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Nike Builds Brand Loyalty

Nike, ever the innovator, has found a new way to build brand loyalty. It has created a web site, NikePlus.com, that connects runners around the world. This web site tracks a runner’s data and allows a runner to join with other runners all over the world to improve their times.

To make this online group work easily, the company developed a $29 Sport Kit sensor that, when synched with an iPod or Nano, calculates the runner’s speed, mileage and calories burned and provides a method to upload that data to NikePlus.com. The company has sold over a million NikePlus iPod Sport Kits. Runners have used the web site to create groups where members challenge each other to improve their times and distances. Does this work? Well, in 2006, Nike accounted for 48% of all running shoe sales in the U.S. By 2008, its share was up to 61%. At least some of that must be due to the social networking site.

Over the last few years, we have studied several thousand product innovations. We have found that product innovations fall into three major categories: First, you can provide information to your customer; second, you can reduce the resources your customer uses with the product; and, third, you can improve your customer’s experience with the product.

Recently, we developed an article which outlines eleven questions, based on these three categories, that you can use to develop your product innovations. (See “Patterns of Product and Service Innovation” in the Perspectives on StrategyStreet.com.) Nike’s innovation falls under the “improve the customer’s experience” category. Nike has provided a good answer to one of the eleven questions: Can you add to your customer’s sense of pride and well being?

Congratulations, Nike, on another customer insight.

Posted 11/17/08

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