Past, Present, and Future of Sports Apparel

Small business owners look into the future to see what they can do to turn their startup company into the next Facebook. Small startups might have big ideas like upgrading to a bigger office or hiring more employees who can take the company further faster. But larger companies though are already there at the brighter future.  So it makes me wonder, do larger companies look at the future differently than smaller companies?

I would think so because the company already knows what to do to keep the company successful. But this probably varies from company to company because it depends on what kind of products the company is making. For example, Apple is probably going to have to continue to make innovative products forever to satisfy its consumers, like me. Apple probably has to always think and acts like a startup. But what does a big clothing company like Nike do to keep the brand relevant and successful for the future?

In my personal opinion innovation continues to make Nike a stand out among its competitors and that is what the company is going to need to continue to do. For example, Nike FlyKnit shoes are the lightest shoes out on the market. It personally feels like I am wearing my socks around, but it is innovations like that will continue to keep Nike one step ahead of the competition.

When Nike created the FuelBand, that piece of technology has put the company in a league of its own. Not only is the company making innovative athletic apparel but Nike is also making a name for itself in the technology game. I believe that in Nike’s future, the FuelBand will be more powerful than it is now. I could see the Nike FuelBand becoming something like the Samsung Gear or the rumored Apple iWatch. That kind of continuing pursuit of innovation keeps the big companies like Nike out there on the edge.

Another big thing for Nike is to try and stay away from controversy as much as possible. There was no way that the company could have known that the Boston bombings were going to happen, so the company handled the situation by getting rid of the Boston Massacre t-shirts. But publishing advertisements showing Tiger Woods saying “Winning Takes Care of Anything.” This obviously makes people think, “well you can cheat on your wife but if you win, everything will be fine.” A situation like this is easily avoidable, all the company needs to do is double check the ad before it goes to print and really ask the question, “Is this okay?”

Even though Nike has faced controversy over the years, the company has handled it head on. Over all I feel like Nike has done a great job and will continue to be the best athletic apparel company in the world. It was a great learning experience being able to research and blog about such an iconic company.

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Which Perception Will You Choose?

When I think about Nike, I think of a very successful athletic apparel company that has led the way through its innovative shoe designs and durability of its products. As a consumer you know that when you buy Nike, you are buying the best athletic apparel on the market. But I realize some people out there may have a somewhat different perspective of Nike then mine looks. Part of the controversy around the Nike brand has its use of sweatshops in other countries and the treatment of workers in those sweatshops. This is the most common international perception this is the most common international perception of Nike as a company and brand.

When I hear about Nike’s failure to grow as a business in China, I can’t say that I am too surprised because of all the backlash on sweatshop labor. This is the perception of the company that Nike and all of its employees don’t want to hear. One way that Nike has countered this problem is by releasing a document that stated the wages the employees made, hours worked, and the conditions in which they worked in (this was also mentioned previously in a blog posted about the companies controversies). This document shows that Nike has nothing to hide, which should increase the company’s perceptions of the company as a successful athletic apparel company and not a sweatshop company.

My guess is that from Nike’s point of view, the company would like to be known internationally for having the most innovative shoe designs and the most durable products that the athletic apparel industry has to offer. These happen to be the company’s goals and pursuing these goals has made Nike the worlds largest sports apparel company.  As of late September this year Nike had reported that the company had seen a growth in revenue in every region in which its products are sold with the one exception, China. Nike actually saw a decrease in revenue when it came to sale in China. On this point Nike CEO, Mark Parker said, “The race in China is a marathon, not a sprint, and we’re set up for the long run.”

There will always be people out there in this world that hate Nike as a company because they feel Nike continues to use sweatshop facilities and no matter what the business reasons, these people feel Nike shouldn’t be doing this in the first place. There will always be a perception of Nike that the company can never run away from no matter what they do. Even though Nike will always use factories overseas, this will never stop them from continuing to be on the Forbes 500 list. The company will always be known as a successful company and the world’s leading athletic apparel manufacturing company. Which perception will you choose?

Resources:

Wallace, G. (2013, September 26). Nike earnings just did it. CNNMoney. Retrieved November 14, 2013, from http://money.cnn.com/2013/09/26/investing/nike-earnings/

So Many Demographics, So Little Time

It’s a chilly fall day and the wind is blowing kind of hard, the leaves are changing colors and falling off the trees, and the skies are dark from the rain that has been moving through. You may say to yourself that this might be a great day to just stay inside and cuddle under a blanket and watch movies but you forgot one thing, It’s Tuesday morning and you have class in an hour. Now here is a question, what do we usually see college students wearing when they walk to class early in the mornings? Sweatpants or hoodies, am I right?

