www.starbury.com). I find this to be a interesting and commendable move by Mr. Marbury. In the age and era where athletes constantly repeat charitable words with phrases such as “it’s all about the kids” and “I really want to find a way to give back to the community”, while their raucous actions completely contradict their messages, this is a refreshingly consistent message. It is nice to see someone put their sneaker where their mouth is. This differentiates and separates his product from his competition while still maintaining quality equivalent to his counterparts high-end sneaks.. Also Marbury has demonstrated his commitment to his “movement” by signing a deal in which he does not receive a lump sum (which most athletes opt for) for his endorsement upfront but rather is paid based on how the percentages of his sneaker sales. This is also evident in that the exact model of sneaker being sold is the exact model he wears on the NBA hardwood floor. Keeping with the all about community theme is the grass roots tour campaign in which Marbury travels city to city nationwide to do in-store guest spots, as well as going to local high schools and giving out samples of his sneakers. Physically going to local schools and colleges shows a commitment to his product, dedication to his business model and is a great way to generate word of mouth buzz. While there are some who question its quality and durability, Marbury states that “If you take my shoe and you take a $150 shoe, cut it down in half, it does the same exact thing”. Whether you like this sneaker, you simply can not ignore a $15 dollar sneaker in the current state of the $100 dollar plus basketball sneaker market. While exact figures were hard to disclose it has quite a bit of success. The Starburys are currently extremely popular among the young adult demographic with some of the models being sold for about double the retail price on ebay, has recently signed another NBA All-Star player (Ben Wallace) to endorse and BusinessWeek even named the line one of its best products of 2006. From my perspective, (being someone who plays basketball on a consistent basis) it give me great satisfaction that I can purchase a quality sneaker at an affordable price and thusly, can allocate the money I saved toward other necessities. I can honestly remember (actually still to this day) wanting a pair or Jordans or the new Lebrons, and the feeling I experienced when I realized that it’s not realistic for my current budget. With a pair of Starbury’s I don’t even blink an eye when it comes to purchasing one. From my perspective overall, a great concept, great sneaker and at a great price. Now about that championship…