Deep Dive: Of Sneakers & Rappers — Yeezy vs Air Jordan Fans

Oct 10, 2018 | Insights

Kanye is going to let Taylor finish, but only after he makes it known that Yeezy sneakers are some of the best of all time (yes, we know it’s a dated and hackneyed reference, but we’re people pleasers. Plus, the idea of Taylor Swift wearing that gown to go sneaker shopping is not without its charm).

In 1986, when Run-D.M.C. released the first single from their album ‘Raising Hell’ — the first ever hip hop album to go platinum — the idea of any musician having a sneaker sponsorship wasn’t even a pipe dream.

The song “My Adidas” was an honest homage for which the German sportswear manufacturer did not pay a cent (of course, the two entities did later work together). The song was about more than just the trio’s shoes. Still, the word Adidas was featured prominently.

32 years later we think nothing of hip hop acts having corporate sponsorships and even their own successful clothing lines.

Putting the StatSocial audience analysis engine to work, here we’re taking a deep dive into the stats surrounding those most excited about Kanye West’s Yeezy sneakers, and the biggest fans of Nike’s iconic Air Jordan line.

YEEZY

As much as the public may share a laugh over Kanye West’s braggadocious manner, they also quite enjoy purchasing his music and attending his concerts in droves. They say it ain’t bragging if it’s true.

It’s been reported by many sources that West’s Yeezy fashion brand — developed in collaboration with Adidas — received a $1.5 billion valuation this past August. With West the majority shareholder, it seems he may very well be a billionaire (or quite close).

Kanye has developed footwear in collaboration with a number of brands over the years, including Nike (who we’ll be getting to).

In addition to his Nike Air Yeezy sneakers, West designed shoes in collaboration with Louis Vuitton, BAPE, and (Adidas-owned) Reebok.

A summary of Kanye’s history in the footwear biz can be checked out here.

While Yeezy sneakers have sold like hotcakes, the accompanying clothing line has found less success. Adidas is no longer producing the clothing, but is all too happy to stay in the Yeezy footwear biz.

Earlier this year West announced that the non-footwear aspect of the Yeezy brand would be produced in collaboration with Louis Vuitton. It seems these plans have fallen through. It’s unclear what the future may hold for that part of the business.

In this 2013 interview — from soon after Kanye severed ties with Nike —West name-drops Vuitton. He also makes it known that he has found a partner for the Yeezy venture willing to meet the royalty demands that apparently caused things with Nike to go south. This was of course Adidas.

One may roll their eyes, but have we mentioned the widely-reported speculation that Yeezy received a $1.5 billion valuation a mere two months ago?

The brand very recently took a hit. The NBA has banned this year’s brand-new Yeezy basketball shoe design from being worn during league play. The expectation was that Adidas sponsored NBA players would be wearing them during the 2018–2019 season. The NBA worried that the shoes’ reflective tape adornment would prove distracting for fans both in arenas and on TV.

AIR JORDAN

After only a month in the NBA, in 1984, Michael Jordan was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. His status as the “greatest of all time” wasn’t yet cemented, but there was little refuting that this kid was a superstar. His career and the history of the shoe Nike developed to capitalize on his stardom are easily researched elsewhere.

Air Jordans and rappers have long made a natural match. Nike has nurtured a relationship with a number of hip hop’s biggest names. This included, for a time, Kanye. There have been quite a few Nike signature shoes and custom one-offs for assorted music stars, while others are simply often wearing one of the many varieties of existing Air Jordans.

Jay-Z is frequently seen in one of his (what we’re certain are countless) pairs of Jordan IIIs.

Eminem has been involved with a small handful of signature Air Jordans over the years. Each was produced for an exceedingly limited run, and are known to fetch huge sums of cash for a pair. They are easily among the most expensive and collectible sneakers there are.

Some of the rarest and most collectible of all sneakers are the collaborations the brand did with multi-multi-platinum rapper Eminem. Pictured here is the 2015 ‘Eminem x Air Jordan 4,’ created to be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Marshall Mathers Foundation. The auction earned over $227 thousand. It is said that 313 pairs were produced in tribute to the area code of Eminem’s hometown of Detroit.

