When Nike launches a new pair of shoes, everyone wants to grab a pair as soon as possible. People queue up at stores and flood online platforms to snag a pair of the coveted kicks. Nike’s Next% is claimed to be the fastest running shoe ever created, allowing those who run in it to run more than 2% faster. For marathon runners, the best runners in the world, 2% can make all the difference between breaking a record or falling agonisingly short.
To build its brand among elite runners, the company first needed to understand what speed meant for runners. For those up front, there is plenty of pride associated with speed, that leads 99% of this group to track their runs in order to do post-run analysis of their progress. Using data collection, Nike was able to give exclusive access to its innovative Next% range to these elite runners.
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Behind them, when it came to hobby runners, or what Nike calls 'everyday runners', what makes a decision of purchase or behaviour change is largely driven by the ‘influencers of speed’ that they follow. In fact, 87% of those in this segment make their decision based on the athletes who already own the product.
By limiting Next%’s sales access to only the fastest runners, Nike could stimulate purchase desire and belief amongst this pack, who were hungry for association with speed, and redirect their interest toward Nike’s entry-level product: Nike Fast Pack.
This shift in approach not only required intelligent use of data to identify and reward the fastest
runners, but also meant that Nike needed to rework its product distribution plan, reserving the product for only the fastest runners. In order to facilitate the reward system and ensure the brand was reaching the fastest runners, Nike integrated Mindshare China's mechanism within the pacing apps used daily by over 24 million runners—YDK, Xiaomi and Yudong—pushing them to go faster.
Across these running platforms Nike used a runner’s speed as a currency to unlock access to Next%. Front Runners with an average pace of 4:55 minutes per kilometre for males and 5:40 minutes per kilometre for females (20% faster than the everyday runners) had the ability to qualify.
Integrating with each apps' tracking technology allowed for easy synchronisation with pace tracking data. Collaborating with running community app Joyrun further enabled Nike to stir interest amongst the running groups with the fastest average paces, elevating desire among the slower paced groups.
In terms of the user journey for the runners Nike engaged, upon clicking the call to action, users were then redirected on different journeys depending on their historical pace data. The fastest runners were directed to a QR code download page which would enable them to proceed with Next%’s purchase, while Everyday Runners were directed to the “Fast Pack” page for an opportunity to purchase Nike’s entry level speed-focused product.
Next%’s business objective was to reinforce Nike’s position as the preferred footwear brand amongst China’s most dedicated runners, measured within their quarterly brand health tracker. Harnessing data and insights, Next% delivered superb results and boosting Nike’s National preferred footwear brand sentiment, boosting Nike’s lead over key competitor Adidas. The campaign’s communication objective was to establish Next% as an icon for speed.
This initiative campaign performed strongly across metrics such as runner engagement and purchase desire through participation Nike engaged with hundreds of thousands of runners on this campaign and a significant chunk demonstrated purchase desire to see if they were fast enough to unlock the Next%. A significant number of top runners also leveraged their speed and timing to unlock these elite running shoes.
And, finally, Nike also built a stronger brand connect with China's aspirational runners and directed them to find out more about the Fast Pack entry level running shoe.
"Nike Next% is a punchy and intelligent campaign that delivered great business results by ruthlessly focusing their investment," a member of the DMA jury commented. "It is a testament to the power of combining a deep consumer insight with precise targeting to deliver a game-changing outcome. Congratulations to Nike for delivering yet another quintessential example of provocative and original thinking."
This work won gold in the Data Analytics / Insights category at the Digital Media Awards.