Yesterday, Reebok offered up replicas of the Alien Stomper sneakers that Ripley wore in the movie Alien. About ten minutes after the sale started, the Internet erupted in outrage as it discovered only 426 pairs were being offered for the entire world (and were only offered in Men’s sizes). This is exactly what Reebok wants.
I understand the frustration, everyone wants to get their hands on these shoes – especially cosplayers who seemed to be the most irate over the shorting of sneakers. But this is not the first time a company has done something like this. Last summer at the San Diego Comic Con, Pepsi launched Pepsi Perfect for fans, and quickly everyone discovered only 6,500 bottles were available for purchase, making it impossible for someone to grab a six pack – three to drink, and three to display, of course.
Back to the Future fans have experienced the same thing. Remember the debacle that was the Nike Self Lacing Shoes? Originally released to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation, 1,500 pairs of the Nike Air Mags hit eBay over the course of ten days, with some of the shoes going for $10,000 or more. While those shoes were marked as props and not for everyday use, fans were still outraged that the shoes they had been waiting for their entire life had been priced out of reach.
Of course this means the secondary market sales for these products skyrocketed instantly. Original Nike Air Mags are selling on eBay in the rage of $11,000-$14,000 a pair, and Pepsi Perfect is going for $69.00 a bottle. Already two pair of the Alien Stompers have hit the online auction site with asking prices of $1,525 and $1,999. That’s an incredible amount to pay for something that could easily be mass manufactured and sold for $150 a pair.
Perhaps this is just what Reebok, Nike, and Pepsi want.
When the public causes a furor over these bits of ephemera, it tells the manufacturer that there is a demand. And the bigger the demand, the more likely you’ll be able to get your hands on these after a few months. For a while, you could get in a virtual line for a pair of the Nike Air Mags that would be sold in batches of several hundred at a time. That ran for about a year after the initial run, and now there is word that self-lacing versions of the shoes will be available later in 2016 (and in much larger quantities). eBay sales of the Amazon/Wal-Mart version of the Pepsi Perfect bottles are all over the pace, including one person who is selling a full pallet of the stuff, if your pancreas can handle all that sugar water.
Honestly, I think Reebok is doing the exact same thing with the Alien Stompers. While they may not have sold thousands of the shoes on Alien Day, my guess is a new wave of the shoes will arrive this summer at the San Diego Comic Con, where fans will rush the booth, causing the product to sell out within minutes, and thus start another round online demands for more. Then, later in the year, Reebok will release thousands more via online stores, just in time for the holidays.
It’s a great tactic; create demand through the illusion of short supply and rarity. Each time a new batch is released, fans will snatch these up with dreams of owning a super rare pair of shoes, or reselling them online for tens of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, Reebok, Nike, and Pepsi, are patting themselves on the back over the fact that they are making even more money on an idea and licensing deal from thirty plus years ago.
So, if you didn’t get your pair of Alien Stompers yesterday, get angry, shout and complain online, write your angry letters to Reebok. It’s exactly what they want you to do.