Nike in digital drive

25 May 2012

NEW YORK: Nike, the sportswear giant, is tailoring its marketing strategy to reflect the rise of "global communities" and the "merging" of the physical and digital worlds.

In a recent speech, Charlie Denson, Nike's brand president, quoted some figures that were inspiring this approach, including the fact 3bn people are now under 25 years old. The target Nike customer is the "17-year old athlete", he added.

"Digital is the way of life for our consumers and for generations to come," he continued. "We see a future where technology is infinitely faster and more affordable; where the physical world merges with the digital world."

In demonstration of these shifts, he suggested the typical web user views 2,600 pages a month, there are 5bn mobile phones in circulation, and a similar number of text messages are sent each day.

Looking at social media, he stated 340m posts are made on Twitter, the microblog, every 24 hours. The 900m active members of Facebook also spend 10bn minutes a day on its site, and upload 300m pictures in this period.

"The mobile phone is the new computer. Social is the new operating system. Texting is the new talking. And tweeting is the new channel," he said. "Kids everywhere now have access to the same info instantly, and they're connecting online in real time constantly."

In reaching this audience, Denson argued, it was essential to speak in a language that resonates, alongside supporting the sports they enjoy, and the "dreams they have".

"We need to think about the global communities we collectively represent, and move to connect and inspire everyone who shares a common passion for sports," Denson said.

"Today's youth won't accept to be 'spoken at'. They will only engage when listened to, It has to be a two-way conversation. We have to create relationships that are authentic and personal and deliver experiences young athletes want to have with our brands."

Among the core guidance Denson provided was to "respect the past" while implementing schemes that "change old models and approaches". Firms, he added, would need to "take some risks".

As an example, whereas Nike's innovation used to rest on research with elite athletes gathered at its Sports Research Lab, consumers are playing an increasingly important role in this process.

"Now athletes everywhere want this same coaching and feedback, and they want it instantly," said Denson. "And they all want to share what they're up to with their friends immediately.

"We believe if you can harness the power of data, you can help athletes  improve performance," he added. "We believe those who harness it to deliver young athletes information more intuitively and seamlessly will leap frog where we are today."

Data sourced from Oregon Live; additional content by Warc staff