With sneaker bots becoming such an issue that Nike has started to cancel online releases, one financial blogger shared his opinion on what the brand could do to fix the problem and more importantly, why it won't.
Writing for Fusion, economist Felix Salmon proposed a few ways that he thinks Nike could combat and eventually put an end to bots completely. Salmon's first suggestion is something that most readers probably don't want to hear, but actually makes a lot of sense. He says that the reason Nike shoes garner so much coin on the secondary market is because they're under-priced to begin with.
"If a sneaker sells for $150 on the primary market and then immediately fetches $300 on eBay, for instance, then Nike could have made twice as much money by just charging $300 in the first place," Salmon said.
This might sound like a novel idea to Salmon, but we all know how ridiculous this concept is.
Next, Salmon compares Nike's attitude towards bots to the music industry's hand in ticket sales. More specifically, he points to the fact that both industries knowingly create limited runs of product with massive amounts of demand.
"If Nike increased the size of its editions, nobody would know. Here’s a weird fact about limited-edition Nikes: Nike very rarely bothers to reveal the edition size for these things," Salmon said.
And he's right. Aside from maybe the "Undefeated" Air Jordan IVs or the individually numbered Jordan 1s from the early 2000s, how many Nike sneakers can you say with certainty were produced in "X" amount of pairs? We'll wait.
Of course, without sneakers that are priced low enough that they're attainable to the average consumer, and without limited production runs, there would be no sneakerhead culture. Furthermore, Salmon says that limited sneakers actually help boost the sales of general releases.
"If there’s a whole world out there of people paying $190 for a pair of Air Jordans and then turning around and selling them for a $500 profit, that makes the $190 retail price for the non-limited edition look much more reasonable. In that way, the limited editions help to sell the mass-market shoes," he said.
Ultimately, Salmon traces it all back to one man: "Mostly, it’s [Michael] Jordan. If and when the power of the Air Jordan brand ever peters out, nothing else is going to replace it. Which means that the Nikebots are going to fade away only when and if Michael Jordan does," he said.