In previous years traditional segments targeted by Nike in included elite athletes linked in with their second target of young people and teens. This was built on the basis that young people exhibited a desire to dress casually which mimicked the dress of the elite athletes and those sponsored by Nike. For some years, Nike continued down the sponsorship positioning route, partnering with athletes such as Michael Jordan, David Beckham and Tiger Woods which appealed to the young customer base.
As a large global brand, with more than one segment to target, Nike’s focus currently sits on men, women and children in particular the segments, women, young adults and runners. We retrospectively consider how Nike have targeted and positioned themselves in the segment of women.
TARGETING WOMEN: The Decision Makers
Women purchase or influence the purchase of 80% of consumer goods and services including everything from autos to health care, and spend about $20 trillion annually worldwide (yes, I can attest to this). Women also dominate social sharing and online content creation; according to a report by bazaar voice, women produced 60% of user-generated content in Q2 of 2011 and are generally more positive than men.
Superficial marketing ploys don’t cut it in this segment, brands who are looking at increasing market share have to look beyond to understand that the women’s market isn’t a niche— it’s a driving force.
Already a lucrative segment for Nike, womens business grew 20% in the 2015 financial year. That’s twice the rate of its men’s business, which grew 9% to hit a whopping revenue of $14.7 billion.
Nike commenced strategic targeting of this segment in 2013 with its first exclusive women’s store opening in Newport Beach, California, which was shortly followed by another such store in Shanghai.
THE CAMPAIGN: Better for It
In April of 2015, Nike launched “Better for It“, its largest and most integrated women’s campaign to date. The messaging, acknowledges the average athlete’s insecurities and other obstacles on her way to self-improvement and empowerment through sport and fitness. The basis of the idea is to encourage women to challenge themselves at any point in their fitness journey and push the boundaries of their comfort zones.
At first viewing of this ad, I wondered how they had read my mind (Female, 26 years old, lover of athleisure wear, Master of Marketing student)
POSITIONING: Join the journey
This campaign positions Nike favourably amongst its target segment through a mix of promotion commercial, print ads and digital as well as a series of women’s only events.
Nike Women’s Events Series took off around the world in 2015/16 with running events, fitness events, Nike+ Run Club Races and the five hour long Nike Victory Tour which is featured in the video above. In Sydney the low entry price of $45 per person ($90 for the half marathon at HBF Run for a Reason) the 2016 one off event was a huge success with unique event offerings such as bra fittings, access to trainers and coaches and product testing as well as large amounts of shareable content in photo opportunities, hashtags, stick on tattoos (all featured in the images above).
The stronger the brand exposure in the form of communication, the stronger the association gets (Alba and Hutchinson, 1987; and Aaker, 1991) and the stroger the brand association, the stronger the brand equity. The event gave the segment so many ways to create user generated content and organic posts to share through digital channels, representing Nike as more than just it products, driving the emotional brand connection further.
CHALLENGE: Traditional Segmentation
The Better for It campaign is powered through the Nike+ app and the Nike Training Club where athletes logged their goals and followed training planse. In conjunction with the event, these unique interactions are designed to meet previously ‘unmet’ consumer needs and to build communities around the common motivations. Allan Mitchell, comments that communication was once about changing consumer attitudes and behaviours to meet company’s needs, now we explore consumer needs and connect them to the brand, something that Nike have done really well. Moreover She-economy reported in 2012 that 91% of females believe that advertisers don’t understand them. According to Gemma Charles, Marketers must stop thinking about women in terms of “blunt” demographics and start defining them by their goals.
COMPETITION: Nike lead the pack
Nike (NKE) competitors continues to edge closer, with Lululemon (LULU) and Under Armour (UA) appearing to closing the gap.
Still, it would take years to build the brand that Nike has built. To stay ahead, Nike must continue to launch innovative products and maintain its competitive advantage. In the words of a defeatist the CEO of Under Armour comments “Under Armour needs decades to take out Nike”.
Safe to say that by targeting women, Nike are ‘Better for It’.