This is the typical college apparel and that is for a reason. It is because it is easier for us college kids to get ready and we want to feel comfortable in the clothes that we wear. When you look at a college campus, the majority of the students are wearing sweatpants and hoodies especially in the winter months. I know for me personally, I would love to walk around in Nike sweatpants and hoodies all day, every day.

When you look at Nike’s age demographic, college aged young adults fall right at the beginning of that chart. Nike’s age demographic ranges from 18-65 and the most of the company’s consumers come from the teenage years. But within this broad demographic, there are more specific ones. When we talk about teens, Nike targets those who are either athletic/sporty or those teens who wear Nike as a fashion statement. For example, Nike has its skateboarding line with sponsored skaters who have their own clothing products such as Paul Rodriguez. This product line targets the obvious demographic, skateboarders but there are also teens that wear these products for fashion.

Nike is known for making products for all different types of sports and with each sport that the company makes products for there are different target demographics. This demographic may all be athletes but all of these athletes have different types of equipment that only pertains to that specific sport. For example, Nike makes football equipment but a basketball player will not likely be buying football cleat as an option of foot wear.

But since Nike is an internationally recognized company, Nike’s demographics tend to reflect which sports are more popular in different countries. For example, overseas in Europe “American” football apparel or equipment would not be a hot selling item. But “European” futball, otherwise known here as soccer, would sell well because it is more popular.

Nike is not a company that has a specific demographic like a children’s toy would. This great company may have a fairly broad and generic age demographic for its products but when you start to get into specific sports and regions of the world, it becomes a whole new ball game.

It’s All In The Logo

Imagery is used to help sell a product to its consumer. When it comes to clothing companies, the imagery that sticks out to the consumer is not the shoes or the hoodies but the logo that is stitched on to the article of clothing. For Nike, the “Swoosh” is much more than a logo, it tells the consumer everything that the company stands for. When the consumer sees the Nike “Swoosh”, he knows that he is buying a top of the line product that is known for its quality and the innovation/ technology that is behind the making of that product.

I love Nike products, I guess you could say that I am a walking billboard for the company, but isn’t this what Nike wants? People like me who love Nike products so much, that we are providing free advertising for the company. What attracts the consumer to the product is the design that is shown on the clothing item. The patterns can be cool and colorful or simplistic and plain but the one thing that these clothing items have in common is the logo. When consumers see that iconic logo they know that the product that they are getting will be the best quality on the market.

When you look at Nike’s commercials what stands out to you the most? Is it the product or is it the logo?

My guess is that most of you would say the logo, and that’s not by accident. Nike wants the consumer to love the article of clothing that they are buying but the company also wants other people, other consumers, to know that this is a Nike product. Nike is effectively making each of its consumers into walking spokesperson for the brand.

Another important piece of imagery that Nike uses is athletes. These athletes don’t have to be famous, although Nike does have advertisements of famous athletes; the focus on athletes allows Nike to show the product in use; whether the product is being shown by an athlete just wearing the clothing (print) or the clothing is being shown put through a work out (video). I would say that besides the Nike logo, the use of athletes and the company’s focus on products are the most used images for the brand. The logo is an obvious piece of imagery because it is put on the clothing. But the use of athletes makes sense because Nike makes athletic apparel so it would only make sense to use athletes to advertise its products. Other images that would make sense for Nike would be athletic facilities such as gyms and fields.Although athletes are an important part of Nike’s imagery, how we see that brought to life is by seeing the logo prominently on the athlete’s clothing and gear. So, it’s no surprise to me as I sit here on my couch and watch the World Series, I can’t help but notice the Nike “Swoosh”.

Photo Courtesy Of: http://files.coloribus.com/files/adsarchive/part_1151/11517355/file/nike-sparq-lindsey-tarpley-small-38820.jpg

and http://welcometothealist.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/nike-trainer-one-the-ultimate-quick-fix3.jpeg

Can’t Run From Controversy

Nike is a well recognized and incredibly successful company but not everything that is perfect stays that way. Nike has run into its fair share of controversies over the years, some being simple fixes and others that will continue to put the company in the spot light.

There are some controversies that Nike could have easily avoided. When Tiger Woods recaptured the world’s number one in golf Nike released a print advertisement saying that he was back at the top. However, the way this was done could have been handled a little differently. The print advertisement read, “Winning takes care of everything.” Wait a minute now, winning takes care of everything? So even though Woods cheated on his wife with prostitutes and stripers, is Nike now saying that’s all okay because he recaptured the world’s number one ranking? Do you see how Nike kind of shot itself in the foot?

On the other hand, there are times where Nike was thrown into a controversial position just because sometimes things happen that are beyond our control.