DJ Khaled collaborated with Nike and the Jordan brand on three occasions. While never officially for sale, they’ve been available through promotional giveaways.

Drake and his OVO (October’s Very Own) fashion label have collaborated on two different styles of Jordans. Macklemore has had his own personal Jordan as well.

Nicki Minaj seen wearing her custom Jordan Jasmines.

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METHODOLOGY: What we’ve done for this study is identify those individuals in the social media sphere most outspoken in their fondness for either Yeezy or Air Jordan. We didn’t narrow it down those Air Jordan fans also fond of hip hop. That affinity was already abundantly present among Jordan’s admirers. On this occasion there was no need to flex StatSocial’s capabilities for more granular exploration. Rest assured, if needed, our mighty platform is quite up to the task.

Anyway, let’s dig in.

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An Explanation of the Insights Below:

These insights are sorted according to our index score. That tells users the degree to which the audience being analyzed either exceeds, is in line with, or falls short of the average American social media audience — the baseline we’re using for this piece — when it comes to sharing in a given affinity. Our platform allows tremendous flexibility in terms of what baseline you may use to give your statistics context, but for this we’re going with the U.S. average.

Raw numbers are an important metric, but can mislead. For example, Ellen DeGeneres has 76 million followers on Twitter, 29 million on Facebook, 27 million subscribers on YouTube, etc. When sorted by raw number alone Ellen may top a lot of lists, including those where the proportion of the analyzed audience who are her fans falls well short of the average.

Viewing an audience’s affinities through the lens of our index score is one of the key insights into what makes an audience distinctive. It gives raw numbers context. Armed with that knowledge, navigating the social media landscape no longer entails any guesswork.

PLEASE NOTE: While each of the below topics highlights a top 10 list, our taxonomies for these subjects — and many more — number in the thousands.

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THE BASIC DEMOS

SEX

Yeezy

Air Jordan

As the pic of Ms. Minaj above shows, women do wear these sneakers. Not only do women actively exercise and participate in athletics — the purposes for which the footwear is first and foremost theoretically designed — they also do enjoy the aesthetic as well. All the same, it’s not surprising that the main consumers in this marketplace are men.

Women dwell among the Jordans crowd to a larger degree, though, representing a not insignificant one-fifth of the audience.

AGE

Yeezy

It probably surprises no one that those ages 18 to 24 are the bracket most over-indexed among Yeezy’s devotees. Those ages, already accounting for nearly 18% of the average American social media audience, exist here to a degree exceeding that by three-and-one-third-times.

More surprising, though, is that while under-indexed, a still not easily dismissed 8% of the Yeezy audience is over 54.

Air Jordan

While our stats are impartial and for users to interpret, these blog entries will share hypotheses now and then. Here, we’ll opine that the larger proportion o Air Jordan fans is between 25 and 44 is most likely owing to the age of the brand. Those brackets are here to degrees nearly in keeping with the baseline.

Those aged 18 to 24 are present among this audience to an extent exceeding the baseline by one-and-three-quarters times.

INCOME

Yeezy

While Yeezy shoes are not inexpensive those making under $50 thousand annually are slightly over-indexed here, and are the bracket most present. They make up half of the Yeezy audience.

Those earning $50 thousand a year or more are not too far from being in keeping with the baseline, with six-figure earners the most under-indexed.

Air Jordan

With numbers not too dissimilar to the Yeezy crowd’s earnings, the Air Jordan audience’s incomes are closer to being entirely in keeping with those of the average American social media audience.

INFLUENCERS

Yeezy

This group of influencers is interesting. Travis Scott — over-indexed by 17 times — has a couple of signature shoes through Nike’s Air Force 1 line. Amusingly, the number two influencer with the Yeezy crowd is the man for whom Nike developed Air Jordans to begin with.

If you don’t know him by now, you will never, never, never know him.

During a February afternoon in 2016, at New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden, Kanye staged a sold out combination Yeezy fashion show and listening party for his then soon-to-be-released album ‘The Life of Pablo.’ With the house lights up — throughout the event’s many hour duration — West testified at length between displays of new music and/or apparel.

