Grade 6-8, 9-12

Product Differentiation: Design and Advertise a Shoe

Time: 90 mins,
Updated: June 8 2023,


Students will be able to

  • Define product differentiaion and identify real world examples.
  • Design and adversite their own product to peers.


Product Differentiation PowerPoint Slides

Product Differentiation and Advertising Shoes student handout

Wing$ – Macklemore video.  Both versions work with this lesson – teacher discretion as to which is appropriate for their classroom


Warm Up:

  1. Begin class by asking students if they had one pair of shoes to take to college or on vacation, which would they take and why? Some answers might be flip flops, running shoes, shower shoes. 
  2. Give 3 minutes for students to share with a partner or small group.
  3. After the conversation ends, have students share their responses with the whole class, making note of which shoes were selected, and the reasoning.
  4. Explain to the class that they will be learning about the intricacies of shoe markets today, and make a connection about how the characteristics of this market make it unique from other market structures.
  5. Go to the 3rd slide and explain the characteristics of monopolistically competitive firms and identify the 4 characteristics, emphasizing how advertising and product differentiation are unique to this firm structure. Define ease of entry as having no major barriers to entry like high start up costs or patents.
  6. Then, go to slide 4. Explain that now students will watch a music video by Mackelmore called, “Wings.” Note* This music video has 2 bad words that you might want to let students know of before showing the video and a powerful scene. An alternative video to show is the NBA version of the video if this seems more appropriate to your students on the lower video on the slide.Wing$ – Macklemore video.  Both versions work with this lesson – teacher discretion as to which is appropriate for their classroom
  7. Tell the students that as they watch to consider the 2 questions:
    • How does this music video show what this company’s advertising and product differentiation do to consumers? 
      • Answers might include: The singer speaks about how if you wear them you can jump so high; you will be like Michael Jordan and touch the rim; it will make you so cool
    • How does this company have market power?
      • Answers might include: My friends couldn’t afford them – the price is higher than the competitor Adidas, because it helps you jump higher and be cooler
  8. When the video ends, have students share their answers. Try to emphasize how the brand and “cool” factor cause the buyers to want these shoes more. You might make a list of how this pair of shoes impacts buyers.
  9. Have them consider if they have a pair of shoes like this from their past or now. Was there a particular advertisement that caused them to buy this type of shoes?


  1. Now, turn to slide 5. Show the diverse sneakers shown in the photo on the left, explaining how each pair has different features, colors, and an overall style. Draw attention to the graphic on the right that shows the number of competitors in the market and the biggest companies selling sneakers. Ask students why Nike might have a larger share of the market than their competitors. Answers might include their ability to develop a brand that is trusted or well known by their customers.
  2. Turn to slide 6, and give students time to look and see the types of shoes that are on their peers in the classroom. Point out the differences and reflect on how many pairs are/aren’t the same. Emphasize the vast number of shoes just within their class, which will help reinforce the large number of sellers in the market.
  3. On slide 7, read the definition of product differentiation and why this strategy gives a company market power. You might explain how each particular shoe has a different style/look/comfort which appeals to a particular market.


  1. Now tell students that they will be working in groups to practice differentiating a product and also advertising it.
  2. Turn to slide 9, and show the example of a student rap that was created to help advertise a pair of kleenex box shoes. Have students reflect on what made those shoes unique and how it might have been attractive to certain consumers.
  3. Handout a copy for each student Product Differentiation and Advertising Shoes student handout
  4. Turn to slide 10, and go over the instructions for the assignment. Read the prompt:
    1. Your group is hired to design a shoe that is differentiated and advertise it in a short commercial.
    2. Decide your role, then brainstorm and design the shoe.
    3. Brainstorm and write your commercial.
  5. Flip through the following slides to show examples of shoes that were designed to show product differentiation and a specific target audience.


Group Activity


Product Differentiation and Advertising: Shoe Design!

Task: Your group is to design a unique shoe that will appeal to a target market. Decide your role, and then brainstorm together about your product development and advertisement. Be prepared to show the class your shoe and commercial at the beginning of next class.

Product Differentiation and Advertising Shoes student handout

  1. Encourage students to make a copy of the digital product to brainstorm on and to draw their shoe design on a white dry erase board or in a digital drawing application like notability.
  2. Have the students specialize in a task, but collaborate together on the overall vision of the shoe and the commercial.
  3. Remind them they should complete the background sheet, shoe design, and the script for the commercial in the remainder of class.
  4. The following class, have students present their skits live to practice “advertising” and reinforce the importance of it in this market structure the first 15 minutes.


Optional Extension:

  1. If you have additional time, you might encourage students to record their commercials, and add special effects to help add emotional hooks and sounds to improve the impact of the commercial.
  2. View these videos at the end of a second class period, and vote on the “Best” commercial, using a digital form to collect votes.