The Nike “Boston Massacre” shirts were made well before the bombing of the Boston Marathon. The shirts were made in sport to promote the rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Unfortunately, the shirts were on the shelves for a time after the traumatic bombing and the public naturally felt hurt and upset. The way Nike handled the situation was to pull all of those shirts off the shelves and is no longer selling the shirts.

But when you think Nike, these aren’t the controversies you think of, right? If I asked you to say the first thing that came to mind when I said Nike what would your response be? Sweatshops. Nike has been nailed for its use of sweatshops around the world. Employees are paid less than minimum wage, the guards beat the workers, workers are not paid overtime, and the list goes on.

For Nike, the company’s problems started in the early 1990’s when Jeff Ballinger published a report about the factory workers’ low wages and poor working conditions. From there it went downhill for Nike as reports of the exact amount the workers are paid, the conditions, and other issues of abuse all start to come into public light. In the mid 1990’s, Nike started to make a change for the better. The company established a task force to help improve its factories. The company increased wages and adapted clean air standards in all factories. And then to put the icing on the cake, Nike published a 108-page, detailed report of all of its factories for people to read if they want to know more about what’s going on.

Nike, which has always been in the spotlight for being a “sweatshop” company, has turned around its image because of its proactive approach to addressing controversies.

 

 

Bagg, M. (2013, April 22). Boston Massacre Nike T-shirt controversy: Nike pulls shirt after complaints, reports say. News, Weather, Video | West Palm Beach News, South Florida Breaking News, Video from WPTV Newschannel 5. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/local_news/water_cooler/boston-massacre-nike-t-shirt-controversy-nike-pulls-shirt-after-complaints-reports-say

Nike causes controversy with Tiger’s ‘winning takes care of everything’ ad | New York Post. (2013, March 26). New York Post. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from http://nypost.com/2013/03/26/nike-causes-controversy-with-tigers-winning-takes-care-of-everything-ad/

Nisen, M. (2013, May 9). How Nike solved its sweatshop problem – Business Insider. Business Insider. Retrieved October 10, 2013, from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-nike-solved-its-sweatshop-problem-2013-5

The Evolution of Nike

 

Go back and look at the first shoe that Nike ever made, and now look at your feet. See a difference? The shoe industry itsself changed over the years but the company leading the pack was Nike. Starting with your basic running shoe, Nike and its founders strived to make a shoe that was lightweight, durable, and that would fit to the runner’s feet. Making shoes lightweight back then, and still today, is an innovative part of the shoe industry. It is coming to the point where Nike is producing shoes like the Flyknit that feel like you are just wearing socks. Nike gets rid of parts of the shoe that aren’t needed in order to give the consumer the best running experience out there.

Nike is not just a shoe company anymore; it is a clothing company now. The company launched its first clothing line in 1979 and now Nike is making everything from shoes to hoodies. But the company hasn’t stopped there; Nike is now in the digital game when having announced the Nike FuelBand in 2012. The FuelBand is a bracelet that can track your activities and let the athlete know (Nike’s philosophy is that if you have a body, you’re an athlete) how many calories he/she is burning or how far he/she has walked/run in the day.

But this isn’t the only thing that has changed over the years. The Nike logo has changed as well. The swoosh has always been incorporated into the logo but throughout the years there have been minor changes to it.

Looking at the original logo shown in the photo from 1971, the company name “Nike” is shown running right through the swoosh and the font which is used is more of a script. The next logo change came in 1979, where the company moves the company name up and changed the font to something cleaner. In 1985, the logo stayed the same but the only difference was adding color to make it stand out a little more. And the final change that was made was eliminating the company and presenting the swoosh alone, which has made Nike so recognizable. Really there is no need to ever change the Nike logo; you simply don’t need to fix something that was never broken.

I see the Nike brand changing as the years go on but the changes I see are what it has been doing all along, innovative changes. Whether the innovative change comes from a new technology to make shoes and clothes lighter for enhanced performance or a new way to outdo the competition with something like the FuelBand. Innovation is what separates Nike from its competitors but it is also what will always make the consumer remember the brand.

 

 

History of NIKE, Inc. – FundingUniverse. (n.d.). Find Funding with Banks, Investors, and Other Funding Sources | FundingUniverse. Retrieved October 4, 2013, from http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/nike-inc-history/

Growing Since 1964

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When you walk around and you see people in athletic appeal, what is the brand that they are wearing? Most of the time the athletic brand that you will see people wearing is Nike.  Now you might be someone who looks at the stock market religiously like I do, so you have seen that Nike’s stock is trading at just under $70 a share but Nike’s share, since 2009 has been trading 3 times better than the rest of the S&P 500. This is because Nike makes cool innovative athletic appeal that will cover anyone from head to toe. That innovative edge, has given the company the ability to generate over $25 billion in revenue since the company’s existence in 1964. Having a number like this ranks Nike at number 126 on the Fortune 500 list of top companies. In fact, Nike is the only athletic apparel company on that distinguished list; you won’t find Adidas, Reebok, New Balance, Puma, or Asics there.