In the below NSFW clip, Kanye’s fans show Yeezy support with a profane denunciation of Michael Jordan. Kanye does not concur, saying that Jordan is deserving of respect.

Kanye himself finds fans here to a degree exceeding the average U.S. social media audience by six-and-one-third times.

Air Jordan

Mr. Lamar has had a nice working relationship with Nike, having developed some very sought after signature shoes under their Cortez line. He finds fans among the Jordans crowd to a degree exceeding the baseline by five times.

Although Kendrick Lamar has already done two collaborations with Nike in their Cortez line, and announced a third signature pair very recently, he like many cannot resist a classic pair of Jordans as are pictured on his feet above.

While affinity for an influencer is not necessarily synonymous with a fondness for his or her signature shoes, Yeezy’s list being topped by a Nike affiliated rapper is an insight of likely interest. Similarly, high profile Under Armour endorser Dwayne Johnson finds fans here to a degree exceeding average by four times, and Adidas affiliated Pharrell Williams finds fans among this crowd to a degree exceeding the baseline by three-and-three-quarters times

BRANDS

Yeezy

Skate-centric streetwear brand Supreme tops the list. In terms of rap-sneakers, they have released shoes branded with the iconic logo of the legendary Public Enemy. Yeezy enthusiasts display affinity for the NYC brand to a degree 59 ½ times greater than the average.

Footwear retail outlets and brands, streetwear, and video games seem most evident. In 10th place is a more high-end fashion brand. With fans here to an extent exceeding the baseline by four-and-one-tenths times is Kanye’s former collaborator Louis Vuitton.

Air Jordan

What is quite clear from both lists of brand affinities is that sneakers are not merely a passing fancy for either audience. The first seven entries here are either footwear retail chains or brands. Foot Locker finds fans here to a degree 20 ⅕ times greater than the average.

MUSICAL ACTS

Yeezy

Topping the list is A$AP Rocky. The Yeezy crowd is 11 1/10 times more likely to contain his fans than the average U.S. social media audience.

A$AP Rocky signed a deal with Under Armour last fall, which resulted in a signature brand hitting stores last month. In the interim, during this past April, he appeared on ‘The Tonight Show’ wearing a pair of Jordan 1s.

Air Jordan

Below we see rap tycoon, Dr. Dre, whose fans are over-indexed among the Air Jordan audience by over four-and-nine-tenths times, showing off his collection of infinite, brand-new Nike Air Force 1s. Dr. Dre protégé, The Game (or simply, Game), summed up Dre’s relationship to the shoe as such, “A fresh white pair, every day. Brand new. A pair of Air Force 1s to Dr. Dre is socks. When he take ’em off, they’re a wrap.”

SPORTS TEAMS

Yeezy

It is not entirely surprising that the NBA dominates both brands’ lists of top 10 sports teams.

The four-time NBA champ Golden State Warriors’ biggest star, Stephen Curry, is very closely associated with his Under Armour sponsorship. The Warriors’ Nick “Swaggy P” Young — cousin of rap superstar Kendrick Lamar — has hit the court wearing different pairs of coveted Yeezys on occasion.

The Warriors find fans among the Yeezy crowd to a degree exceeding the baseline by four times.

A pair of Yeezy Boost 350 V2s, in Golden State Warriors colors

As mentioned above, Yeezy had planned to make a big splash in the NBA during the 2018–2019 season. The design of the intended shoes, however, has been rejected by the league.

Air Jordan

The team that Michael Jordan led to greatness, the Chicago Bulls, finds fans here to a degree exceeding the average by what’s approaching 11 times.

As said above, the NBA also dominates here. In the case of Jordans, long acknowledged as a gold standard for high performance basketball shoes, the sport’s dominance was expected.

TV SHOWS

Yeezy

An interesting mix. The Donald Glover created, starring, and directed, hip hop oriented, Emmy award winning FX comedy-drama, ‘Atlanta’ tops the list. Fans of the show can be found among those with the strongest affinity for Yeezy to an extent exceeding the baseline by 11 ⅘ times.

