Just Globalize It

As many companies do in today’s ever-growing society, Nike sells their products worldwide. There is much more to this than just offering your products in stores across the globe, though. Nike is a company that definitely doesn’t take the idea of global marketing lightly.

If you go to their [US] website, you can click the words United States in the bottom left corner and it will bring up a slew of different options. To be more specific, they have versions of their website for over 40 countries on 4 continents. When I say “versions” of their websites, I mean that they have translated and tailored the marketing and promotional materials on the site for each different country.

As someone who is constantly searching for specific pairs of sneakers, I understand the struggle of going to a foreign website and having to navigate around it by either using Google Translate or simply through trial and error. Nike eliminates this issue for consumers by having so many different versions of their website; in my opinion, this is brilliant. As they always do, they effectively market themselves and make their products easily available to consumers worldwide.

Just Customize It

In this age of the Internet and technology, people will search far and wide to ensure they are getting exactly what they want before they make a purchase. This makes it hard for companies to sell their products because there are so many options available to people nowadays. What can a brand do in order to make sure that ultimately, customers are coming to them for purchases? The answer…customization. Freedom. Expression.

Nike was an innovator in the sense that they were one of the first companies to allow consumers to fully customize their products to tailor them to their liking. Nike’s program, NikeID, allows customers to go online and design a shoe using all sorts of colors, patterns, and materials across hundreds of different sneaker models. Of course, these shoes are more expensive than a pair you can just buy in a store, because they are molded specifically for each customer. The process is also a bit lengthy, it can take up to a few months to finally receive a pair of NikeID sneakers in the mail. The end product, though, is really mesmerizing and gives customers a sense of originality, knowing that they designed the sneakers they are wearing.

Nike has always done a great job of offering a wide variety of products to the public, but they have opened up a whole new world for people that couldn’t a find a Nike product that they liked before. Now there is no issue if you can’t find a sneaker that you like on Nike.com, you can just go design it for yourself! This was definitely an innovative move on Nike’s part, as other companies followed in their footsteps allowing product customization. Other sneaker brands have similar programs now, along with New Era, an extremely popular headwear company. As usual, Nike hit the nail on the head with their NikeID program.

Just Segment It

To be successful in the business world, a company needs to be able to sell their products to different types of people. Companies must segment the markets that they want to target to sell their various products.

Nike has been extremely successful with this, truly being able to market products to all sorts of different people spanning various market segments.

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As you can see in the picture above, Nike markets to different types of athletes…and these are just men’s shoes! On top of these categories, Nike sells a bunch of women’s shoes, kid’s shoes, and sporting equipment and apparel. They market these products differently in order to appeal to the groups of people that have a need for them.

Nike’s versatility as far as their product mix is astounding. They are on the top of their market, not only because they know how to advertise their products effectively, but they really do have something for every single consumer.

Just Fix It

Trying to buy sneakers today can be extremely frustrating. Sure, if you’re not looking for anything in particular you can head into a Foot Locker or Finish Line or something and try a few things on, but if you’re after the same shoe as tons of other people, it’s not that easy. A pair of limited Nike sneakers almost always sells out. Oh, by the way, “limited” usually means a couple hundred thousand pairs, at least. See, limited in this sense really just means that there are more people who want the specific shoes than there are pairs available.

For years, Nike has been the leader in their industry. They’ve been a household name for a long time; popularity has never been an issue. The culture behind their products has changed a lot within the past decade, though. A few years back, let’s say 2005 for example, if I wanted a pair of Jordan’s, I could walk into a store in the mall 2 weeks after they released and get them no problem. Online releases weren’t really something that happened often. Release dates for sneakers were set by the company, but they weren’t publicized. People found out that the shoe released by word of mouth. You’d see them in the window at the mall and call a friend to let the know, it was a domino effect.

Today, it’s quite the opposite. Nike has been flooding the market with sneaker releases, with no sign of slowing down, yet every drop still seems impossible to get your hands on. If you want a pair of sneakers in person, you either have to try to RSVP through Nike’s system via Twitter or line up hours, maybe even days in advance. Want a pair online? Good luck.

