Customers who just want to get a new pair of cool sneakers wonder why on earth they have to jump through so many hoops just to buy them. It’s a fair question. Why do stores hold raffles to purchase new shoes? What exactly is a sneaker raffle anyway?
What It Is
A sneaker raffle is an ingenious marketing ploy. Many shoe manufacturers only produce a small number of a particular new shoe. They announce that there will only be a limited run so that there will be more demand. When demand is greater than supply, the manufacturer is sure to sell out of the product, and profits soar.
Sneakerheads know that there will be this incredible demand. Many people will try almost anything to get the shoes they want. That’s why sneaker raffles were invented.
To avoid many disappointed buyers, shoe companies had to find a way to encourage this artificially lowered supply without having backlash from a lot of disillusioned potential customers. If people thought that only a person with insider information could get shoes, buyers would quickly become disenchanted and quit trying to buy.
At its most basic level, a sneaker raffle is a way to give more people a fair chance at buying the newest sneakers. This keeps customers interested because they actually have a real chance at buying the shoes.
Raffles have been around forever. Traditionally they were used to raise money for churches and other charities. A person would buy a raffle ticket, and all the tickets would be mixed together in a container. One person’s ticket is pulled out, and that person wins a prize.
If the raffle organizer can get lots of people to buy tickets, then they raise money for their charity, and the lucky winner gets a prize. The prize is worth more than a single raffle ticket.
However, a sneaker raffle works in a different way. The person doesn’t buy the raffle ticket. All they have to do is ask for it. If they want to buy the shoe at a retail store, they just go to the store and ask for a ticket according to the policies of the particular store.
In an Early Entry Raffle, the customer can go in and request a ticket Tuesday through Thursday. The customer gives the store their personal information so that the store can call them. Then on Friday, the drawing is held, and the store calls the customer to tell them if they have won.
End result? Whoever wins the raffle is given the opportunity to buy the sneakers at the retail price. The customer isn’t getting a physical prize; their reward is that now they are allowed to buy a pair of shoes that other people cannot buy.
More Kinds of Raffles
It seems like there are as many kinds of raffles as there are stores.
In an Early Day Raffle, the ticket distribution and the drawing are both held on the same day, on a day before the release date. In a Day-of Raffle, people are instructed to come into the store at 11:30 am to fill out their entry, and then the drawing is done at noon.
Then there are hybrid kinds of raffles. There are reservation raffles where the customer comes into the store ahead of time and makes a reservation. But then, when the shoe is released, that customer gets to buy before other people.
The sneaker raffle or lottery is for shoes that will be released directly from the store. But sometimes, the raffle is for the chance to be the first person to buy the shoes through a store’s website or through the store’s app.
In this case, the person who wins the raffle gets an early notification and is allowed to log-on and make the purchase before the app or the website is opened to other customers.
Why Stores Do It
Why do stores and shoe manufacturers hold raffles? It’s simple: human nature. Humans are hard-wired to be competitive. When they win something, it makes them feel good, especially when it’s really hard to win. People want what they can’t have.
In some ways, stores have almost been forced into having raffles. The high demand that happens when a new sneaker is launched has caused stores to come up with innovative ways to combat some of the problems that have been coming up whenever there is a new sneaker launch.
One reason stores hold raffles is because holding a raffle is less dangerous than having people line up for the shoes outside the store.
In the past, some shoes were only being released through retail outlets, and there were no online sales. Sneaker lovers lined up outside stores for days, even camping out in the cold. Violence in the lines was rampant.
It’s not just in the US. People all over the world lined up for days outside of stores, and bad behavior soon erupted. People getting pushed and shoved was common. One young man was even shot in the foot for line jumping.
The problems in the lines caused some states to call in armed guards to keep order. People punched each other, and fistfights broke out. There can be many injuries in lines waiting for new sneaker launches.
Using the raffle system at physical stores became a critical way to keep lines from becoming unruly. A line can’t get crazy if there is no line. Over the years, more and more physical stores have stopped selling new launches in the store. Many new launches can only be bought online.
Controlling who gets to buy the shoes can be hard on customer loyalty when customers feel like they never have a fair chance to buy the pair they want.
Keeping customers happy is essential, so stores decided that holding raffles would be the most fair way to determine who gets the shoes. That way, customers can feel as if they have as much of a chance as the next guy.