Donald Glover, creator and co-star of FX’s critically acclaimed, Emmy award winning comedy-drama ‘Atlanta,’ as well as an arena headlining rapper in his own right, under the name Childish Gambino, is seen here casually kicking it at the airport in a pair of Yeezys.

Air Jordan

Four comic book based shows, two Marvel (both on Netflix) and two DC. All four with fans represented among the Jordans crowd to degrees exceeding the average U.S. social media crowd by four-to-five-and-a-half times.

Three of TV’s longest-running scripted shows — one of which is the longest running, period — all animated, have fans among the Jordans crowd to degrees exceeding the baseline by four-and-three-tenths times to over four-and-four-fifths times.

INTERESTS

Yeezy

The notion that Yeezys have practical applications beyond a prestigious fashion statement is supported when reviewing the interests of the brand’s biggest fans. Sports dominate. Those interested in fashion, however, are present to a degree that is twice that of the average.

Air Jordan

Sports, and related, are evident in this top 10’s first six entries. Video gaming enthusiasts, however, are present here to a degree two-and-a-half times greater than they are among the average U.S. social media audience. Fans of hip hop can be found here to a degree exceeding the average by two times.

STATSOCIAL CLUSTERS

As you’ll find elsewhere on the StatSocial site, we explain StatSocial Clusterswith the words below:

About StatSocial Clusters

Our data scientists have modeled the entire US population into 200 unique clusters. Using billions of inputs for over 120M US consumers, we have segmented naturally occurring population clusters across distinct demographic and household types, personality traits provided by IBM Watson, combined with people’s passions, which we have sourced from their social activities online. For those familiar with traditional clustering models such as PRIZM, Personicx, Mosaic, and Tapestry, we believe this layer of social behaviors, which only StatSocial can offer, provides the richest possible insights into what motivates different types of people. We think you’re going to love the context our cluster analysis will provide.

You can click through here to read our descriptions of all 200 unique segments.

Here are the Clusters most highly indexed among fans of Yeezy and Air Jordan:

From the above linked to page, here are the descriptions for the top five items on each Cluster list. Head over to the link to see the descriptions of the whole lot.

Yeezy

Hip hop oriented Clusters do appear twice, one that is very much in keeping with this brand’s more youthful audience. This crowd also finds itself exceedingly present in basketball oriented clusters.

What’s revealed here, however, that was not so evident in our previous lists is an affinity among Yeezy’s biggest fans for soccer. In general, an unexpected anglophile streak is unearted.

  1. Hooligantastic (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree exceeding the baseline by nearly 15 times)
    This is a lot that lets their true colours (note the spelling) show when it comes to their love for the United Kingdom’s many fine association football — or, as we say here in the states, soccer — teams. Gary Lineker, Wayne Rooney, Arsenal FC, ‘Match of the Day,’ and more of the sort, all find themselves among the most highly esteemed preoccupations of this array of internet users. Open to new experiences most of all, but Agreeable to the least degree, IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® also tells us that they are measurably more Conscientious than they are Neurotic. So much for our assumptions about the average U.K. footie fan.
  2. Gen Y Hip Hop (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree exceeding the baseline by about 14 3/10 times)
    This group is in their early-to-mid-20s, suburban based, and 63% male. They are up on the latest in contemporary hip hop. Chance the Rapper, Kid Cudi, Wiz Khalifa, Kendrick, and even give a nod to still relevant old timers such as Kanye. They’ve got an ear to the underground, and the beats, flows, and mixtapes coming from names the average fans might not yet know, such as Dorris Unstoppable. While open to new sounds within their milieu, IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® says in general they’re not much Open to new things. They are more outgoing (or Extraverted) than the average group, however.
  3. London Calling (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree that approaches exceeding the baseline by five-and-one-fifth times)
    This 76% female group of deeply rural folks are in their late-20s-to-early-30s. British pop culture seems to be their bag. Not so much costume dramas, or regional detective series, but those Brit celebrities who dominate the panel, chat, and quiz shows that are the default staples of their broadcasting. IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® tells us this lot is Open to new experiences least of all. They’ve found their love for Brit chat and panel shows — and the comics and general celebs who appear most on them — and they’re going to stick with that. The Extraverted (the psych term for outgoing) can be found among this lot to a degree just a smidgen in excess of the average.
  4. Basketball Jones (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree exceeding the baseline by five times)
    Suburbanites here, 79% dudes. in their late-20s-to-early-30s. This assortment of gentlemen are easily characterized. Their shared interest is the great American sport of basketball. Particularly, it must be noted, when played at the highest level by the most prominent professionals in our country’s fine National Basketball Association. We know, thanks to IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® that their ranks accommodate the Agreeable and Conscientious to degrees below the average, but they’re a touch more Neurotic. Generally, though, it’s a mix as folks of all personality types enjoy a good game of roundball.
  5. La Liga Believas (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree exceeding the baseline by four-and-two-thirds-times)
    Spain’s most competitive pro football league, Primera División, or what’s simply known as La Liga, has a profound international profile. This, especially for playing in such a comparably small country. When you can attract the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi to your league — players so famous that even Americans who couldn’t care less know who they are — people will pay attention. When their season is underway, they can dominate American Twitter trends. Those driving those trends are probably in this cluster. IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® observes that the Agreeable and outgoing are only to be found here in paltry quantities. The Conscientious, however, are abundant.

