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Creating Want – How Nike, Michael Jordan and Mars Blackmon Did It

creating want nike jordan and mars blackmonCreating Want

I recently read a statement online that said the job of marketing is to create needs and sell to them.  Although this may have been true 20 years ago it is vastly inaccurate today.  Why?

There are no needs for marketing to meet anymore

Marketers have already filled every human need possible.  No one, especially in America, needs anything any more.  Does a company truly need a new website?  Does someone really need a new home?  Does anyone really need another book?  Did you really need that cup of Starbucks? Do I need a Brita water filter…really? What about a new car? No, no, no!

Because people truly don’t need anything any more and given that there are far to many alternatives for something that you can even make a case for needing the only thing left for marketing is to sell to….wants.  But even that’s not enough to dominate a market segment.

So what’s a marketer to do?

To be successful marketers must go beyond simply identifying and selling to wants to creating want.

Mars Blackmon & Michael Jordan made you want the shoes

No one ever has, nor ever will need a pair of Air Jordan’s.  Even if you argue your sneaks are torn to shreds you could make another choice and buy a pair of Converse or Addidas, etc.

In 1987 Nike marketing took a vastly different approach than other sports shoe manufactures.  They created a series of sneaker commercials focused on creating want for not just any basketball shoe, but the Air Jordan.  Watch and learn:


In today’s era

“Marketing’s job is creating want”

Ways to anticipate and then create want

Use social media to listen to what consumers are saying about your product, brand, industry, and competition.  This involves not just having a social media page like Facebook but actively monitoring mentions about a variety of topics related to your product, service, or industry.

Use web analytics to monitor how consumers are interacting with your website, what devices they access your site from, and from where on the planet (perhaps there’s a growing want for your product in another world market).

Use content marketing (read blogs) to discover who is already exerting influence on your audience and partner with them to create a trend.  If Nike had sold Air Jordan’s to the every basketball player in the entire basketball playing universe they would not have sold many shoes.  Instead Nike found Mars Blackmon (Spike Lee) who already had a major and credible voice in urban communities. When he said “Money..It has to be the shoes” kids believed him and that created a trend of wearing the shoes off court with slacks, jeans, suits, and tuxedos.

Update: 11/21/14

Here’s a great video I recently discovered of Pharrell Williams interview Spike

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