Understanding Sneaker Culture: A Segmentation Study

At the Quirks Event in Chicago, David Liss of Bleacher Report and Jillian Kramer of Ypulse discussed using a segmentation study to inform advertising and content development for B/R Kicks. While Bleacher Report aims to be the best combination of sports and sports culture for the next generation of sports fans, B/R Kicks focuses on sneaker culture, with 1.5 million app stream subscribers. While sneaker culture in the 1990s was very exclusive to those who owned the most sneakers, now it is very inclusive of anyone who cares about sneakers, regardless of the size of their collection.

Heartbeats is an internal resource, “a thought leadership platform that combines first- and third-party data to contextualize user behavior and better understand the hyper-connected fan.” Bleacher Report worked with Ypulse to profile sneaker culture for Heartbeats. Key facts:

  • The average sneakerhead owns 17 pairs of sneakers.
  • 76% of a typical sneakerhead’s real-life friends know they’re into sneakers.
  • 60% of sneaker enthusiasts talk to their friends about sneakers all the time.
  • The biggest draw for the sneaker community is expressing their identity.
  • If you do a geography of brand allegiance across the U.S., the most popular sneaker brands in the Pacific zone are Nike and Under Armour, Adidas in the Mountain zone, Nike in the Midwest, YZY Off-white in New England, and Jordan in Texas and the South.
  • Athletic star power and celebrity star power in the sneaker community are different: as influencers, Kendall Jenner outpulled the average NBA player, as did Chance the Rapper and Justin Bieber.

Ypulse did a psychographic segmentation study, uncovering four key segments:

  • The OG – Into the full sneaker experience, art and fashion take, self-expression, and information sharing. “They feel inspired and creative thanks to sneaker culture.” A little bit older, leaders.
  • The Culture Creator – Social, athletic, analytical, hyped. “They like showing off and starting conversations with their kicks.” Gatekeepers of what’s cool.
  • The Clout Chaser – Thrill-seeking. Trendy. Social media savvy. “Sneakers help them stay ahead of the curve, impress their peers, and make new friends. The side hustle of resale is a draw for some.”
  • The Trend Tracker – Chill, stylish, empathetic, independent. “They see the culture as diverse, always new, and constantly entertaining.”

The average for most expensive pair of sneakers owned is $439 for OG, $661 for Culture Creator, $255 for Clout Chaser, and $181 for Trend Tracker.

Each segment behaves differently, describes themselves differently, and engages with different content. Ypulse developed content guidelines for B/R Kicks by segment. For instance, the OG want artistic inspiration, unique points of view, and culture knowledge.

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