Some brands strive to win favor with
fashionistas; others cultivate credibility among sports enthusiasts. And then
there’s Nike—the company that established its name
among athletes now hosts runway shows, collaborates with top designers, and
is the most-mentioned fashion brand on
Instagram. It’s invested years of research in creating a new sports
bra, a woven-yarn running shoe, and a soccer cleat that rises above the ankle.
Now, it’s turning up
the focus on the female market.
While the sportswear giant has long
made women’s apparel,
brands like Under Armour (UA) and Lululemon have been far more vocal in their
courtship of women. To woo new women buyers, Nike cast 27 top female athletes
in a runway show, recently opened its first women’s-only retail store, and launched its biggest-ever
female-focused advertising push with the "Better for It"
campaign. The company predicts that its
women's line could add USD $2 billion in additional sales by 2017.
Nike has announced that fiscal 2015
marked its most profitable year ever in North America. It’s also made
inroads in China—where it had
previously struggled with unsold inventory and tame reception to product
launches. Compared to its brand positioning in the U.S. and Europe, Nike has
cultivated a more premium brand in China by reducing inventory and
repositioning its stores. Nike’s second women’s-only retail store is slated to open in Shanghai soon.
Nike continues to adapt its message
of personal empowerment for a new generation. In addition to “Better for It,” there was the whimsical World Cup–themed “Winner Stays On,” a tribute to LeBron James following his NBA defeat, and an
ode to the last-place marathon finisher. The brand also created variations of the iconic "Just
tagline for countries like South Korea,
China, and Turkey.
Change is in the air for Nike.
Earlier this year, cofounder Phil Knight announced plans to retire in 2016.
The man who made “Just Do It”
a household phrase has long claimed
to be in the business of entertainment, a statement he’s backed with eye-catching media
blitzes like the pop-up
City Arena” in
NYC, built to display customized content
and interactive training programs during the NBA All-Star Weekend. New CEO Mark
Parker is expected to continue Knight’s legacy.