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The Digital World of Sneakerheads

The world of young sneaker fans is being revolutionized by a slew of new apps and sites from brands and startups digitizing the culture to cater to young consumers’ hunger for a product.

The world of sneakerheads is dominated by young male consumers, who passionately follow the industry, and influence it at the same time. But in a short amount of time, the niche but passionate culture has been becoming a more digital one. All Millennials and teens are growing up in a time when they can connect with those who share their interests, no matter how specific, online at any time. And once a brand sees that interest, they can respond with tools and tech that cater to any sub-group. That’s just what’s happening in the sneakerhead world, making it an interesting case study on the relationship between brands and super-target audiences, and the opportunities that exist within a passionate young fan base. Here are three examples of the new digitization of sneakerhead culture that examplify how small but powerful groups can be reached: 


A certain mobile dating app’s success with young consumers has led to “the Tinder effect,”  and swipe right/swipe left design is becoming a go-to design for apps that want to get the attention of Millennials and teens. “It’s like Tinder for…” has quickly become a phrase used to describe up and coming mobile startups simplifying processes and using the addictive swipe design to hook young users. Slang is the latest to be compared to the dating app. The startup is the “Tinder for sneakers,” providing a platform for sneakerheads to sell and buy high-end kicks in a swipe-right-swipe-left shopping format. Users can browse a feed of collectable sneakers being sold by other Slang members, and those who create a posting for sneaks on slang will have their listing posted anywhere that sneakers are sold to optimize the peer-to-peer retail process. The focused nature of the app cuts out the need to hunt for buyers and sellers on bigger resale sites like ebay, and instead creates a feed of exactly what users are looking for, connecting them with only those who share their passion for kicks. 


Kanye West’s sneaker collaborations with Nike were famously popular, so to handle the hype around their first design by the rapper, the Yeezy 750 Boost, Adidas created an app that could change the game for sneakerheads. Where they once would have woken up a dawn and stood in line to get their hands on one of the 9,000 pairs being released, now consumers have “a virtual line” in their hands. The app, Confirmed, is designed for selling limited edition sneakers, notifying users when a certain shoe is available in their area, and allowing them to reserve a size to purchase in person. 


A slew of news sites targeting the sneakerhead crowd has emerged to keep them posted on new shoe release dates, rumors, and design information galore–and they’re doing a better job keeping in touch with their target demographic than many brands. According to Digiday, “The site gets 4 million unique visitors and 30 million pageviews a month, according to Google Analytics. And at 3.5 million followers, its Instagram presence is similarly sizable — bigger, even, than Nike’s official Jordan’s account.” Because of sites like Sneakernews, and their ever-increasing ability to find information and other fans who share their passion, the sneakerhead audience is only growing. Brands who want to get the attention of young, engaged male readers (a tricky target) are heading to sites like this one.