Great comments add so much to a blog…
Which is why I thank my man, Rory, from Utah, who left this comment upon last week’s “Nike Makeover” post.
“Being that the “Hardcore Skaters” and “Specialty Runners” appear to have the same gripes about the brand. The Nike SB world makes the claim that the SB line is reserved for the most “core” of skate shops, to satisfy the appetite of those not so “core”, they implemented the ever so tragic Nike 6.0.
Should Nike make a similar move with running? Will Nike be selling these new and improved runners in the larger retail establishments or make a run (no pun intended) with the specialty shops? Just a thought to elaborate on the SB thing. “
First off, I was a fan of a couple of facets from the Nike 6.0 line. Yet, those likings were steered to the fit and the overall designs of the line’s casual gear. However, to see the degradation of the brand and the slogans surrounding the brand image throughout the line’s intro was not only contrived, but also a complete sham when you consider that Nike stands for excellence, high performance, and quality…I’m sorry but my heart was broken to see “Loser” attached to the Nike swoosh.
Yes, Nike was trying to hit the mainstream, and yes…I agree with Rory, the effort didn’t work. Which is why this blogga was very impressed with the meeting the skate community with respect by uncovering the true wants and demands of the skate community and taking input on what makes a great line from skaters and shops rather than pushing product out to the community.
From my insight, I believe that the unsung heroes of Nike SB were the sales reps who established the relationships with the hard “core” skate shops. Their bonuses should have extra juice this year…
The Nike reps penetrated a very hard market, convinced small shop owners to invest in their lines, and they listened to the shop’s demands by launching Simply put, Nike SB has implemented a great strategy of penetrating a very fickle and capricious market. The Nike SB launches of top-shelf designed shoes, hip decks, and the bad-ass video of “Nothing but the Truth” have been nothing less than phenomenal. (By the way, pick up “Nothing But The Truth” here from Turntable Lab…Great DVD.)
Now, should Nike Running follow a similar strategy with running specialty shops?…Hell yes.
Like skaters, mainstream runners follow the lead of the hard ‘core’ every day runners. Although there are a lot of runners who hold a heavy allegiance to the brand that suits them whether the brand is New Balance, Mizuno, Asics, or Nike, there is a considerable amount of runners who follow the expert buzzmakers in the running world…The hard ‘core’ local runner, who runs triathlons, half-marathons, marathons, and will travel to collect race bibs.
What will that re-launch strategy entail:
1.) Strong branding and advertising – Nike Running has started the buzz with their launch of “Long Time Coming.”
(By the way, I’ll agree with Lewis Lazard on his B rating for the ad...Call me crazy, but to me, that ad heavily resembles the Michael Mann football ad. Was that really a step away from Wieden+Kennedy?)
I loved the concept of Alberto Salazar’s Oregon Project that is designed to develop great American runners on the International Running circuit. The publicity surrounding Salazar’s life, commitment to the sport of running, the Catholic church, and training has been nothing less than solid. Salazar’s portrayal in SI was incredible. This article from John Brant in this quarter’s NYTimes Play Magazine was rock-solid.
Nike has done an incredible job of penetrating running clubs and targeting the local everyday runner. Every marketing and advertising maven in the country devoured this great article from Louise Story of the NYTimes in October.
Yet, Nike has had a difficult challenge of finding the right superstar to build running in the U.S. From this blogga’s POV, how about just focusing upon the great running clubs and college teams that are running in the Penn Relays and the N.C.A.As that are in their stable? Damn, the stories and strength of the clubs and the teams are amazing. Let’s hear their story. Where’s the running version of “Nothing but the Truth?”
I probably just made some cat in Beaverton a promotion with that one…Damn, at least send me a T-shirt for that one.
2.) Great Sales Representation – If you’re targeting retail specialty running shops, believe me…The retail salespeople better firmly believe and adore your product. If not, your product will take-on water fast..Relationships, relationships, relationships…Why? Relationships sell.
As a long-time retail sales veteran, believe me, if a retail salesperson not only believes in the corporate rep who is either pitching a new product from corporate or an outside vendor, but also has a strong relationship built on trust and respect for the product and salesman’s word, your product is on.
If Nike continues to create relationships in the same way that Nike SB forged, their products will re-emerge. If the reps hold the arrogance that stores should buy their products because of the Nike brand, get ready for the super-sale.
In this area, running shops have raved about the Nike reps. The members of the Chapel Hill High School Cross-Country Team, which is one of the coolest programs that I’ve ever encountered, still rave about the Nike Running reps who visited the school to uncover what makes a great running flat…kudos. These are the relationships built within the local community that work and build consumer loyalty for a long time.
From the opinions of most specialty running shops, Nike reps are strong with product knowledge. More importantly, they listen to the people in the trenches.
The pull of the Nike Shox line from the specialty shops is a solid sign of how their reps listen to the marketplace.
The stronger the people selling the shoes at the retail level believe in the product, the more people will buy into Nike’s new concepts. With the Bowerman Series versions of the Vomero, Zoom, and Pegasus, watch for a strong re-emergence of the Nike running lines that truly are made for hard-core runners.
3.) Commitment to the Bowerman Series – Take it from this blogga…There is a market segment of runners who when discovering a shoe that works for them, will stick to that shoe for a long time. From a personal standpoint, I’m on my third and last pair of Milers.
When I make a purchase next month, I want to make sure that the line is not going to change within six months. The reason for the Bowerman Series was not only for the guarantee that Nike had committed the top research and development for the Series product, but also a commitment that Nike won’t pull the model within two years.
Well, let’s see if Nike stands by the commitment with the downgrading of the Nike Shox product from specialty shops.
Nike has been known to switch up a model design in a heartbeat…Hey, they have to make the numbers, peoples….So, what will people think of the Nike Vomero after they institute the Vomero 3 that has significant changes from the Vomero 2 this year….That’s enough to make a hard-‘core’ runner crazy.
To answer the question of should Nike Running follow the same strategy as Nike Skateboarding? Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nike Skateboarding borrowed their initial strategy of how to work with their shop reps from Nike Running. I don’t think a far stretch would be made to assume that Nike Running will be borrowing-back from Nike SB to change their game.