How did ‘taking an L’ become more common than tying your laces? Brand loyalty of sneakerheads and the rise of purchasing bots

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The aim of this thesis is to investigate the scarcity effect, created by the activity of bots, on the brand loyalty relationship between sneakerheads and Nike. This study adopts a consumer culture approach to research the complex context of the sneaker industry. To answer the research question How does the scarcity effect of purchasing bots affect the brand loyalty of sneakerheads? a process model is developed, where the process of buying sneakers and the corresponding elements of scarcity and brand loyalty are shown. This model was developed based on data from 14 in-depth interviews and netnographic research. The results show that within the sneakerhead context, in contrast to prior work, consumers do not always have a positive attitude towards a brand, while simultaneously repeat purchasing from the same brand. Nike’s lack of response with regard to the activity of bots frustrates sneakerheads but does not necessarily restrain them from trying to buy the newest Nike shoes. This thesis contributes to understanding the complexity of the brand loyalty relationship of sneakerheads, in an environment of scarcity caused by purchasing machines. Furthermore, it gives Nike managerial suggestions regarding how they could address the purchasing bot issue in the sneaker industry in order to improve brand loyalty among sneakerheads. Finally, this study indicates suggestions for further research on the effect of scarcity on consumers.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen