In late 2021 CNBC reported that Nike was quietly preparing for the Metaverse.
This included filing several new trademarks that indicated its intent to make and sell virtual Nike-branded sneakers and apparel.
Tubefilter then explores how the strategy has paid off, describing how Nike partnered with Roblox to launch Nikeland, which is based on its real-life headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, and is stocked with minigames, where users are encouraged to outfit their avatars with digital versions of the newest Nike drops, like Air Force 1 Fontanka and Air Max 2021 sneakers.
The Drum reports how Nikeland saw 7 million visitors over the first two months and to date received over 21 million visitors, contributing to digital sales now representing 26% of its total Nike brand revenue.
In addition to introducing new clothing items, Nikeland has been emulating gaming’s release-and-refresh approach. During NBA All-Star Week, for example, Nike commissioned LeBron James to visit Nikeland, during which time participants were rewarded for physical gameplay with the ability to unlock virtual products.
NFTs and Virtual Sneakers
PSFK provides an analysis of how Nike is integrating digital products into this new environment. Nike purchased RTFKT, a non-fungible token (NFT) studio that produces digital collectibles, including virtual sneakers (just one sold for $186k), and leveraged this capability to launch their highly-hyped first-ever digital speaker drop, the Nike Dunk Genesis CryptoKicks.
A full Web3 experience accompanied the release of the digitally wearable metaverse sneaker NFTs, as Nike leveraged a marketing build-up similar to their massively popular in-real-life product drops and fashion collaborations to promote the direct-to-avatar product.
QZ reports that while they are experiencing challenges for their traditional revenues they are Minting Money in the Metaverse, they are the highest-earning brand in the NFT business, generating over $185m in virtual sales.
Writing for Forbes Bernard Marr describes Nike’s Metaverse and NFT strategy and also critically discusses this within a context of their overall digital strategy, in particular their ‘experiential stores’.
Nike’s latest adventures in digital transformation aren’t solely limited to virtual and digital worlds. Its real-world, bricks ‘n’ mortar stores are also becoming showcases for ways the brand is leveraging new technology.
In its New York flagship store, the idea is that encouraging users to engage with and experience the brand through sport and technology is equally important as encouraging them to buy products. They can shoot hoops on the in-store baseball court, complete with cameras and video screens to capture and playback highlights in real-time. Or they can work up a sweat on a treadmill that simulates running in the great outdoors. They can also customize shoes to look however they like before buying them and get advice from trainers and coaches who are always on hand.
The keyword here is experience. In a world where consumers say that having a positive experience with a brand is more important than factors such as price when it comes to making buying decisions, Nike is hoping that technology will create memorable shopping and leisure experiences that will build strong bonds between customers and the brand. This will mean they will be more likely to look for the famous swoosh logo next time they are in the market for sporting goods – of the real or virtual variety.