How Live Nation helped Asics break through with young music fans
Youth culture has always been at the core of the athletic shoe brand Asics. Yet recently the challenge has been that many of today’s young consumers are not as familiar with Asics as they are its largest rivals, including Nike and Adidas.
Young people are a notoriously difficult group to crack, as every consumer behavior study has shown. Meanwhile, the already cutthroat sneaker market has become even more challenged with the rise of the coronavirus pandemic. Many athletic and recreational activities have taken a time out—a terrible predicament for sneaker brands, whose sales the first week of April declined 75 percent year-over-year, per NPD, with every brand in the sector taking a hit.
Asics has been steadfast through the crisis, continuing to connect with the young consumers, sneakerheads and sports enthusiasts who are its targets via social media and the uninterrupted rollout of new products. Even though the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games have been postponed for a year, Asics, a sponsor of the event, still plans to release three Olympics-themed styles this year.
That momentum builds on the ambitious activations the brand did last summer with the largest entertainment company on the planet, Live Nation. In the latest case study from Ad Age Studio 30, contributor Tony Case writes, Asics found the perfect partner to appeal to young, culturally plugged-in consumers where they live, at three extremely popular live music festivals: Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Governors Ball.
Like retail and the athletic shoe market, the events and experiential marketing realm has also been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. If you’ve heard of an event, chances are it has been either canceled or postponed—everything from NCAA basketball March Madness and South by Southwest to the Met Gala and Cannes Lions. Meanwhile, concerts featuring acts from The Rolling Stones to Reba McEntire have had their plugs pulled.
Live Nation canceled Governors Ball and postponed Bonnaroo until September, while as of this writing, Lollapalooza was still a go for late July.
Yet, Live Nation, like Asics, has proved resilient during the pandemic, establishing an online concert hub called Live From Home and launching Crew Nation, a relief fund for crew workers to which it pledged $10 million. Even with business on pause, Live Nation seems to have weathered the worst of it. Its stock, after initially plummeting to half its value, bounced back following congressional approval of the stimulus package and the improvement of the situation in China, where the coronavirus originated. Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said he would take no salary this year, while other top executives of the company had their salaries cut. Rapino commented that Live Nation has the “financial strength to weather this difficult time,” adding, “We will be ready to ramp back up quickly and once again connect audiences to artists at the concerts they are looking forward to.” By early April, one analyst was predicting in Barron’s that Live Nation’s share price could more than double in three years’ time.
Surprisingly, Daniel Green, director of the Master of Entertainment Industry Management program at Carnegie Mellon University, believes our emergence from the crisis can only benefit the live events business. “Entertainment is perhaps more important now than ever before,” he said. “Assuming the threat of the coronavirus has been resolved, I think audiences will be back in droves.”
In other words, Live is still alive.
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