As part of its aim to bolster women’s sales from $5 billion to $7 billion in the next two years, Nike will continue to play up the experiential with female consumers.
This story first appeared in the October 28, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
That was the word from Nike Brand president Trevor Edwards. Knowing that powerful ads will no longer cut it with tech-savvy shoppers, the Beaverton, Ore.-based company is focused on real-life tie-ins that will resonate with fitness-minded women.
To encourage training at any hour, the brand has created a workout routine app. Launched in 2011, Nike Training Club, a workout app for women, is available in 17 languages with 100 workouts defined for different goals and now 800,000 workouts and 200,000 programs are committed to each month. In addition, two million workouts have been completed at the company’s live workouts around the world.
Edwards noted that by bringing this movement to life through its own stores as well as retail partners like Macy’s Inc., the company was extending an invitation to women to participate in fitness. To that end, the Nike women’s marathon sells out its 25,000 slots within an hour of opening registration, he said.
Through its social network, Nike has 65 million women who connect with the brand every day and 18 million people have downloaded the Nike women’s training application. Those sorts of connections to consumers should help fuel growth for the brand in the women’s category, according to Edwards. Nike aims to grow its women’s business to $7 billion in sales in the next two years, he said.
That growth will only enhance what he described as “the largest sports and lifestyle business around the world today.”
“The future for us is really about providing women with a seamless opportunity to have great products, great services and great experiences,” said Edwards, adding that the company remains committed to servicing consumers individually, which has been a priority since the company was founded more than 40 years ago.
Asked if Nike faced pushback from female athletes or women’s groups in the wake of the National Football League’s recent domestic violence issues with Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, Edwards said, “It starts off for us in a very basic way. We think domestic violence and abuse of children is absolutely abhorrent, so there’s no tolerance for that. That is absolutely our position. As we were working with the NFL, they recognized that they actually did not deal with it as perfectly as they could and we know that. At the same time, one of the things we recognized as a brand is that sports and athletes have this amazing ability to inspire us at the same time. Whenever we have these issues, we take them on a case-by-case basis…and that is how we worked our way through it.”
Nike no longer works with Rice and Peterson was suspended by Nike.
As for whether the sneaker giant expects a seat at the table as the NFL tries to correct its image problem with women, Edwards said, “We expressed our view very strongly to the NFL. They admitted they had not handled the situation well and they don’t have a clear process within their organization to manage their way through it. Our ceo, Mark Parker, was recently asked a similar question and he was very open about how we cannot tolerate domestic violence or any of these issues that are not only serious for sports but also for society at large.”
Regarding the increasing number of non-athletic brands getting into the “ath-leisure” market, Edwards said, “We don’t think it’s a trend. We think it’s a cultural shift. Sports and fitness have become a part of life. And many others have seen the opportunity to do that. And I do believe that competition is a good thing because it keeps you very focused. We do believe that there are few brands that are able to connect with her in the way we can — the ability to give her innovative products that allow her to be better. At the same time, we give her great services to invite her to the participation of sport. If you go into our stores, we have running clubs and training clubs where women actually participate with the brand. We believe we really have a complete offering for someone who is actually participating in this lifestyle.”