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  • Writer's pictureFox Ellis

The 'Drop Culture' Strategy

Consumers toughing out the bad weather to get their hands on a new drop

For athletes and musicians alike, it’s important to keep your ears to the streets. By knowing what’s relevant to the modern consumer culture, you position your personal brand for notoriety and growth. In order for your brand to thrive, merchandising should be a central focus as it gives fans a unique piece of who you are as an individual.

Enter, drop culture.

As e-commerce has begun to rise above brick-and-mortar establishments, drops have become an extremely prevalent marketing strategy for brands. If you’re not familiar with drop culture, drops are characterized a limited release of a product, with little or no warning, building anticipation and desire around both the products and the brand.

There’s exclusivity with drops, not found in many marketing strategies, that creates an urgency in the consumer. While not an entirely new strategy, drops were brought to life in the 2010s by a number of fashion brands including BAPE and Supreme, and perhaps most notably, Yeezy. After making the jump from Nike to Adidas, Kanye West’s credibility and notoriety outside of the hip-hop world has risen greatly. The Adidas deal isn’t, of course, the only thing that improved Ye’s stock, but it certainly helped. Yeezy footwear, and fashion, has become a mainstay in the hype beast community, leveraging both the artist’s namesake, and law in psychology referred to as the scarcity principle.

The scarcity principle refers to the fact that humans place a higher value on objects that are seen as rare or hard to obtain; it’s your classic case of supply and demand. When the first Yeezy/Adidas collab dropped in 2015, it was one of the more hyped sneaker releases in recent time. And while some of the excitement that surrounds Yeezy drops has faded, the values bestowed on culture still hold strong.

So, why is the drop strategy beneficial?

It Drives Brand Awareness

Many influencers with strong personal brands use merch to boost publicity and brand awareness, therefore, when looking to compete for attention, this is a great way to rise above the rest. The hype built around a drop becomes appealing to those in and out of your fanbase, creating a little bit of FOMO. With the right strategy, targeted on the right social channels, be ready for all eyes to be on you.

It Captures a Moment in Time

Not unlike the excitement of ticket sales for a big concert or event, drops leverage the excitement of a moment. If you’re an athlete, and your team has just made the playoffs, this is a prime opportunity to align with the excitement of your fanbase.

Merchandise that parallels this moment in time creates an urgency for fans wanting to be a part of it. For the personal brand of an athlete, or an artist, your fans are your most important asset. The release of new merchandise can be extremely exciting for followers of a particular influencer, so if you’re considering a drop strategy, it’s important to practice exclusivity without exclusion.

Here are three steps in putting your drop strategy to work

1. Build Hype Have you ever been invited to a wedding? If so, it’s likely that you got a save-the-date from the soon-to-be newlyweds. The same line of thinking can be applied to a drop. It should be your goal to create as much excitement as possible surrounding your brand. With the help of powerful social campaigns, your brand can distribute content to the right audience and communities, gaining the attention needed to create a successful drop.

2. Leverage Scarcity By building immense hype, you’re creating excitement from your loyal fanbase and even outsiders. Don’t hide the limitation, it builds a certain aura around the brand. This is a great opportunity to capture the attention of many, and you can use this to your advantage.

One great way of using scarcity to your advantage is creating exclusive access opportunities. Limiting certain drops or specific products to members-only events or digital memberships helps build even more excitement and desire, making your brand an entity that people want to be a part of.

3. Deliver Quality While you can build all of the hype and anticipation in the world around your brand and its products, if the overall quality of the product does not deliver, consumers will know. The design, quality, and service must exceed the expectations of the consumers who are putting forth time and money to support your brand, otherwise, it’s likely you’ll lose customers and even followers.

On the other side of the coin, delivering on the hype with unique, and appealing products, will only increase the hype for the next drop.

Drop culture is an exciting way to deliver your brand’s message in the form of merchandise to your loyal following. Executing a drop correctly can benefit that following, as well as enhance your overall brand and popularity. It looks like drops are here to stay for brands, so what’s your game plan?

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