When marketer's exercise their genius and create a new category develops, they don't send out a memo. Then again, they don't have to.
They get the message anyway. Then they follow the leader into the new category.
While such a strategy is an excellent path to short-term profits, it's troublesome for the brand or organization in the long-run. The category creator has free reign in claiming the best position in the consumer's mind. They create a brand that's a benchmark to which all others will be compared against.
Unfortunately, lots of marketers cannot help themselves. Marketers jump into new categories with also-ran brands, settling for positions that fall short of category leadership and sometimes at the expense of their leading brands.
Thankfully, Nike understands this.
That's why they're completely avoiding the exploding "toning-shoe" category, even though the category is estimated to be worth $1 billion in 2010 (up from $17 million in 2008) by financial experts.
To their credit, the discovery of this new category is igniting major growth for the Adidas owned Reebok and Skechers brands, this despite overall declines in footwear.
However, toning shoes make marketing sense for those brands. The Skechers brand has existed without a real strong identity until "Shape-Ups" while Reebok owned the female ignited areobic shoe position during the 1980's.
Conversely, the Nike brand was built on athlete performance. They commanded consumers to "Just do it." Toning shoes hope to give consumers the option of "getting in shape without setting foot in the gym" and "get better legs and butt with every step."
This is great branding by both competitors. On one hand, Adidas deserves a lot of credit for finding and owning the "toning shoe" category, while Nike has remained focused on it's core brand.