Nike marketing strategy & branding
Marketing should be transformed into a company-wide discipline practiced by anyone who works for said company whether directly or indirectly. Simply, marketing has to become a coordinated, cross-departmental function in-which every department decision primarily contributes toward the refinement and communication of the brand message.
Case in point - Nike. On the surface Nike appears to be the world's leading sportswear design company, producing innovative products that improve athlete performance; but in fact, Nike is the world's leading sportswear marketing firm. Over the course of decades Nike have rigorously refined their brand identity, investing significant proportions of their budget to maintaining an accurate understanding of consumer demands, the company's employ a semi-autonomous geographic division style of management structure which promotes flexibility in satisfying regional market-specific consumer preferences for Nike’s athletic shoes, clothing and equipment.
Each regional manager discovers methods to interpret consumer requirements through the brand's unique identity and optimizes operations for their regional market.
Nike are veteran practitioners of traditional communication techniques such as billboards, magazines and television, a few notable ad campaigns worth looking up on youtube - The Very First 'Just Do It' Ad (1988), Andre Agassi And The Red Hot Chili Peppers In Rock 'N Roll Tennis (1991), Hello World! (1996), Hip-Hop Hits Mainstream In Nike Freestyle (2001).
In 2018 Creditsuisse published a report that project 25% of shopping malls in the US will shut down by 2020. This is due to consumer purchasing shifting online. As a solution leading organisations are engaging in more experimental retail initiatives giving birth to a new concept commonly referred to as “Experience retail”.
Yet, Nike have been experimenting with the concept of experience retail since the early 90’s when the company launched Niketown.
Niketown behaves more like theme park Legoland rather than a retail store. Over the years the store has hosted numerous events endorsed by VIP’s from various professional sporting leagues, this effort has made Niketown an appealing attraction to global sports enthusiasts all of whom hoping to compete in one of many Nike “king of freestyle” competitions or personalise a pair of sneakers at the Nike design studio. It’s in Nike’s interest that consumers continue to believe that professional competitive performance is direct result of their products. To maintain that illusion Niketown must draw on a great deal of subtle aesthetics. Complete with mini football fields, life-sized slogans, DJ booths and life like mannequins devised to pull at your inner sportsman, every detail is focused on strengthening the brands’ affiliation to sports performance in a highly engaging fashion.
Niketown is one of the first experience retail stores. Where value is not measured by sales per square foot as traditional stores are, but rather measured by profound consumer engagement.
Nike product offerings illustrate a brand intune with current consumer landscape, this is best illustrated by their recent activity. Current consumer sentiment is in-part lead by the rise of far right politics, the pivotal #metoo campaign in the entertainment industry, wage stagnation and much more than I can fit in a single study. Consumer sentiment is similar to that of the 80s anti nuclear movement. However, unlike 80s activists, today's public are holding companies accountable for their opinions or lack-thereof. This is an era where brands are considered political entities, proving their party affiliations through endorsements, campaign imagery and cultural prudence.
Nike are strategically transitioning their brand communications to reflect the current landscape. The Nike Hijab introduced in 2017 is a product which directly serves the growing influence of the Islamic community (A vote for inclusivity).
Followed by the 2018 unveil of Nike’s first stand alone female sneaker store - Unlaced, a concept store that Nike dub “a fantasy sneaker destination for women”. As part of its stated ambition to grow its $6.6 billion women's business to $11 billion by 2020 the company have increased their overall advertising budget by $100m to $3.34b.
Nike are setting a new benchmark which will elevate industry standards for any brand with ambitions of becoming a global player. Their polished management structure exhibit a brand intent on listening to its audience at the ground level which is perhaps the greatest challenge for any brand, let alone one of this size.