The recent Nike investor day had some very interesting areas of focus. Digital sales, ecommerce, and direct to customer sales were all areas that were discussed at length. This was very encouraging for me from a business opportunity perspective and made me think about the possibilities that the new digital landscape presented to a sports company like Nike.
First of course is the opportunity to reach out to customers directly. Ecommerce has become easier than ever thanks to the mobile Internet and this allows companies such as Nike to build a direct relationship with customers. Some customers might prefer to just shop in a sports store, selecting from the range that is available, but with the global fan base Nike has already developed there is a large audience out there who will order direct specifically so they can have products before they are in the stores.
Take a look at the Nike website. It’s easy to pick any product they supply and to get it shipped immediately. They have gift guides to help customers select presents, free postage, and some regions offer easy credit terms – breaking your payments over the next year. They make it as easy as possible not just to order direct so you can be ahead of what your friends are wearing but to personalise your purchase and help create your own identity whether you are hitting the gym, the football pitch or the golf course.
But even more important than just building a great ecommerce offering is the idea of community building – turning sports fans into fans of the Nike brand. The Nike Training Club offers a virtual personal training system where the training programme is designed specifically for you based on desired outcomes. The Nike+ training app measures your runs and allows runners to compete with their friends.
All these apps encourage community, connections between those who are training and active in sport and Nike. Nike helps the sports fan to enjoy their sport even more by offering these tools and of course, within the apps there is the opportunity to purchase or learn more about Nike products.
Nike has had an exciting brand for a long time. The Nike ‘swoosh’ is a very popular tattoo because it’s an icon for their ‘just do it’ attitude. Even people who are not very active within sport can identify with this attitude and want to be a part of the community. The company has a great reputation for product design and is now very clearly identifying how their audience can be more connected via the mobile environment.
By taking their reputation a step further and using mobile technologies to build a relationship with customers Nike is playing a clever game. They are building deep emotional bonds with customers that go far beyond the usual brand preference for trainers or running shirts. Nike customers can become part of a wider global community and this allows Nike to focus on long-term relationships, not just a single transaction in a sports retailer.
Photo by Erin Halasz licensed under Creative Commons.