Supreme is one of the most popular and well-known clothing brands in the world. What makes them so successful?
Find out what is behind Supreme’s branding, marketing approach, and scarcity tactics. That allowed the company to drive demand for its products, and create one of the most desirable clothing brands in the world.
Supreme's marketing approach
The first thing that comes to mind when you hear about Supreme is its marketing approach. The company utilizes a scarcity marketing approach, by only releasing limited-edition products.
This causes customers to line up outside of stores hours before they open to get those items while it lasts.
This makes people feel like if they don't buy something now then they won't have another chance later on. Because there’s no guarantee that the item will ever be available again once sold out.
Scarcity is one of the main reasons for Supreme's marketing success. However, there are a few other marketing approaches that Supreme used to become a world-renowned brand.
Supreme has been able to build a successful brand by using word-of-mouth marketing. They have focused on creating a desirable product that people want to talk about. This has been done by creating a limited quantity of products and releasing new collections seasonally.
The company also uses social media to spread the word about its brand. They post photos of models wearing Supreme clothing on Instagram, and they share videos of people doing things that are interesting and trendy while wearing Supreme clothing.
One of the things that make Supreme so successful is its use of branding and marketing tactics, which include word-of-mouth marketing. This form of marketing is also free and can spread like wildfire throughout social circles. Hearing recommendations from people within your personal life also gives an additional boost in brand credibility.
Word-of-mouth is a form of social proof. Customers can decide and make buying decisions easier when they see others wearing the brand or hear people like them talking about it. It reassures people that the high price and long wait times are worth it because if others are interested in the brand, then they must be doing something right.
Another form of social proof is the celebrity endorsement - which Supreme has also used to great effect, with collaborations with celebrities like Nas, and Mike Tyson.
A unique marketing approach Supreme used was to not just have celebrities wearing the brand logo but to have a picture of the celebrities wearing the brand logo printed on apparel.
This allowed fans of the celebrities to showcase their passion for them and at the same time show that they are a part of the same community as those influential people.
The combination of word-of-mouth marketing with social proof has helped Supreme to become a household name with a passionate community supporting the brand.
Being a part of supreme's community drives value
Most humans are social creatures that crave to be a part of some sort of community. The supreme brand facilitates this by creating a community of like-minded people with interests in fashion, streetwear, and current trends.
The more involved you are in the supreme community, the more value you will obtain from being a supreme fan. This can be seen through the people who camp out in line for hours, even days, to get their hands on the latest supreme product.
Waiting in line with others that share a mutual interest can create new friendships. Even as an online community, Supreme supporters can connect and trade, buy, or sell their beloved branded items.
This sense of community is what Supreme has tapped into, and it's what drives demand for their products.
Supreme scarcity marketing
The company has gained a reputation for having the best quality clothing available and has created this image with rare items. Humans naturally perceive items as more valuable if they are rare and hard to find.
This drives demand for their clothing, and people are more likely to want to buy Supreme products because they know that they are going to sell out quickly.
Supreme uses scarcity in their marketing strategy because it drives demand for their products and makes them more desirable.
This is why people are willing to pay higher prices and wait longer than other brands of similar quality.
How secondary markets build brand value
Supreme is a brand that has been able to create immense value for itself through its focus on exclusivity and scarcity. The company's products are sought after due to their limited nature, and this has helped the brand build a cult status in the fashion world.
This has led to savvy hustlers that understand supply and demand to resell these items for much more than the original retail price. The large secondary market for the brand’s products also reinforces how desirable they are.
Customers or entrepreneurs?
These secondary markets helped Supreme build its brand value. Because the resellers have an incentive to build hype and share how valuable Supreme clothing is.
In a way, they become sales agents, and promoters for the brand without a salary, essentially selling Supreme without the brand having to hire or ask them to.
The resellers can obtain these items by being a part of the community and camping out in line to get their hands on them first. Clever resellers will sometimes hire people to wait in line for them so they can secure their product/inventory of Supreme merchandise.
The resellers then sell these items at a significant markup on sites like eBay or StockX. The secondary market and the brand itself both benefit from this business model.
Supreme is creating a unique investment opportunity
When you mention long-term investments, streetwear merchandise rarely comes to mind. Typically people only see assets such as stocks, real estate, bonds, as assets to hold for the long run.
Unlike the Supreme resellers, these participants in the brand prefer to hold these items for the long term (10+ years), predicting they will go up in value.
