Deodato has over 110k monthly listeners. And an enviable distribution platform. Here’s why it matters.

The question we ask ourselves is, would he have that many listeners today without Spotify? That sounded bitchy, but it wasn’t meant to. Eumir Deodato is, in fact, one of the major, enduring forces in jazz and popular music and has been consistently since the 1960’s. Although he is an icon, he’s not on the radio, and these days he rarely tours.

Now check this out:

So Deodato’s concentration of listeners isn’t so concentrated. In his world of distribution, Mexico City is at the top. But Santiago (population 6.5M) is as important as Paris, France (population 10.5M), and not far behind that of Sao Paulo (population 11.9M). And let’s not forget London (a mere 8.6M). We can dive into the percentage drop between #1 and #2, but taken together these 5 cities comprise just over 8% of his 110,000 monthly listeners, so he’s a pretty evenly distributed guy. Clearly available everywhere, but no single market represents a “make-or-break” for him.

Which brings us to Nike.

Fire In The Sky
When Nike recently announced that they are beginning a drastic scaling-back of their total number of points-of-purchase, it felt like a tectonic shift in the retail firmament. Consider this:

The company’s current retail network encompasses 30,000 retailers with 110,000 points of distribution. Nike officials said the company won’t necessarily remove Nike products from those other retailers, but over the next several years will focus its resources, marketing efforts and exclusive product offerings on 40 key partners

This sounds counter-intuitive. More retailers means more availability, which means more sales to more people, more often, right? In the e-commerce world where I mainly operate, it’s all about product visibility: you have to be prominently present in a consumer’s search return, and you have to show up how the consumer thinks he/she should look for you. That means, the notion of “brand nomenclature” needs to give way to how regular people think of – and refer to – your products.

The genius of Nike’s move is that – like Deodato – they don’t suffer from lack of availability. They identified their problem as being one of too much availability, where you become commoditized along with Under Armour and Lululemon. With over 11,000 points of sale it’s impossible to manage merchandising with any degree of effectiveness.

Make no mistake: It is merchandising – both in-store and online – that is the brand’s first line of defense.

To be clear, when we say brand’s we don’t mean the organization, we mean the organization’s brand. The Nike promise becomes diluted when lumped in on a sloppy rack with other nondescript versions of the same apparel or footwear item. The coordinated set that Nike developed to work together may very well not be shown together, because jackets go here and pants go across the store by the parkas.

It did not take long for this news to reverberate across retail industry channels, and the feedback from retail industry experts has been pretty positive. Scroll down to the “Join The Discussion” section for a fuller view but the consensus is that they’re taking a bold step toward doing the right thing for their brand.

The Curated Experience
Deodato, as an artist, creates as he is so driven. Deodato, as a product, makes himself available in live venues on his terms, or in the tightly curated environment of online streaming services. While nobody wanted practically all the independent record stores to have shuttered, the world of online streaming does deliver greater control through a focused point of distribution that nevertheless enables him to be where he is wanted and needed.

Nike knows that it’s brand promise is best managed by Nike. They know how their 100 million members on behave, what they like to see and how they spend. By focusing its distribution to points where it could retain the most control, the company has insured that its brand will remain undiluted while still having products wherever they are wanted and needed.

That’s why Nike just did it.