In a classic example of research on a shoestring budget, two University of St. Thomas statistics instructors determined fewer students buy Nike athletic shoes if their professors wear the brand to class.
The study by Associate Professors Paul Alper and Robert Raymond cost Nike just two pairs of Nike Air running shoes, which the men proposed wearing in one class, while donning street shoes for the other.
The methodology was muddied somewhat because of Mr. Alper's "principled" refusal to wear his Nikes because they didn't fit and because he wouldn't have been paid by Nike, which doles out great sums of money to college basketball coaches so their players wear the brand.
Mr. Raymond faithfully wore his shoes throughout the spring semester, and surveyed students about their shoe-buying habits.
The results? Four of the 12 students (33%) bought Nikes during the spring semester, down from seven of the 16 (43%) in the fall term.
"It appears that the effects are stronger if I'm not wearing the shoes," Mr. Raymond said.
A written report will be delivered to Nike this summer. In the meantime, the marketer has said nothing about the results.