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Nike Should Say NIMBY
Liza Amlani --  Retail Strategy Expert Liza Amlani -- Retail Strategy Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Toronto, Ontario
Wednesday, July 3, 2024


Most sports talk shows stink.

There are notable exceptions: Inside the NBA, Pardon the Interruption and First Things First.

First Things First is surging in popularity because of the chemistry between the three hosts and their plethora of running gags. One such gag is when Chris Broussard describes the outcome of a home team getting beaten by an away team as the equivalent of someone coming to your house, kicking up their feet on the table and taking food from your fridge.

If Broussard has been reading the Wall Street Journal lately, he might use his comedic schtick to comment on the following story…

Nike has apparently “missed the running boom” while brands like ON, Hoka, and Asics have capitalized on it. One way these competitors are winning over runners has been to show up in Portland, OR and engage with the running community in Nike’s backyard.

Reps from those competing brands reportedly show up more frequently than those from Nike. Runners comment that Nike doesn’t dominate run culture like it once did. As companies aggressively market on the ground, they can make a move when a runner wants to try something new.

Seems like the home team is having their fridge raided.

Or are they?

Nike’s sales clocked in at $51 Billion in 2023 while competitors like New Balance and ON hit $6.5 billion and (almost) $2 billion respectively.

So, there shouldn’t be much to worry about.

And therein lies the issue.

Open up your copy of Shoe Dog and find the section where Phil Knight writes:

“Some banker, creditor, or competitor may try to stop me, but they’re going to have to bleed to do it.”

It doesn’t seem like competitors today have to sweat all that much, let alone bleed, to take market share.

Consider that when we walked the exhibition floor at The Running Event in 2022, there was a ton of activity and hustle at the ON and Hoka booths. In contrast, the Nike booth was dull, empty and lifeless.

While others gain traction, Nike waffled on a wholesale strategy, makes lame excuses like “remote work stifles creativity” and reportedly has a climate of risk-aversion.

Here’s the deal. If Nike wants to dominate running, it can.

It has the money, the brand power, the talent and a history of winning.

In fact, if it wants to win anywhere, it probably can. For example, the most popular athlete in the US right now is Caitlin Clark. Nike elbowed Adidas, Puma and Under Armour out of the way to make sure she signed with the Swoosh. Nike is also showcasing new innovation under the brightest lights at the Paris Olympics.

So, this isn’t a business issue. Nothing to do with EBITDA or margins or distribution channels or marketing campaigns.

This is about embracing the competitive spirit that carried Nike through its embryonic stages. Having a sense of pride knowing that Nike is the OG of winning the market one customer at a time. Knowing that playing it safe means giving opportunity for the competition to pull ahead.

And that starts with winning in their backyard first.

Retail Strategy Group works with market-leading brands to help them improve profitability and increase organizational effectiveness. For more information, visit www.retailstrategygroup.com.

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