by Maria (first featured in Work in Progress)
10 Years working with Nike, what's changed?
After 10 years working with Nike, Simon Woods (our Associate Director) shares his experiences from working with Nike the last decade.
Q - A decade working with Nike. What’s different from today compared to over 10 years ago?
When I first started working with Nike, their retail environments were defined by overtly sporting elements. For example, the bleacher seating, a staple of any American high school, would be used as a backdrop for their products and environments.
Today, with the huge shift in digital technology, Nike has to keep at the forefront of retail experiences that engage with and benefit from the digital aspect. Their NikePlus (free) membership program allows for a genuine connection for the online and the physical retail experience. (Customers can order online and pick up in a store, or quick-buy there and then and get it couriered for free to home.) The app gives the consumer the choice of how they want to shop and through the membership of this app, it gives Nike the raw data on which they can finesse these experiences.
But the store itself has to engage, excite and demand that people come back again and again. What’s different for Nike, compared to 10 years ago, is that their stores work a complete flexibility. The perimeters, floors and ceilings create a Retail Theatre where the “stage” can accommodate a new product or campaign. And their campaigns are not restricted to just sporting idols, as they were before. Whether it’s drawing inspiration from 3D printing or urban soundscapes, Nike continues to inspire their consumers with innovative products that continue to challenge the public as well as themselves.
Q - Your work with Nike has taken you to London, Paris, Berlin, Dubai … What is your proudest achievement to date?
It’s true that Nike has allowed me to work on some great projects around the globe. However, it is the one closest to home that has challenged me the most and so is my proudest achievement. Niketown London was my first project for the brand and I’m just about to finish the latest episode this summer, when the Women’s Area reopens on the third floor. In all, I have re-worked the ground floor twice, the first and second floors at least three times, and I’m back on third for the first time since we opened up the floor and added new escalators. Ripping out pieces that you put there first time around is hard getting used to, but I’m very excited about how this project is going to turn out!
Q - Brands today can be reluctant to take a strong stance. This isn’t the case for Nike … What inspires you about the brand?
The Nike slogan says it all. Just Do It…
Last year, when they engaged in the Colin Kaepernick campaign they ran a huge financial risk in doing so. Nike knew that some people would boycott their products, but they felt their values for their athletes was the priority. To demonstrate and advocate diversity in an authentic way was always going to be a tough act to pull off, but by doing so, they managed to “introduce ‘Just Do It’ to a new generation of athletes” as Gino Fisanotti, the VP of Brand for North America puts it. And that is how Nike keeps “Doing It” – keeping it relevant for the kids.
Q - Nike’s mission is to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” In the Nike glossary, an athlete is “anybody with a body.” Which means all of us. How can a store bring this message to life?
It’s all about being relevant. As we talked about before, digital technology is so prevalent today, it’s how you can connect that experience within a physical space. By creating “communities” through Nike Plus and promoting them within the store, it gives the consumer a reason to be in the store, and to benefit from those services they wouldn’t necessarily feel they would have warranted.
Not forgetting, it’s the staff who can become the best ambassadors for the brand, and in Nike stores they are called Team Nike. How better to reinforce the sports analogy and to provide inspiration one-on-one?
Q - Nike has been a pioneer in the retail landscape through provocative projects moving the focus away from in-store buying towards digital and experiential. What are your thoughts on how retail is evolving, in general? How do you envision the industry in the next 10 years?
I agree that the shift towards digital and experiential has been massive in the last few years, but in-store buying will not go away. Retail has to create memorable experiences for people and allow them the space to share those experiences. What will become more and more relevant is the influence of political ideology. Gen Z are buying into brands that are transparent in their methods and that commit to good ethics and values. The environment plays a big part in their decisions, and brands will have to create retail environments, and complete ecosystems, that conform to these views. Stand by for new bio-materials to make and display products, as well as zero-emission stores as common as tacky souvenir stores are today.
Photography courtesy of Nike
© Tom Morgan © Simon Woods