When we think of businesses that sell sports shoes or running shoes, one of the first names that come to our mind is Nike.
The business giant initially started as an American import-export company that imported the infamous Tiger shoes from Japan and sold it to American citizens.
Founders of Nike
Phil Knight, a college student, and his coach Bill Bowerman came together to start this venture in 1964 under Blue Ribbon Sports.
Their business was a success from the start as they bridged the gap that existed in the community. They provided superior quality shoes at affordable prices in comparison to their now competitors, Adidas or Puma.
In 1971, due to a conflict with Tiger shoes, Blue Ribbon Sports officially split from their supplier and renamed themselves, Nike. Inc. based on one of their revolutionary designs the “Tiger Cortez” or the “Nike Cortez” which was the reason for the conflict in the first place.
Nike Revenue from Financial Year 2005 to 2022 (in Million USD)
Nike has generated over 46.71 billion USD in revenue in 2022 establishing itself time and again as a force to be reckoned with.
As of 2022, Nike is operating in over 1000 retail stores across 170 countries and has over 80,000 employees. Their world headquarters are located in One Bowerman Drive, USA, and have several head offices across the globe.
They have expanded their product inventory from selling just sports shoes to selling shoes, clothing, equipment, and sports accessories for men, women, and children.
Nike – Company Highlights
|Company||Nike (1971- Now)|
|Formerly||Blue Ribbon Sports, Inc.|
|Industry||Apparel, Accessories, Sports equipment|
|Products||Athletic shoes, athletic apparel, sporting goods, accessories|
|Founded||January 25, 1964; 59 years ago|
|Founders||Bill Bowerman, Phil Knight|
|Headquarters||Beaverton, Oregon, U.S.|
|President and CEO||John Joseph Donahoe|
|Key People||Philip H. Knight (Chairman Emeritus)|
Mark Parker (Executive Chairman)
John Hoke III (Chief Design Officer)
|Revenue||US$46.71 billion (2022)|
|Number of employees||79,100 (May 2022)|
Over the years, Nike has come up with some of the most innovative and creative ad campaigns. From their infamous “Just do it” campaign in 1988 to its most recent “Dream Crazy” campaign in 2022, Nike has experimented with and tested several different marketing strategies.
So let us now analyze the different marketing strategies that were implemented by Nike to sustain and thrive across decades.
Nike’s Ideal Target Segment
Over the years Nike has gradually treaded into the luxury industry. They not only have a wide range of inventory, but they also have versatility in their price range.
This has expanded their target demographic. Individuals from high-income families and socio-economic groups form Nike’s Ideal target audience.
Consumers who are sports enthusiasts and prefer a healthy lifestyle but are still conscious of their image and brands form their major target segment.
North America generates the most revenue for Nike.
When we further analyze this data, it can be concluded that men form a vast majority of their consumer group, responsible for 55.06% of the total engagement and women contribute 44.94%.
Three primary age groups generate the most traffic on their online sites. Those in the age group of 25-34 form the majority by contributing 31.18% of the traffic. Those in the age group of 18-24 and 35-44 contribute 26.84% and 19.09% respectively.
Now that we have discussed the ideal target audience, let us look at some of Nike’s digital ad campaigns to better understand the strategies and practices implemented by them.
Nike’s Successful Digital Ad Campaigns
Nike’s Campaign 1 – The wonder woman of vogue
“The wonder woman of vogue” campaign was Nike’s way of showing that they are proud allies of the LGBTQ+ community while still promoting their latest collection called “#BeTrue”.
This video ad campaign was produced by Public Record and was aesthetically conceptualized and shot by Daisy Zhou.
Nike collaborated with Leiomy Moldonado a Vogue artist and ballroom dancer who is also a part of the LGBTQ+ community. The entire short film’s audio appeal was enhanced with wonderful narration by Precious Angel Ramirez.
The ad campaign was shot as a short film that served three primary purposes. The first purpose was to explore the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community to art, particularly the birth and culture of Voguing.
The second was to promote their latest collection
And third, the purpose was to celebrate PRIDE month. And the ad managed to do all this in a duration of a minute, and that is the power of storytelling.
The ad was released on Nike’s official social media pages like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and others.
Nike’s Campaign 2 – You can’t stop us
Nike launched the “You can’t stop us” campaign in July 2020, to inspire people when all hope was lost during the pandemic. The goal was to motivate and give hope to people that things will get better and that they can overcome challenges and emerge victorious.
The ad was conceptualized and created by Weiden+Kennedy. The whole process involved analyzing and handpicking a few videos from more than 4000 videos showcasing brilliant moments of human resilience and the power of determination across different sports like tennis, baseball, gymnastics, basketball, skateboarding, athletics, and so on.
