Be Like Nike

Like a lot of people, the ‘current situation’ has had me dusting off my trainers, and running.

Of course I’ve felt healthier and happier (and as out of shape) as ever before – but I’ve also been struck by some really pretty great digital marketing along the way, through the Nike Run Club app.

Here’s why:

Free postage to Nike Members.

After adding some fresh white socks to my basket I saw: ‘Free Delivery for Members’.

This straight away puts a tangible value on a membership that’s difficult to ignore. It’s almost as though you’re becoming part of an elite club who are far too important to pay delivery costs. As research shows, there is a real power to ‘FREE!’. Used well, the tactic has proven behavioural effects.

Nike now had my money, and my membership in the form of the ‘Nike Run Club.’ What a sucker.

The club.

It goes without saying that the design/build/UX of the app is beautiful and flawless. It’s Nike, after all. But there are a few elements to ‘the club’ that really struck a chord with me.

*Disclaimer – the app is completely free. No joining fees, no upgrade options, no adverts.*

‘adidas Running’… is not. Just saying.

It’s a lifestyle.

Nike sell the lifestyle. The app goes far beyond just running. It offers: guided mediation sessions (partnered with Headspace), live yoga classes, downloadable stencils for spray painting, basketball trick tips etc etc.

Everything is cool, progressive, and forward thinking. It feels like everything a sports-wear brand should be in 2020. Most activities can of course be shared, and you can chat with other members/friends. The word ‘community’ is overused in the biz – but this really feels like a genuine community, for such a global company.

Nike are pioneers of turning sport into a lifestyle brand. If you’ve read ‘Shoe Dog’ by CEO Phil Knight, there is a nice moment of clarity where he recalls the huge spike in sales when they designed trainers to go with jeans, rather than running shorts. The Nike Run Club app certainly aligns with this, and positions themselves as the modern lifestyle brand.

Rewards for being active.

A really impressive feature, is ‘rewards for exercise’. Completed a goal? Beaten your personal best? You’ll receive ‘exclusive’ pre-release codes, member-only products and event invites that are personalised to the individual. There are also discounts through-out your birthday month – a common, but effective tactic, to reach consumers when they’re psychologically more likely to make purchases.

The really smart blend of the physical and digital world really brings the app to life – and is a great example of how brands can reward and inspire all users, and innovate with a typically offline product, in an online space. This feels like the perfect way to bring their brand/consumer values to the surface (‘Nike’, in Greek Mythology is the winged goddess of Victory – fun fact).

Take aways.

What can we take from this? And not just as a company with over 30 billion in the bank…

  1. Reward those you want in your community.

Nike aren’t just preaching to the converted. Not all app users are brand loyalists – maybe they just like to run. By offering rewards for personal progress, Nike target the ‘could be persuaded’ consumers, rather than simply giving stuff away to people who will probably buy it anyway.

Free delivery fees, and the free app itself is a huge selling point in getting these key segments engaged and involved in the first place – which helps to grow: conversions, brand ambassadors and the overall size of ‘the club’.

  1. Empathy.

The app pushes a certain lifestyle. This is partly through well-crafted push notifications, promoting personal progress and the alternative features of the app (the one I got today said: “Bust a move. Are you ready to dance?”). From my five weeks as a user – not one notification has been product-based. They all feel genuine and helpful, with the intention to help the user develop themselves.

Nike really gets under the skin of the user’s shared value which is ultimately, on a human level: personal growth. By being empathetic to this motive – they can provide well-curated, personalised digital content that really fits with this mindset. Rather than just sharing ‘running’ related articles, they understand the context, and base the communications on this deeper thought process, rather than solely a topic.

  1. Saliency.

This isn’t a space in which Nike are trying to appear as ‘better’. Until you drill down, they aren’t overcrowding the app with products, or benefits and features. It’s much wider than that. They’re making sure that when I think ‘running’ – I think Nike. Further than that, I think ‘sports’… I think Nike.

The strategy isn’t to appear better than their competitors – it’s to align themselves with a particular topic, and a particular state of mind. In this case, personal growth.

Studies have shown us that major life events promote brand switches. In fact, those undergoing a life event are about 2.5 times more likely to try a new brand. And collectively, we’re going through quite the life event. Whilst communities are as malleable as ever…now is the time to continue building our digital experiences, to really work on showing users how we can really be a part of their lives, and why our organisations deserve to be engaged with. This way, they’ll be firmly in our ‘club’ when this is all over. I’ll be in the Nike Run Club.

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