There are countless online retailers that you could try to get your sneakers from, but let’s focus just on Nike’s website. Over the past couple of years, Nike has had to modify their online release system multiple times. Every time they come up with something new, the consumers find a way to break the system. There are “bots” that can be installed as extensions to your browser that will add shoes to your cart automatically. After Nike combated that issue, people started making “Add to Cart” services. These people take your information: email, phone number, Nike account info, and the specific sneaker and size that you want, and have a program that adds products to your cart remotely. Nike is currently still trying to combat this.

Last night, Nike had what they call a restock. They tweeted at a random time a few links to pages with multiple sneakers on them. Something around 75 products were restocked last night. They all sold out, of course. This used to be a great way for people to get another chance at the shoes they want, but now even this has become an issue. While people know the original release date of a sneaker, a restock is supposed to be silent. Nike doesn’t announce these things in advance, publicly, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t find out.

I won’t say that Nike isn’t trying to solve these issues, but I will say that they’re not trying nearly hard enough. Every time I try to purchase a sneaker online, I’m prompted with a couple of things:

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This is Nike’s Captcha system. When you visit a product page, select the size you want, and hit “Add to Cart”, you are prompted with this. As you can see, it says 1 of 4, because there are 4 prompts through this system. Nike has also used simple mathematical problems that you have to solve before adding the product to your cart. These are measures to ensure that you are human, but people have coded programs to get around this, of course.

You would think that once you pass that verification, the product will be added to your cart, but it’s not nearly that simple. Once you finish the Captcha crap, you’ll see this:

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This loading screen is a tease. It could sit on your screen for two minutes or two hours depending on the specific sneaker you’re trying to get and how many other people are trying, too. Usually though, it ends in defeat and after a while, this will automatically pop up:

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When you get to this screen, you know that your attempt has been thwarted. The shoe you wanted, or at least the size you wanted, is no longer available. I have seen this screen more times than I care to even think about, as it’s always upsetting and frustrating.

My issue here isn’t the consumer. It’s great that Nike is so popular and their products sell out. As a big supporter and frequent buyer of their products, I’m happy to see and contribute to their success. My issue is that, like I said, Nike isn’t trying hard enough. Along with the fact that they can’t seem to fix the issues of bots, add to cart services, amongst other things, their website constantly has issues with the traffic it gets. According to a quick look at Nike’s Wikipedia page, they made $25.3 BILLION dollars in revenue in 2013. If they can make that much money, they can surely hire a team of people to work on this. It amazes me that over and over again, Nike is outsmarted by their own consumers.

It’s truly a shame when something that is a passion, like collecting sneakers, turns into more of a chore rather than a hobby. The search for a sneaker on release day can go on for hours and often ends with either not getting what you wanted or spending more money than you wanted to buy the sneaker from a reseller. I know I’m not even close to being the only person who’s angry about this. I just don’t understand why Nike can’t fix the fucking problem.

Just Start It

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The Beginning

In 1964, at the University of Oregon, Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman founded a company; they called it Blue Ribbon Sports. Bowerman was the track coach at U of O at the time, and Knight was a student athlete. Initially, they operated as a distributor for another shoe company, selling sneakers out of Knight’s trunk in the parking lot at track meets. Over the course of a few years, sales began to increase, forcing the duo to hire employees, open a retail store in California, and even expand to have some distribution and sales happening over on the East Coast. By 1971, the bond with the company they were distributing for, Onitsuka Tiger, was nearing its end. Knight and Bowerman were planning to release their own line of footwear anyway, so on May 30, 1971, Blue Ribbon Sports officially became Nike, Inc.

A photo of Knight (left) and Bowerman (right).

                     A photo of Knight (left) and Bowerman (right) [date unknown]. 

Since that day, Nike has continued to grow exponentially. By 1980, Nike had attained a 50% market share of the athletic shoe market in the United States. With their continued growth, they eventually moved all central operations to an eight-building headquarters facility in Beaverton, Oregon.

             A bird’s-eye view of Nike’s huge, multi-building headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon .

Today, Nike is a household name that produces and sells more products than ever before. Though they started with just track running shoes, Nike currently makes shoes, jerseys, cleats, apparel, sporting equipment and more for a plethora of different sports. In addition to that, they endorse extremely high-profile athletes. The brand’s “Just Do It” slogan, along with the signature Nike “Swoosh” are staples of not only American culture or athletic culture, but all sorts of cultures around the world. Nike doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon, and will undoubtedly continue to head the market amongst their competitors for quite some time.