Air Jordan

While affinity for Spain’s globally celebrated soccer league is prominent, as is a fondness for U.K. footie, it’s other otherwise a mix of American sports and hip hop oriented Clusters to which this audience’s members most prominently belong.

The most over-indexed, and rather significantly so, is as you might expect a basketball oriented Cluster.

  1. Basketball Jones (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree exceeding the baseline to a degree of nearly eight-and-one-quarter)
    Suburbanites here, 79% dudes. in their late-20s-to-early-30s. This assortment of gentlemen are easily characterized. Their shared interest is the great American sport of basketball. Particularly, it must be noted, when played at the highest level by the most prominent professionals in our country’s fine National Basketball Association. We know, thanks to IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® that their ranks accommodate the Agreeable and Conscientious to degrees below the average, but they’re a touch more Neurotic. Generally, though, it’s a mix as folks of all personality types enjoy a good game of roundball.
  2. La Liga Believas (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree exceeding the baseline by eight-and-four-fifths-times)
    Spain’s most competitive pro football league, Primera División, or what’s simply known as La Liga, has a profound international profile. This, especially for playing in such a comparably small country. When you can attract the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi to your league — players so famous that even Americans who couldn’t care less know who they are — people will pay attention. When their season is underway, they can dominate American Twitter trends. Those driving those trends are probably in this cluster. IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® observes that the Agreeable and outgoing are only to be found here in paltry quantities. The Conscientious, however, are abundant.
  3. Hooligantastic (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to to a degree exceeding the baseline by a bit over seven-and-a-quarter times)
    This is a lot that lets their true colours (note the spelling) show when it comes to their love for the United Kingdom’s many fine association football — or, as we say here in the states, soccer — teams. Gary Lineker, Wayne Rooney, Arsenal FC, ‘Match of the Day,’ and more of the sort, all find themselves among the most highly esteemed preoccupations of this array of internet users. Open to new experiences most of all, but Agreeable to the least degree, IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® also tells us that they are measurably more Conscientious than they are Neurotic. So much for our assumptions about the average U.K. footie fan.
  4. Backwoods Basketball (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to to a degree in excess of the baseline by five-and-seven-tenths times)
    Outside of the cities and even the suburbs, a group of mostly men in their 20s and 30s are pointing their satellite dishes toward where they’re beaming down broadcasts of the NBA. These rural basketball fans also enjoy America’s currently most prominent practitioner of prizefighting, Floyd Mayweather. Also, it seems, the stadium-strong comedy of Kevin Hart makes them laugh. They keep up with the finer points and analyses of basketball, and sports in general, on the TV, via ESPN, and online via Bleacher Report. IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® reveals they are least of all Conscientious, but they are most of all Neurotic.
  5. Hip Hop: For the Children (those belonging to this Cluster occur here to a degree exceeding the baseline by five times)
    This group consists of 72% men, in their mid-30s-to-40s, and living in the city. They’re shared affinities revolve mostly around ’90s and ’00s Hip Hop. More contemporary names do rate as worthy of their attention. But, for example, many members of Shaolin’s finest (that’s The Wu-Tang Clan) rank among their greatest shared loves. Also such basic essentials to the Hip Hop fan with his or her ear to the ground, such as ‘XXL Magazine,’ and online mixtape repository/free-for-all, DatPiff.com are common ground for this squad. IBM Watson’s Personality Insights® tells us this team is Open above all other things, and Agreeable to a relatively statistically minor degree.

