If truly the only goal of the Ball family’s Big Baller Brand is to appeal to “ballers” — people who can afford overpriced, mediocrely designed gear just for the sake of having it — then Triple B is on the right track.
With the price point for Lonzo Ball’s ZO2, $495, made official the other day, it’s clear that Big Baller Brand is going to do things its own way and buck the trend of what most young, soon-to-be NBA players do. We can get into the completely batshit explanations and reasoning that LaVar has given for the price point — not to mention the $220 slides — but here’s what I will say: I understand why the family is doing Lonzo’s shoe this way.
To clarify, I mean that I understand why the family would use its own brand to kick off Lonzo signature shoe line. In a world where high-profile players like John Wall and Isaiah Thomas don’t have signature kicks yet, where it took Paul George seven (six really) seasons to get his own signature, it makes sense why someone would want to change things up.
Yeah, that’s all I’ve got in terms of understanding. Literally everything else these self-proclaimed “big ballers” are doing is ridiculous nonsense resulting from a lack of business acumen.
Praise LaVar Ball all you want for his marketing “prowess.” Call him a genius for spending all of Lonzo’s only collegiate season saying outrageous things and getting his family’s faces and his family’s brand on TV over and over again. Everything he did falls under the “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” belief, right?
I can’t agree with that because people, especially LaVar Ball, seem to be equating brand recognition with brand loyalty. Sure, millions of people are aware of Big Baller Brand because it’s been everywhere in the media thanks to LaVar’s nonsensical ramblings. However, why are people assuming that awareness is going to automatically lead to success?
Big Baller Brand sells shirts, hoodies, and hats for upwards of $100. The products look like they were hastily designed by someone with rudimentary design knowledge in Photoshop — which they likely were, assumedly by LaVar, since he knows all, apparently. The designs are either ugly, overly minimalist, or, impressively, both. And now you bring in a $495 shoe that looks like a Kobe knockoff and a $220 slide that could easily be a re-skinned Air Jordan.
Could familiar designs actually work? Absolutely. If the shoe were cheaper than the popular sneakers they somewhat mimic. The problem is: people who want good-looking sneakers can go buy THREE pairs for what BBB is selling one for.
I don’t think any amount of brand recognition is going to alleviate that major hang-up. LaVar compared the shoe/slide’s price point to that of Gucci, a company that has been around for over 100 years. Gucci established itself from the beginning as a provider of high-end, luxury goods, with roots dating back to the late 19th century. Where the company is now in terms of success and brand loyalty didn’t happen overnight, but LaVar is acting like his brand will parallel that success as soon as this shoe drops.
He couldn’t be more wrong and, while we’re at it, does that mean he’s going after competitors in the high-end fashion market? Because he’s going to lose and lose badly. The problem with BBB targeting that market is that, while brands like Gucci, Fendi, and Prada are overpriced, the clothes and shoes are well-designed and very fashionable. Big Baller Brand’s stuff is neither.
From the jump, this company has an identity crisis. The product is more expensive and less stylish than Nike, Air Jordan, Adidas, Reebok, and Under Armour while being similarly priced and vastly less stylish than Gucci, Prada, etc. There’s really no section of the fashion/athletic market for this brand. LaVar is trying to squeeze his Big Ballers into an already overcrowded fashion industry without a hook. His hook is “if you can’t afford $495 shoe, you don’t deserve to have it.” Good one, dawg.
As we’ve covered, this guy — along with some of his supporters — continue to confuse brand recognition with brand loyalty. If you know Big Baller Brand, you’re going to buy it. Consumers in 2017 are not nearly that stupid and have an abundance of resources to find rare kicks, nice shirts, and cool hats, all while NOT spending $495 on a non-refundable, non-exchangeable shoe.
That’s another ridiculous thing. Did no one tell LaVar that Gucci offers a 30-day return policy? The way he’s “building” this brand isn’t innovative. It isn’t cool. It isn’t how ballers do it. Real ballers would work with the right people to create a brand that offers something positive that the other major athletic apparel companies don’t, while at least feigning respect for its target consumer.
Lonzo hasn’t even touched an NBA court and his younger brothers haven’t touched a collegiate court. Already reputations are on the line thanks to the absurdly bad business decisions being made. I just hope that the kids get through this without too much negativity because they seem like fine young men. However, LaVar is setting BBB up for failure and his kids will be in the crosshairs because of it.
LaVar said in an interview that they turned down deals from Nike and the others worth millions because they’re after more than that. They’re after “the B…billions.” Well, I’m certainly seeing a B in BBB’s future.