Future NBA Hall of Famer Dwyane Tyrone Wade had called Miami home for 13 amazing years filled with numerous highlights and a long list of individual accomplishments. More importantly, Wade was able to win 3 NBA Championships with the Miami Heat and is considered by most, the best professional athlete Miami has ever had (Sorry Dan Marino!).
Wade is now back home. A Chicago native, Wade signed with the Chicago Bulls in the off-season and starts a new journey with his hometown team. While not one of the top competitors in the U.S. sneaker market, Way of Wade is comfortable in their own lane and also is performing well in China where the brand originated from (Li-Ning). Chicago is definitely a bigger market than Miami, however Chicago also has the GOAT Michael Jordan, the player Dwyane Wade himself and many other Chicagoans looked up to growing up in the 80’s and 90’s.
The Way of Wade brand has a cult following for sure (count me as one of the followers). Some appreciated the early models for their premium raw materials and top notch craftsmanship, while some just really liked Wade as a player and decided to give the brand a try. For me personally, it was a little bit of both. Wade became my favorite player after Jordan retired, and I was pretty hesitant to give Li-Ning and Way of Wade a try but did so because of my admiration for Wade as a person and player. It didn’t hurt that the first couple of Way of Wades came with premium materials, craftsmanship, and packaging to boot. The key for the brand now is to bring in new fans and followers, especially in Chicago. How are they going to do that you ask?
On Shelves-Much like the Edition Boutique in Florida, I believe Chicago needs a retail location or two to carry Way of Wade product. With Wade playing for Bulls, it will definitely have the people of Chicago at the very least curious about what Wade has on feet during the games. Having them in stores can in my opinion heavily sway a person from being curious to being a believer by being able to try them on. *UPDATE, Way of Wade is indeed placing WoW products on shelves at select DTLR locations in Chicago. Great news!*
Heavy Promotion-Make them available for free at events and camps, especially for the youngsters. Wade and WoW have already started to do this, most recently with the “Coming Home” event Wade and WoW held recently in Chicago. It was a camp/event that gave youngsters a chance to not only get free WoW gear and sneakers, but a chance to hangout with Wade himself. This was a great idea by Wade and WoW, hopefully they continue to do events/camps like this in the future and promote Wade and the brand.
Competitive Pricing-. I think WoW took a small step backwards with the WoW 4 and the $180 price tag they came with. They’re taking a step in the right direction in my opinion with the 5, dropping it down to $160. With Jordan Brand having so many loyal fans in the city of Chicago, I think it would be wise for WoW to maybe even drop the price a little more with the next few WoWs to give the fans, especially the kids, options other than the top sneaker brands who generally charge a premium price for a signature shoe. If WoW really believes in staying in their own lane, pricing it to reflect that business motto will only help separate themselves from companies like Jordan Brand, Nike, and adidas.
Play Well & Win- If MJ wasn’t dominating and winning championships, I have a hard time believing Jordan Brand would be the brand it is today. Wade might be in the twilight of his career, but based off the first couple of games, Wade still has a lot left in the tank, even adding the 3 point shot to his arsenal, which has been on heavy display so far this season. There are some good core pieces right now with Wade, Jimmy Butler, and Rajon Rondo. If they can make some noise this year and give Bulls fans something to cheer about, it will without a doubt create more interest in WoWs among the Bulls fan base.
Tech Upgrade- I highly believe WoW made the correct choice by choosing a lightweight mesh upper shoe over a heavier premium leather shoe starting with the 4. It will definitely help Wade on court, and it will help keep the costs down for WoW so they can price their product more competitively going forward. The WoW 2 and 3 were not the best options on court (I tried), and if a basketball shoe cannot be worn on court, you’ve lost a lot of possibly interested people just based off that fact. The 4 and 5 are much more playable on court, but the one place I think they need to really consider upgrading is the cushion. I would be more than happy to ball in a WoW but find the cushioning to be a little outdated. With adidas Boost and Nike/Jordan Brand Zoom Air being the top choice for many recreational hoopers, I think the WoW line needs to incorporate similar technology for their consumers and even Wade himself. Being a top performer for hoopers will only convince more people, more importantly people who only care about performance, to give the brand a go and hopefully never look back.
I think Wade and WoW have a tremendous opportunity to build some serious momentum in the U.S., and more specifically in Chicago. Hopefully they have an aggressive business approach, I for one am very curious what Wade and WoW are going to do and how they are going to do it during Wade’s time in Chicago. I guess we will all just have to wait and see.
Images via Way of Wade
Game Winner Image via Fox Sports
WoW 4 Tech Spec Image via Weartesters