PERSONALITIES (courtesy of IBM Watson™ Personality Insights)

Among the vast many audience insights uncovered in every StatSocial report is an analysis of the personality types most prevalent in the audience being analyzed. These useful and unique insights are made possible via our proud partnership with IBM Watson™ and our integration of their Personality Insights tool into our reporting.

Personality Insights, in the case of its application to StatSocial, processes all the public online writings — on social media, blogs, message boards, comments threads, and so forth — of those comprising the audience being analyzed. Using sophisticated linguistic analytics, Personality Insights infers the characteristics of each audience member. Starting with the widely applied Big Five taxonomy of personality traits and psyche. From there Watson™ analyzes further, uncovering needs, values, and more.

Visit the IBM Watson™ Personality Insights website for more in depth explanations.

Yeezy

With each of the below lists, we only included as many personality traits as were over-indexed for each brand. So neither is a top 10. This of course speaks to a true diversity of personality spanning the audiences of both Yeezy and Air Jordan.

Of course in every StatSocial report, all personality traits — and the degrees to which they can be found among an audience — are available. For our purposes here, however, we’ll just stick with those exceeding the baseline.

The first three traits fall under the Big Five personality of Neuroticism, and include self-consciousness and anxiety.

Air Jordan

A more diverse array of traits can be found among the Air Jordans crowd, with Imagination the most prominent. The imaginative can be found among the Jordans audience to a degree exceeding the baseline by just about one-and-one-fifth times.

WEBSITES

Yeezy

Sneaker fans are not kidding around, and Sneaker Con is the website for the events of the same name. They take place in various cities throughout the year, and like car shows, boat shows, comic cons, or any sort of expo, those in the sneaker industry and those most passionate about their wares gather. There are booths, where prototypes of upcoming kicks are shown, there are panels on such topics as how to spot a counterfeit, and so forth.

The Sneaker Con website is visited by Yeezy’s audience to a degree exceeding the baseline by over a whopping 82 times.

Hypebeast started as a sneaker blog. While the scope of topics explored has expanded, that’s still it’s strongest association. It’s fans are present here to a degree in excess of the baseline by over 70 times. Highsnobiety? Again, a lifestyle blog focused on streetwear, and specifically sneakers. Its visitors are dwelling among the Yeezy crowd to a degree exceeding the average by 68 ⅖ times.

Air Jordan

Sole Collector, as you might suspect, is a sneaker blog. It’s visitors are among the Air Jordan faithful to a degree 28 times beyond the average. Then we have sites related to sports, particularly basketball, and hip hop sites as well.

Conclusion: It seems that while the audiences are similar, and there is definitely a strong crossover in interests between the brands, the fact that the Yeezy brand is younger most strongly drives where the two brands’ audiences diverge. This is not a perfect story, however.

In the TV shows, to some degree in the musical acts and influencers, and certainly in the Clusters to which members of these audiences belong, the relative youthfulness of the Yeezy crowd seems to have made an impact.

These lists show marketers how fierce this competition really is, though. The fact is, Michael Jordan ranks higher on Yeezy’s list of influencers than Kanye does. Jordan is not even on the list of top influencers with the biggest fans of the sneakers which for 34 years have carried his name. As we say, the “Yeezy audience is younger” angle is not perfect.

It’s StatSocial’s mission to provide all the analysis you’ll need to tell your story to the people you’re trying to reach. With each list of insights you are only seeing the very tippy top of what’s available.

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