Since the company was founded in 1964, the Nike brand (originally Blue-Ribbon Sports) has become one of the most recognizable in the world thanks to the famous “The Swoosh” logo created by student Carolyn Davidson for $35. Of course, partly, the brand gained its popularity thanks to innovative products, but it is unlikely that it would have gone so far ahead from its competitors if there were no successful marketing strategy.
Nike: at the beginning
For over fifty years of existence, Nike’s marketing approach has changed somewhat. At the very beginning, Nike was focused on design and manufacturing, as it was precisely innovations that helped the company to leave the competition far behind. However, in the 90s, after rethinking the Nike business strategy due to a number of failures in the business, the company changed the approach, reorienting it towards customers and marketing.
In 1992, in an interview with the Harvard Business Review, company CEO Phil Knight commented on the change in approach: “We used to think that everything starts in a laboratory. Now we understand that everything depends on the buyer. Technology plays a significant role, but it is the buyer who should direct them on right track. We have to innovate for a reason, and the source of this reason is the market. Otherwise, we will become a company that produces museum exhibits.
For years, Nike relied on its print and television advertising campaigns, which represented one thing – either Nike created or a sponsorship model. The slogans “Just do it” and “Bo Knows” literally became synonymous with the word Nike.
Today, the company has moved away from this type of ads to a Nike digital strategy. From 2009 to 2012, their advertising costs decreased by 40%, although the company’s marketing fund increased by a record 2.4 billion dollars. What does that kind of money go to? The answer is advertising, in which new technologies are involved, and which allows you to directly reach the target audience of the brand – seventeen-year-old customers, who spend 20% more on shoes than older brand fans.
Emotional branding is a Nike marketing strategy to create a brand reputation in which a brand appeals to the needs of a potential customer, his desires or emotional state.
Emotional branding is especially strong when customers feel connected to a brand like affection, love or friendship. These feelings can be conscious or not.
When it comes to emotional branding, Nike is one of the leaders. Perhaps the whole thing is that the company relies on the image of the Hero which is old as time. Anyone can lose their sight, watching with admiration as two powerful forces fight and the strongest win – especially if the buyer himself feels like a Hero. That is a significant part of Nike business strategy.
Nike interprets these old-fashioned images in a different way, concentrating the buyer’s attention on the internal enemy, and not on the external one. What is this enemy? Laziness. All Nike advertising motivates buyers to stand up, go, not give up. The short version is “just do it.” Nike advertising is an anthem to the work and the victory of potential buyers over their “lazy side”. So, the brand appeals to the desire to be meaningful.
Nike has succeeded so much in this that brand advertising is not just for athletes – anyone can be meaningful since this desire is inherent in all people. Such a strategy is almost universal.
And even though Nike decided to focus on digital marketing, pushing print and television advertising to the background, the emotional branding technique has not lost its relevance. Motivational messages on Twitter, famous athletes on Facebook and Instagram – Nike still appeals to the buyer as the company is one of few.
Nike Digital Marketing Strategy: Social networks
Like many other large corporations, Nike skillfully takes full advantage of social networks. On its pages, the brand communicates directly with customers. And in this regard, Nike is one of the highest among the most active companies concerned about their presence in social networks. That is why social network is a Nike competitive advantage.
Nike has several different Twitter accounts for different subsidiary brands. The company mainly focuses on using the @mention function. This means that a significant part of Nike’s Twitter activity is in responding to buyer’s requests that can directly contact their favorite brand. In the past, this approach was not possible.
Nike employees personally answer questions about products, goods remaining in the warehouse, and orders. And this is despite the fact that Nike has a separate account for support services, specially created to answer customer questions.
On the pages of their subsidiary brands (related to golf, football, basketball, etc.), buyers can find training tips, detailed information about the products, get answers to their questions (as on all other pages) or find inspiration. Twitter helps to diversify Nike digital strategy.
The Nike account on Instagram is the most popular on this social network: the number of subscribers is really impressive – more than 80 million! By publishing videos and art photos, Nike creates a very attractive image in both its main account and its subsidiaries – for example, in Nike Running. The company understands what Instagram is for and what subscribers want to see, so you can find a huge amount of breathtaking landscapes and pictures of real people who wear Nike, not as from a catalog.
Besides, the company has a tool called NIKEPHOTOiD, with which customers can use their Instagram photos to customize their sneakers. Instagram is a big part of Nike digital strategy.
At first, the Nike page on Pinterest was dedicated exclusively to the Nike Women line. Now on this site, as many as twelve boards with pictures of different lines of shoes, clothing for the holidays and accessories. However, Nike seems to publish only its own images on Pinterest and uses this site more as a product catalog, and not as a marketing tool that could be the perfect assistant to showcase corporate values and culture.
Nike has several pages on Facebook – each is dedicated to a separate product category. On the pages devoted to the sport, new photos and videos are published daily – as a rule, with the participation of famous athletes sponsored by Nike, and the company’s products.
Nike Innovation Strategy: Digital sport
Nike Digital Sport is a quite new division of Nike, launched in 2010 (when the company spent more than $800 million on non-traditional advertising), which develops technologies and devices that help customers keep their own fitness statistics. That is a Nike innovation strategy.
The most famous invention of Digital Sport is the Nike + running sensor, developed jointly with Apple. At least twenty million people use it. Nike + helps to track the level of physical activity using a wireless connection. All data is stored on the Nike website, and users can share their achievements on Twitter and Facebook. The complete set, in addition to the Nike + sensor, includes appropriate shoes and a tracking bracelet.
Recently, Nike has created a FuelBand – a bracelet that measures energy costs.
Nike Online store
The online store Nike.com has won numerous awards for outstanding user experience has been honored at Cannes and at the festivals The Webby’s, Digiday & London International. The online store is a big part of Nike business model.
Nike has been nominated for plenty of awards, winning them, for the Best Shopping Experience.
The visitor can immediately notice a very neat and concise design that creates a beautiful first impression and instantly draws attention to the product.
The page focuses your attention only on the main thing, and the sections provide the information you need to make a purchasing decision.
Key advantages of the Nike online store
Nike digital strategy includes one of the best online shops in the world. Let’s highlight its key chips:
- Use of only high-quality photos of products: high-quality images with a high resolution not only look more attractive but also do a very important job on the product page: they allow you to look at the product to the smallest detail and literally “feel” it physically;
- Multiple product images increase the information content: a well-chosen image in a second can sometimes answer questions that require a large amount of text for an explanation. Since visitors cannot see the real product, the photographs should “become the eyes” of the customer, providing maximum visual information about the product to make a positive purchase decision;
- Optimization of the process of searching and viewing other versions of the same product: the alternative product images on the product page are a really great idea. Here you can see and appreciate all the colors of the goods presented in the range without any extra clicks;
- Highlighting goods that are not available: Nike did an outstanding job here, showing which models and options for shoes you can order right now instead of the required one.
All these points allow to optimize the sales funnel and increase conversion. No wonder the company has received so many awards for the best shopping experience. Nike digital strategy is built around two big hotbeds – social networks and an online store.
The use of modern popular technologies has helped Nike to reach unprecedented heights and attract millions of fans. Having realized in time that print and television advertising would not help to achieve such results, the brand relied on the use of social media and modern technologies.