nike case study

So a few weeks later I’ve managed to change jobs, book a wedding venue and reopen the Nike Case study series. With exams starting next week, I’m hoping for a prolific next 5 days with lots of writing and thinking and not much TV, couch or Fiancé (or as I like to call it, the Devil’s trinity of procrastination) I’ve managed to wrangle a week of study time between jobs and have dutifully set myself up in a suburban library, as far away from the Devil’s trinity as possible. So without further ado…

When we’re looking at Nike’s developments over the past decade, innovation and consumer influence over the marketing mix and key product developments have changed dramatically. As Yoo (2009) point out, digital technology has radically reduced the communication cost for remote collaboration and coordination. While this has implications for all global companies, and how their international supply chains operate, it also changes the ball game for how consumers can interact with the company and what innovations are possible.

Stefan Olander, the company’s director of digital content notes, ‘‘In the past, the product was the end point of the consumer experience. Now it is the starting point.’’ The digital space has opened up infinite avenues for both continuous and dynamically continuous innovation, propelled by both consumer and the brand. A great example of Nike engaging in this space is the Nike + innovation.


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Nike is a fascinating company that has grabbed digital and non-traditional marketing strategy by its fragmented golly wobbles and given it a damn good shake.

So, in honour of my approaching exams (which may or may not be using Nike as a case study), we’re going all Consumer Behaviour on Nike’s digital strategy.  How has Nike successfully leveraged off the tenants of consumer behaviour?  What digital wins and fails can we take out of its story to date? And can I manage to cover all 11 core consumer behaviour topics before my exam on the 12th of June?  Only time will tell… (I’ll be trying to cover off: segmentation, consumer motivation,  personality and self-concept, perception and emotion, learning and memory, attitude formation and change, culture, social influences, diffusion of innovation, situation influences, consumer decision making.  Well, wish me luck.)

image credit: Wieden+Kennedy, London

We all love a company with a humble physical beginning that’s conquered hurdles to be roaring digital success, and Nike has that Hollywood-esque cliché down in spades.  Its first retail outlets were a 1960’s car boot and Phil Knight’s Dad’s basement; today it is the world’s leading sports apparel company.  In the 2011 fiscal year, its sales reached $20.6 billion[i] a full 30% bigger than its closest rival Adidas[ii].  Its digital mojo is huge, with its $100 million plus campaigns using online as the first (and arguably primary) touch point.  As Cendrowski notes “What’s all the more impressive is that Nike shouldn’t be good at this…biggest is rarely the best in the brand game, where niche players routinely run circles around lumbering giants, especially in the new digital world.”[iii]

To put it bluntly, Nike’s digital arse is a global mofo.  Once upon a time, the biggest audience Nike could reach on any one day was 200 million Super Bowl viewers, at absolute maximum, once a year.  Now, across all its digital touch points, it can hit that number any day of the year.  This digital, global audience is very valuable as 58% of Nike’s sales come from the (non-USA) international market[iv].  With such a culturally vast audience, understandings of local-level and global level segments are essential to keeping Nike on top of its game.

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