By Amadeus (first featured Interbrand’s Retail Sector report for BGB 2019)
As part of Best Global Brands 2019, Interbrand (our sister agency) asked a hand-picked set of industry experts to tell us about retail, luxury and more. This is the inside story from President of Nike Direct, Heidi O’Neill.
Q - AS LEADER OF NIKE DIRECT, THE ORGANIZATION RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL NIKE’S PHYSICAL AND DIGITAL RETAIL PROPERTIES, WHAT’S YOUR FOCUS?
In 2017, we shared with the world that we were aligning our business against a new strategy – the Consumer Direct Offense – to better serve consumers more personally and at scale. Delivering for consumers remains my team’s number one job.
Nike has always been known for beautiful and innovative products, rich storytelling and helping athletes achieve their full potential. Our laser focus on serving athletes remains the same.
The step change is serving every athlete around the world personally. It’s creating one-to-one connections and deep relationships that encourage movement and increased access to sport for billions of consumers. It’s giving them the same experiences our elite athletes have always received: coaching, inspiration, and tailored access to the brand.
Q - HOW DOES NIKE SEE SUCCESS WITH THE CONSUMER CONNECTIONS AND LEVELS OF SERVICE YOU DESCRIBE?
It starts with taking the same level of focus and innovation Nike is known for in product and expanding it to include retail concepts, digital products and consumer experiences.
The shift has required an entire mindset change at the company, aligning digital transformation with our purpose of knowing and serving athletes.
That transformation has allowed us to create a membership offering that anchors our relationship with our consumer. Membership is how we get to know our consumer and ensure they are getting the very best of Nike.
They’re afforded early access to product, coaching and support through our training platforms, Nike Training Club and Nike Run Club, access to our Nike Experts that can help them gear-up with the right product, and a suite of new services on the Nike App that light up when they step into one of our stores around the world.
But membership means our consumers expect more of us as well. They expect that we know them and recognize them, so we have to respond to what they tell us by delivering the right product and providing the right recommendations.
Q - IN A TIME OF TECH TRANSFORMATION, WHAT IS ONE THING YOU KNOW TO BE TRUE FOR NIKE?
That we must have a relationship with the consumer. Knowing them, recognizing them, serving them, and rewarding them beyond an individual transaction.
Technology is an incredible asset to achieve those goals at scale, but we always start (as we have since our beginning) with knowing the athlete better and serving them more personally. Knowing our consumers’ passions, dreams and goals allows us to create personal experiences across our stores, digital ecosystem and products. To achieve that we’ve changed how we think about our business and our brand. We’ve made massive investments in technology, retail stores and concepts around the world, and how we create and deliver Nike products.
Q - WHAT INVESTMENTS ARE YOU MAKING IN TECHNOLOGY AND EXPERIENCES TO BETTER SERVE YOUR CUSTOMERS?
We opened three stores that introduced new-to-the-world ways of shopping and experiencing our brand. Two House of Innovation stores, one in Shanghai and one in New York, deliver a rich and immersive way to experience Nike that goes beyond commerce. These stores celebrate our consumers and give them a way to see our latest products and innovations in a way that we’ve never done before. Whether you are on the cutting edge of fashion or an obsessive footballer, our House of Innovation stores have something special for you. Hundreds of thousands of our biggest fans go through those doors each month.
A new concept we call Nike Live has had an incredible pilot in Los Angeles. It is a store that is as personal and responsive as the smartphone in your pocket. We are using data to figure out where our stores would be most useful to our Nike members, merchandise them with the local favorites that are hot in the city, and ensure our stores reflect the needs of the people and the neighborhoods where they are located.
And digital is giving us incredible scale around the world. Our SNKRS platform is creating this amazing community for people to celebrate the passion around sneakers. We’ve expanded the Nike App to 13 new countries in Europe, where we’re seeing great impact in both engagement and impact.
Last summer, Nike Adventure Club launched a subscription shoe service for kids that helps parents with the challenge of keeping growing feet in the right size shoes. It turns out digital solutions can solve very old analog problems. There is no better example of this than Nike Fit. We’ve solved a centuries-old problem of shoe sizing. I think people will be amazed to see the power Nike Fit has to change their shoe shopping experience by ensuring they have the perfect fit every time.
Q - WHAT ARE YOU LEARNING AS YOU BRING NEW RETAIL CONCEPTS AND TECHNOLOGY TO MARKET?
Our consumers’ relationship with sport and shopping is changing. We know that sport is now a lifestyle of movement, play and wellness. And each individual’s journey to sport is incredibly personal and we have to respond to that in a way that gives them the very best we have to offer. We’re creating new technologies and services that respond to the fluid, always-on, shopping experience that people expect.
So both our retail concepts and technology are working together to facilitate connected, personal relationships across our brand, products and stores.
One really great learning is about convenience. We launched ‘reserve in store’ via the Nike app and learned that people want to know that the product they want is there for them when they’re ready. We also learned that Nike is a destination for inspiration and connection to sport. This was an amazing thing to uncover and it simultaneously challenges and rewards us to meet our consumers’ expectations every time – pushing us to think about how we can create a personal relationship whenever they open our app or walk into our stores.
Q - WHAT IS THE BIGGEST OPPORTUNITY FOR NIKE IN THE NEXT YEAR?
At Nike we have a saying that there is no finish line. So I wouldn’t say there is one thing, but rather the opportunity digital gives us to serve every athlete more personally. We want to empower communities around the world as they chase their dreams and pursue sport, while creating greater impact and facilitating access to sport for all athletes. As a former leader of our women’s business, I see opportunity to connect with and help women achieve their dreams rooted in sport, play or wellness.
I also think a lot about the future we’re creating. We have a mission and purpose to unite the world through sport to create healthier individuals and more active communities. As a mother, and as a leader in a position to do something about it, I take our mission seriously.
To read other inspiring articles from the Retail Sector Report, below is a link to Interbrand’s Best Global Brands website: