Projected top 2017 NBA Draft pick Lonzo Ball and his brash father LaVar stunned the sports world last week by revealing their own independently made signature shoe, the ZO2, which will be sold at a staggering $495.
During an appearance on "Undisputed", LaVar Ball argued that the shoes are so expensive because that's what they're worth, and that Michael Jordan couldn't get away with selling similarly expensive shoes because he's "not Lonzo."
The bold business strategy drew differing reactions from athletes and fans, but according to Colin Cowherd, an argument can be made that these shoes really are worth the asking price.
There's a precedent for overpricing an unproven product in business
“Grey Goose vodka was created. A man named Sidney Frank launched the brand of Grey Goose vodka.
"Now vodka is virtually tasteless. They have infused vodka now with orange and lime, but vodka is largely distilled to take the taste out of it.
"When Sidney Frank created Grey Goose, their marketing plan was ‘let’s sell it with a frosted bottle and have double the price point of other vodkas.’ It was not winning awards as the best tasting vodka. It had no history as a great vodka. Nobody really knew who Sidney Frank was, and instead of $19 for a fifth of vodka, it was $34, almost double the average price. And that is the story of Grey Goose.
"It had no history, like Lonzo Ball’s shoes, but the marketing plan was ‘if it costs twice as much, like my BMW, it must be better. It must be.’”
Justin FordJustin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
As consumers, we never want to buy the cheapest options anyway
“So this idea that a cheap shoe is a better shoe… let’s be honest. When I go and buy shoes for myself, jogging shoes, I never buy the cheapest shoe.
"Psychologically, the reason I never buy the cheapest shoe is because I think it’s the cheapest shoe. Cheapest made, cheapest quality, cheapest fabrics, cheapest ‘whatever it takes to build a tennis shoe.’
"Who wants the cheapest anything? Honestly.
"I understand there’s a market for like… Motel 6. I get the market, I totally do, and there’s no reason to spend $900 a night for a hotel room. I get that. But what I am saying is, we have a history here. There is a psychology behind it.”
Even if Lonzo Ball is a bust, people will want these shoes eventually
“I’ll also say this: Could I make the argument that if Lonzo Ball is great, it’s worth it, and if he stinks and is a bust, it’s worth it?
"There is value in having a collector’s item. Ryan Leaf’s jersey on eBay right now? Sells for $224. Ryan Leaf’s jersey, because Ryan Leaf was seen as a bust at quarterback. There are really good quarterbacks in the NFL right now, you can get their jersey for $175… there is a fascination with ‘bad.’ So even if Lonzo Ball busted, you’d have a collector’s item: the most expensive shoe ever from a first-round bust. There’s value in that.
"There is value and precedent and history on overpricing something to create allure. And secondly, even if Lonzo Ball doesn’t make it, I can make the argument that ‘terrible’ is a market. ‘Bust’ is also a market for collectors."