The edit, flow of the story, and the raw emotions that can be felt in the ad form the entire crux.
The ad was released on major social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and others. The 1.5-minute ad inspires, motivates, and gives hope to people to stay positive during difficult times as there is always a meaningful light at the end of the tunnel.
This ad campaign was not created for sales or to generate revenue. It was created with a consumer-centric approach to stand as a source of support to all those suffering in a major healthcare crisis.
It reflected Nike’s brand and its image and mission through powerful storytelling, visuals, and auditory elements.
Nike’s Campaign 3 – Reactland campaign
Nike’s Reactland campaign was launched in March 2018. The ad campaign was one of a kind with its perfect blend of technology and product placement.
Nike collaborated with Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai to create a unique AI experience for their customers while showcasing their latest collection of running shoes.
The experience allowed shoppers to try on the new collection, and get their pictures clicked to help in the creation of their 8-bit avatar.
The customers would then step on the treadmill and start running. And this would reflect on the screen as their avatar. At the end of this immersive experience, the customers would receive a 10-second customized video of this experience.
And about 50% of the customers who tried on Nike’s react running shoes and had this immersive AI experience ended up making their purchase.
This installation was introduced in only four stores and also a pop-up store in China for about a month.
The customized videos and campaign ads were promoted on different social media handles with the hashtag “Reactland” and “Nike”.
It was an extremely unique and innovative marketing strategy that took in-store trials to the next level. It proved to be immensely successful in reflecting Nike’s brand value.
Nike’s Website Strategies
The main purpose of the website is to generate a stream of revenue and an online presence for the brand.
Nike’s website is well organized and categorized to ensure a seamless customer experience. It has a mobile-first approach to ensure that consumers can access and log in to the website through any device.
The look and feel of the website are minimal and cohesive with the brand’s image and have a user-friendly UI design.
Having said this, some argue that the color choices and style of design might be a little too boring and forgettable. It is a fast-loading website that has clear and distinct labels and hyperlinks placed to ensure easy navigation throughout.
All the different products are categorized accordingly to ensure customers can easily access what they are looking for.
Flexible payments and filters encourage consumers to buy with ease and also help with quality lead generation.
The brand’s website also supports easy ordering and tracking by all teams and consumers to ensure the entire process is smooth. They also facilitate consumers to customize their orders and this is completely done through their website.
The website is also highly interactive and has quality links embedded to access the homepage and sub-pages. Nike has also implemented an efficient feature that allows its customers to access any part of the website with just a click.
And the website has over 92 technologies embedded to ensure no lagging occurs at any stage of the ordering process.
Overall, Nike has a well-rounded and inclusive approach to its website to ensure the best experience for its customers.
Hence, we can conclude that Nike has a consumer-centric approach to creating and developing its website.
Nike’s SEO Marketing Strategies
Nike has an optimized online presence which is reflected in its website traffic. According to SEMrush, Nike receives a total of 179.1 million average online visitors every month. Consumers surf through the website for an average of almost 4 minutes.
And Nike occupies the 4th position in the US in the category of “Fashion and apparel”.
These statements reflect the quality of the plans and SEO strategies implemented by the brand.
Nike has performed timely on-page and off-page SEO audits for its multiple websites to ensure that it is bringing in quality leads.
24.45% of the total traffic on their website is generated organically. Hence, we can conclude that their keywords, landing pages, and content have been fully optimized for the purpose.
Nike’s website migration to nike.com, optimization of the homepage to add value to internal linking, and its investment in launch pages have significantly improved its ranking online.
Nike’s Unique Product Landing Pages
Uniquely created product splash pages are a great tool to drive consumers into downloading and installing the Nike app to facilitate conversions.
The brand has optimized and retargeted its keywords to ensure that the business ranks high even when generic terms are searched.
Nike has optimized its website for over 112k keywords out of which some of the top searches are:
- Nike shoes
- Jordan shoes
- Nike air force 1
- Nike shoes for men
Overall, Nike has focused on fully developing all aspects of its website to ensure maximum reach and engagement.
Their design and approach are cohesive with their brand. They have impeccable and innovative site architecture and pages that not only create a seamless experience for the consumers but also generates quality leads and conversions for the brand.
Nike’s Main Organic Competitors
The top five competitors of Nike are:
- Foot Locker
- Stock x
- Dicks Sporting Goods
- Sports Direct
Each of these brands focuses on the sports and athletics category and caters to a similar clientele. Hence, Foot Locker and Nike have an affinity score of 100%. Food Locker receives a total of 17 million visits a month in comparison to Nike’s 179.1 million visits.
