Limited edition and hyped-up products are becoming popular with retailers as limited stock creates a high demand.
It seems a lot more common now for companies to bring out ‘limited edition’ items to keep their loyal customers interested, and also to draw in more customers to their brand. Quite often this strategy is designed to promote a new product, or give older lines a bit of a boost. They could be flagging in sales, or it could be that the company needs something that will reintroduce it into the market in a new way.
Limited edition items aren’t anything new, but the build of ‘the hype’ surrounding the products is. Consumers lap up anything hyped or limited as it feels more special than other accessible products. Consumers of high-end street wear such as Supreme, Anti Social Social Club, Kith, Bape and Noah sell only a handful of products in what is called a ‘drop’. The hype up towards the release gives consumers time to plan their spending and the best ways to get their hands on these ‘special’ items.
The huge demand for these labels, particularly streetwear, has inspired its own niche of tech-savvy entrepreneurs who make a living off being able to get their hands on limited edition items. Bots are created to log in and shop online within seconds, automatically filling in credit card details of people who have paid $100 upfront just to get their hands on a pair of $200 sneakers.
For shopping efficiency, these bots easily surpass the individuals trying to browse items and enter their details one keystroke at a time. By the time human beings have finished the checkout process, the most in-demand items in their carts have usually sold out – thanks to bots.
One label whose business model relies on hype build up and limited stock is street wear label Supreme. Founded in 1994, it intentionally releases every product in limited quantities to ensure sell-outs, so people have to work to get it—and once gone, almost no product is ever available from the store again.
Supreme made the decision to release drops online only, after a manic first release of a collaboration with Nike on a basketball sneaker called the Foamposite ended up with a swam of 3,000 desperate shoppers and police intervention.
The hype might be overwhelming these days, but the kids lining up on drop day, posting #fitpics and flipping their items on the resell market are the future of streetwear. StockX is a streetwear re-sell market that shows the inflation price of the item.
When Supreme collaborated with Louis Vuitton, both streetwear fanatics and younger buyers of Louis Vuitton were quick to snatch up the insanely expensive items. The re-sell prices for this drop on StockX have an average inflation price of 300 percent.
The appeal of ‘limited edition’ may allow customers to justify large quantities on items such as a Supreme branded brick (US$1000) or card holder (US$1350) as exclusive items may appreciate in value and give them a return on their investment in the future.
Hyped items become a status symbol for the elite. To get your hands on ‘limited edition’ items the user requires back round knowledge of sales, bots and key words to look for that may signal the drop.
Trends might come and go quicker than ever these days, but streetwear’s progression means things are never boring. The build of hype surrounding these drops on the surface seem unfair on the average shopper but all these labels have done is take an elusive model like anything limited edition and inject it with steroids. The hype is a product of consumers’ own making. Like the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it spend US$220 on a branded airhorn.