Only time will tell if this investment will pay off, but if Supreme keeps its brand image strong, we may see these items reemerge on the markets in the later decades, at much higher prices.
In the future, the Supreme brand will also have opportunities to deploy a 'nostalgic marketing tactic'. Much like the resellers, the long-term investors will play a natural role in this. As the younger demographic of this brand's supporters grow older, they may long for the youth of their past. By purchasing these items as a way to connect with their younger selves.
Marketing to collectors
The Supreme brand has shattered the belief of only investing in traditional assets, at least for those that are interested in culture more than finance. Similar to the art world, Supreme has gained a dedicated community of collectors.
In addition to the regular customers of the brand, collectors are now an incredibly important audience. Supreme has learned a great deal from the art world, utilizing scarcity and exclusive drops to generate demand.
Collectors help preserve the longevity of not just the items, but the value of the items themselves. The collector's high-valued perception helps keep the floor price high to match. The floor price means the lowest price you can buy an item on the secondary markets.
Supreme has created a culture
As you can now see, the Supreme brand has successfully created a culture involving many participants. No matter what a supporter identifies themselves as when associating with the brand, they inevitably become a part of the ecosystem of the 'HypeBeast' Supreme economy.
Supreme's 'HypeBeast' supporters
A clear indication of a strong brand is when there is slang or new words integrated into their modern language. There are many different definitions of a 'HypeBeast' but they are usually a way of describing someone who will sacrifice a lot to gain a popular brand's scarce item.
Many personal brands utilize this tactic. Here are some examples below:
- Taylor Swift's (Swifties)
- Justin Bieber (Beliebers)
- Beyonce (Bee Hive)
- Bangtan Boys (BTS Army)
- Supreme (HypeBeasts)
Supreme is more than just a clothing brand
To many of Supreme's customers, the brand is more than just a trendy style. It's their lifestyle. The product developers at Supreme took a risk that ended up paying off with their strange, but attention-receiving approach.
Rather than just selling clothing, they decided to release scarce items of seemingly random objects. Some of these Supreme branded items and their resale value includes:
- A Brick ($1000)
- A Dog Bowl ($650)
- A Crowbar ($265)
- A Toolbox ($600)
Unsolved mysteries are one of the best marketing strategies. As humans, we naturally crave the answers to unsolved questions. Random objects with little to no context did just that while selling out and proving that their marketing tactics are one of the best in branding history.
Notice how we don't use plurals to describe these items. This shows the importance of scarcity in the perception of value. There may be millions of these random items, but there is only a scarce amount of Supreme branded items.
The branding effects of counterfeits
Counterfeits can cause a loss in revenue as the secondary market begins to be flooded with fake Supreme items. The simplistic logo and merchandise make it a prime target for intellectual property theft.
However, even when customers know they can buy fake Supreme items for much cheaper and their peers wouldn't be able to tell the difference they often choose to buy the real deal. This is because they know that they can trick others but they can't themselves.
Counterfeits have little effect on them as owning a Supreme product is not just a status signal to show others they are important, but to show themselves their own importance.
These fake Supreme items have a marketing effect in themselves. If something wasn't valuable, why would someone risk a potential lawsuit to reproduce it?
This confirms a 'HypeBeast' Supreme fan of their belief in the value of the brand. Even with counterfeits on the market, Supreme has proven its brand's recognition. The brand has grown so strong that customers want to be a part of this culture, while their competitors wish to create what only the real Supreme can.
Supreme brand recognition
One of the reasons Supreme is so successful is because they have built up a very strong brand. Brand recognition is key in any industry, and it's especially important in the fashion world.
When people see the Supreme logo, they know what it is, and they know that it's a desirable product. This is due to the company's marketing efforts, which have been very successful in building up Supreme as a top-tier fashion brand.
Supreme remains supreme
There's no doubt that the Supreme brand has become iconic among streetwear advocates. Its simplistic, yet attention-gaining designs have created a cult following of passionate supporters.
Like a country with patriotic civilians, the Supreme brand has created a community of like-minded people that proudly support the red and white logo. The hype beasts have evolved from an underground community into a diverse network economy.
Even if you aren't a streetwear fan, it would be rare if you didn't hear about the brand as the word of mouth spread to the trendiest customers. They dominated the market while showing that wearing the brand is needed if you want to be socially accepted.
Your worth as a person does not relate to material wealth as many philosophers might express. However, there is no denying that through scarcity and other brilliant marketing strategies Supreme has reigned as one of the greatest brands to have ever been established.
Featured image source: Unsplash