Nike’s Social Media Marketing Strategies
2.70% of the engagement on Nike’s website comes from their social media. Given that their total revenue was 44.5 billion USD in 2021. They are active on several different social media platforms, 26 to be exact.
Out of these, YouTube (37.97%), Facebook (32.64%), Reddit (7.03%), and Twitter (6.38%), are the most popular ones.
They have a multiple-account approach which means that Nike is operating more than 300 official accounts on several different social media platforms simultaneously. This is a common strategy adopted by large brands to ensure that each of their product categories is being marketed effectively and accurately.
These social media accounts are for their men’s collection, women’s collection, kid’s collection, yoga, swimwear, basketball, football, skateboarding, and so much more.
Nike’s content team creates highly specific and brand-cohesive content that can be shared on all platforms with just a few minor tweaks.
Powerful story-telling through an emphasis on EQ and simple yet catchy slogans is their signature approach. Powerful visuals speak louder than words and hence most of their social media campaigns prioritize the auditory and visual spectacle over the spoken word.
|Platform||No. of followers|
Very cleverly, they have established themselves as not only a business that sells products but as a brand that promotes a healthy and conscious lifestyle. This is crucial to influence the consumers and convert them into loyal customers.
Nike’s social media content always ensures to bring to light any issues or movements unfolding in society. Hence, they have shown their support by conceptualizing and creating campaigns against racism, hate, and violence.
Nike has a huge list of A-list athletes who endorse the brand. And this facilitates the creation of likable and shareable social media content.
Top athletes like Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Marcus Rashford MBE, and Christiano Ronaldo endorse the brand, appealing to a much wider demographic.
Overall, Nike has a very clear, concise, and no-nonsense approach to its marketing which stands cohesive with its brand image.
Nike’s Influencer Marketing Strategies
Nike is one of the many brands that has actively utilized the power and reach of celebrities to promote the brand right from the start. Hence, they have always been aware of the influence of those select few who can take the brand to the next level.
The type of marketing that involves onboarding celebrities or social media influencers to promote the products of a business to their respective fan base is called influencer marketing. The system of payment between the influencer and the business client can vary accordingly from freebies, benefits, and memberships to financial payments and sponsorships.
Nike believes in the “Pyramid Spillover” approach which means that the athletes who endorse the brand influence consumers and also reflect the image of the brand.
And this belief can be seen in most of Nike’s ad campaigns which involve top athletes from different sports and games.
Nike has also collaborated with other well-known personalities like Drake, Kanye West, J Balvin, Anna Wintour, and so on.
From Steve Prefontaine and Michael Jordan to Rafael Nadal and Tiger woods, Nike has a checklist of traits that it actively seeks out in its ambassadors.
And so far, all have proved to be immensely successful.
Due to its brand value and legacy, Nike does not pay social media influencers to promote its products. These influencers do reviews and unboxings of Nike products to gain traction for their accounts and all the brand has to do is permit them.
Overall Nike has a fully optimized influencer marketing strategy which has facilitated not only sustaining its brand value but also enhancing it.
Nike’s E-commerce Strategies
A successful e-commerce strategy facilitates a wide reach and more revenue generation. And before the pandemic, Nike had optimized its e-commerce strategy which was based on the “Triple Double strategy”. This strategy involved doubling the efforts and focusing along three lines, innovation, speed, and direct contact with consumers.
Since 2017, Nike shifted their focus from solely catering to the wholesale needs of retailers to directly supplying shoes to consumers in the retail category.
And hence, they began reducing their dependence on departmental stores and directly connecting with buyers online. This was the start of their innovative e-commerce strategy.
They developed their channel of communication to ensure the best experience for their customers. They stopped selling on Amazon in 2019 and decided to go with only 40 strategic retailers and maximize their sales on their e-commerce platform.
With a highly efficient app and website, they cater to every need of the consumer to ensure maximum lead generation and conversions.
Keeping consumers engaged in between their purchases is crucial to retaining them in the long run. And Nike continued with product launches even during the pandemic to maximize their sales by analyzing consumer behavior and relevant data. A great example of their strategy and innovation was their launch of active maternity wear in 2020 to cater to a unique clientele.
Similar to Apple, Nike has built an efficient ecosystem that facilitates consumers to step into the business from several entry points.
Their training apps and running cubs are a few of these entry points. This is a great strategy to optimize e-commerce while expanding their demographic.
Overall, Nike is one of the leaders in successful e-commerce strategy which has enabled it to not only reach out to a versatile demographic but also grow its business exponentially.
