NIKE GEARING TOWARD CASUAL FEMALE

Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — After years of pledging its allegiance to hard-core, muscular athletes, Nike is toning down that image to go after more casual female sports enthusiasts.
Six months after setting up its first women’s division, Nike on Monday revealed its new five-tier plan that encompasses print and TV advertising, an inspirational Web site, a quarterly magazine, more directional products and redesigned merchandising to simplify shopping.
Claire Hamill, vice president of Nike’s women’s division, and Jackie Thomas, U.S. women’s marketing director, spearheaded the game plan, by listening to women’s fitness interests and how they fit them into their days.
Knowing that women account for more than 80 percent of activewear purchases, Nike unveiled its new advertising just two days before National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
Designed to break stereotypes about female athletes, the ad campaign features women interested in all different activities. The Everyday Athletes commercials feature a montage of women of all shapes and sizes with voice-overs like: “I wear dresses. I wear muscles.”
Print ads are now running in magazines such as Essence, Sports Illustrated For Women, Self and Glamour.
For this month’s launch of Nike Goddess magazine, a quarterly publication, Olympic track star Marion Jones will visit NikeTown Los Angeles on Feb. 14. In addition to highlighting Nike products, the magazine will offer fitness tips, travel destinations and other information geared to active women. The sneaker giant plans to distribute 200,000 copies of the publication at NikeTowns, The Finish Line and Nordstrom. There are also plans to ship copies to 300,000 select subscribers of Sports Illustrated for Women, InStyle and Teen People.
At the end of last month, Nikegoddess.com launched, featuring profiles about athletes’ hectic schedules, info about fitness activities in different cities and, of course, a link to Nike’s online store. The new Web site also outlines ways for women to get involved by volunteering to coach or working with charitable causes. Nike is developing more fashionable women’s products, like the first slingback cross-trainers, seamless garments to help prevent chaffing and activewear with sewn-in compartments for digital audio players.
Nike’s retail presentation is also being overhauled, with shoe-salon-type display instead of a shoe wall.

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