In 1964, Oregon University track athlete Phil Knight and his coach, Bill Bowerman, set up what is today known as Nike. They had just $1,200 in the bank.
Originally created as Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS), the company that would eventually become Nike first became a distributor for a Japanese shoe company. At the end of their first year in business, they had sold 1,300 pairs of shoes. In their second year, they opened up their very first American retail location in the Golden State of California.
By 1971, the BRS company separated from the Japanese shoe company and in 1974, Nike became established with their trademark Swoosh and registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. By the time the 1980’s rolled in, Nike was firmly established in the American consumer market.
But just how did Nike become so popular? And how did they surpass Adidas – a company that had been established since the 1940’s?
Nike made a profitable association with Wieden Kennedy and implemented various communications and marketing strategies that associated the brand with popular sports games and celebrities.
Why does Nike sell more shoes than Adidas?
In a 2015 American-based study, Nike was discovered to control 62% of the brand share in the United States alone. That’s more than four times the combined value of the second, third, and fourth brands (Skechers, Adidas, Asics)!
According to researchgate.net, Nike raked in almost three and a half billion dollars by the end of financial 2015. The same report puts Nike’s revenue at approximately $30 and a half billion dollars.
Why does Nike sell way more shoes than anyone else by far? It all comes down to brand marketing and the roots that Nike initially set down for the brand. While Adidas and Nike share similar marketing strategies, there are some major differences that have paved the way for Nike’s success.
Are their products that different?
Both of these companies produce sports apparel, footwear and equipment that are almost identical.
Also, while Nike and Adidas share similar marketing strategies, the implementation of these strategies is the pivotal difference.
Differences in Marketing Strategies:
Similarities between the two marketing strategies are evident; both brands invest in sponsoring athletes and large, popular sporting events. They both garnered a large and sturdy support base with the initial sponsoring of many athletes.
But Nike’s exponentially larger success came from how they overcame the 2 doubts that every customer has.
Every potential customer has two main doubts; doubt in the brand/company and doubt in themselves.
1. Doubt In You or Your Brand
Nike currently spends over three billion dollars a year on marketing and Nike is constantly letting potential customers know that there is a newer, better product available. One of Nike’s biggest strategies? Innovation. Nike is constantly revealing new products to the market and any concerns that the potential customer may have is answered with a new product – from sustainability reports and projects to creating shoes with airbags instead of foam (Nike Air Vapormax).
Nike has also put a large spotlight on creating products that enhance athletic performance and through extensive award-winning advertising, makes sure that the market realizes this. Nike has also created a brand following that focuses on improving the overall quality of life and health as well as promoting themselves as a company that wants to help their customers become better at the sports that they are passionate about.
This means that there is no doubt in the minds of customers that Nike aims to push the frontier of athletic products and deliver the best possible sporting products.
Today, Nike is famous for their connection to other widely popular sportsmen and women such as Christiano Ronaldo, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Lebron James and many more – including the sponsorship that ensured Nike would become a famous brand for years to come – Michael Jordan.
Nike’s long-standing affiliation with Michael Jordan is a clear-cut example of how they have used celebrity endorsements to impart credibility and build their brand. In 2016, Nike was worn by U.S Olympic athletes and Nike uses sponsorship to promote their products. (This makes more sense after the above paragraph)
By having celebrities and popular professional athletes use their products, they give a voice, a name, and credibility to their brand.
2. Doubt In Themselves
On of the biggest problems for businesses is the fact that people don’t often believe in themselves. As a brand, this is an issue that can be addressed by using effective marketing techniques; when people (potential customers) do not believe in their own abilities, they will not believe that the product will be able to help them.
The role of the company is to then inspire the people and to make potential clients believe in themselves. Nike executed this in their marketing strategy by developing Nike Run Club (an app for runners), advertising that focuses on inspiring people, and their slogan: “Just do it.”
Once you take a closer look, you begin to see that almost everything about Nike is focused on a brand that was built around promoting the emotional benefits of their products. Through their advertising, Nike does not just sell a shoe, they sell a lifestyle. Nike uses the insecurities of their potential customers and uses the inner aspiration that most have to be better and to live better lives.
Taking a look at many of Nike’s award-winning advertisements, we can see that Nike uses their sponsored celebrities to connect with their audience. By placing these celebrities in the advertisements, Nike taps into the emotional power of the fact that most customers want to be like the celebrities. Customers associate the feelings that the Nike products give them with the feelings that the celebrity gives.
Nike sells more shoes than Adidas because they have established a company that is immediately associated with feelings of well-being, the inspiration to live a healthier life and carefully selected celebrity endorsements.
And the single most powerful strategy Nike has implemented? The focus is on the feeling that the product gives, and not the product itself. Applying this to your own business may be easier than it seems, simply identify what issues you have in your business and address them accordingly. What type of subconscious message are you communicating with your brand?
This is the most powerful issue that you can solve.