Nike’s App Strategies
Nike’s app strategy is very clear. They believe that a unique and unforgettable experience needs to be provided in both mobile shopping and traditional stores.
So, to optimize their mobile apps, they have ensured quick download and installation followed by an easy registration process.
They have a multi-app approach to ensure each of their categories receives the attention and focus they need to expand and generate revenue.
Their apps are compact and designed to bear less load. They have a clear and simple inventory display which allows consumers to navigate effortlessly and make their purchases.
Nike has introduced built-in tracking systems that allow the app to collect user data which is then analyzed and implemented at every stage of the design process and marketing.
And lastly, they create unique experiences and a sense of exclusivity which can be seen in the launch strategy of their app exclusively for sneakerheads. They focus on a narrow consumer pool for such launches and build on the traction received from the exclusive clientele.
Overall, their app strategy is unique and holistic that ensuring the brand is optimized at all levels efficiently.
Nike’s Content Marketing Strategies
Content marketing is a very powerful tool that facilitates customer retention and also quality lead generation. It refers to the concept of creating unique and engaging content in the form of videos, blogs, commercials, podcasts, etc, and promoting that on different mediums.
It reflects the brand value and is extremely valuable for engaging customers in between their purchases and ensuring that your brand is memorable.
Nike has effective content marketing strategies that consist of immersive social media posts and challenges, engaging blogs, and even video content on trivia about the brand and also their stand on certain topics of importance like equality, discrimination, and so on.
Their content strategy relies on powerful storytelling that pays homage to raw human emotions.
Their content is inspirational and aims at motivating and encouraging people to practice a healthy lifestyle and stay resilient in tough times.
Overall, their content marketing strategy is inclusive and well-rounded and perfectly bridges a unique gap. It balances what Nike wishes to achieve as a brand and what the audience finds interesting and engaging.
1. What is Nike doing to improve its digital marketing strategies for the next two years?
Nike has recently focused on improving its digital marketing strategies by investing in data analytics and personalization technologies to better understand and target its customers. The company has also increased its social media presence and launched innovative campaigns such as the Nike Run Club app and the Nike Training Club app to engage customers and promote its products.
2. What digital marketing strategies does Nike use?
Nike uses a variety of digital marketing strategies including social media marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and online advertising. They also invest in creating engaging and interactive websites and mobile apps to improve customer experience and drive sales. Nike’s digital marketing campaigns often focus on storytelling, inspiring and motivating their audience with powerful messages and relatable content.
3. What is Nike doing to stay ahead of the curve in digital marketing?
Nike is leveraging technology and innovation to stay ahead of the curve in digital marketing. They are investing in data analytics to better understand their customers and personalize their marketing messages. Additionally, Nike is exploring new technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality to enhance the customer experience and create unique marketing campaigns.
Nike has been operating for decades and hence has built up quite a few strengths through years of innovation and testing.
One of Nike’s biggest strengths is the clarity it has in its brand image and value. This facilitates the creation of well-planned marketing strategies to produce beneficial results.
Nike has a very loyal customer base, high-profile celebrity endorsements that are not superficial but genuine, and its focus on sustainability are some of the factors that give Nike an edge over its competitors.
A versatile inventory and product category list, trained professionals and experts, low manufacturing cost, support from the black community, and a high market share value are some of the other factors that strengthen Nike’s brand image.
With strengths come weaknesses and Nike has its share of those. Debts and arrears which are yet to be paid, lack of labor regulations in foreign manufacturing units, market share of retailers, internal conflicts within the brand, dependence on the US consumer base, and lack of a diversified category are some of the weaknesses that Nike needs to overcome.
Nike has several brilliant opportunities to further expand and grow. Prioritizing the retail sector over wholesale, diversifying their product inventory, and embracing new and exciting technological advancements and tools in their product development and marketing are great ways to further drive their brand toward success.
Fun Fact: Learning about the latest marketing case studies, and strategies of brands will provide you with an edge over your competitors. And this edge is extremely beneficial in the long run.
Implementing innovative and creative marketing strategies also facilitates expansion and better revenue generation.
Nike also experiences severe competition from other similar brands. This dilutes the quality and flow of traffic to their site, thereby impacting sales and revenue.
Fake products and dupes divert leads and prevent conversions and sales. Budgeting issues, foreign exchange issues, and disputes over patents and authenticity drain energy and resources.
Overall, Nike has a well-rounded and cohesive marketing strategy that aims at inspiring consumers.
It has an engaging and interactive approach to its strategies and ensures a clear representation of its brand image in all its marketing endeavors.
Nike has grown tremendously over the last 5+ decades and will continue to do so.
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