“It took us 18 years to get to our first $2 billion in revenue. We added about that much in just the last 12 months,” said Nike CEO and President, Mark Parker.  Hearing this from Parker really shows you where Nike came from. From when the company was just forming to where it is are now and it is because of its innovative appeal to its consumers. Ever since Nike was officially a company, it has been making reliable, cool, and innovative products that keep the consumer coming back for more. If Nike didn’t create such innovative and reliable products, there wouldn’t be such a demand and the consumer would go to a competitor. I am one of those people who love Nike and all the products that it creates because all the innovative things that it is are doing makes it hard for any other company to compete. When you put yourself so far ahead of the pack, you have to continue to make yourself stand out and Nike does that.

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Since Parker took over as CEO in 2006, Nike’s revenue value has increased over 60% and profits have increased close to 60% as well. Innovation has brought Nike a long way. Take the Nike FuelBand for example; the Nike FuelBand is a bracelet that that monitors your movements whether you are walking around campus or going for a run. The FuelBand tells you how many calories you have burned and color codes if you have met your daily calorie goal or not. Being able to share the points that you have earned online, shows that Nike has made a push to be a digital force and will continue to make strides to revamp and make the FuelBand even more innovative. Innovation like the FuelBand has made Nike the successful company that it is because it continues to come out with new and cool products that get the consumer to go out a buy and feel great about their purchase.

Carr, A. (n.d.). Nike: The No. 1 Most Innovative Company Of 2013 | Fast Company | Business + Innovation. Fast Company | Business + Innovation. Retrieved September 26, 2013, from http://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2013/nike

Fortune 500 2013: Annual ranking of America’s largest corporations from Fortune Magazine. (n.d.). CNNMoney – Business, financial and personal finance news. Retrieved September 26, 2013, from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/?iid=F500_lp_header

Parker, M. (2013, July 22). NIKE FY2013 Annual Report. NIKE, Inc. – Investor Relations – . Retrieved September 26, 2013, from http://investors.nikeinc.com/files/doc_financials/AnnualReports/2013/index.html

Photo’s courtesy of:

Think Innovation, Think Values

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The image above is Nike’s mission statement that they have posted on their website (the asterisk in the mission statement says “if you have a body, you’re an athlete”). I feel that this mission statement is very truthful to the products that the company produces. Since Nike made its first shoe, the company has been coming up with new innovative technologies that in the end makes its products lighter and more durable but also giving the consumer the top of the line quality products day in and day out.

But when Nike operates, these are not the only guidelines that the company follows. Nike also has a whole set of core values that it want the company and its employees to follow; from the factory workers to the company executives. Nike has what it calls “11 maxims” that make up the companies core values and I will pin point which ones that I think are the most important.

The first maxim on the list of 11 is “it is our nature to innovate.” Innovation is key in any industry because this is what can set you apart from the pack. Nike has been setting itself apart from the pack ever since the beginning. As mentioned in the first blog about the history of the company, Fast Company named Nike to be the number one innovative company of 2013.

The next core value that I think is the most important is “Nike is a brand.” One of the reasons why Nike is so successful is because it realizes that its logo is so global. The Nike ‘Swoosh” is so recognizable that no matter what culture you live in, if someone sees the “swoosh” they automatically know that this is a product made for quality.

Always “do the right thing” is the next important maxim I see on Nike’s core values list. Nike encourages its workers, from the executives to the factory workers; to be responsible and honest, and to promote diversity, and sustainability. In a time where everyone is thinking about going green, Nike has a program called Reuse-A-Shoe, where anyone can recycle their old shoes at over 350 retail stores world wide. Through this program, Nike states that, since the 1990’s, 25 million pairs of shoes have been recycled through this program. You can learn more about this program by visiting http://www.nikeresponsibility.com

The last core value that I thought was important was “we are on the offensive—always.” In order to the be the best and stay the best, Nike wants its employees to act like the leaders they want to be for their area. Nike has been has been at the top because of how innovative it is, the innovation is what is going to keep the company at the top.

Carr, A. (2013, February 11). Nike: The No. 1 Most Innovative Company Of 2013 | Fast Company | Business + Innovation. Fast Company | Business + Innovation. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from http://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2013/nike

Farfan, B. (n.d.). Nike Company Mission Statement – What Is the Corporate Mission, Vision, Values, Headquarters, History, Founders Facts, and Trivia About the Nike Corporation and Retail Stores Chain – Nike’s Mission of Inspiration, Innovation for Athletes. Retail Industry – Retail Stores, Sales, Management, Marketing, Jobs, Companies, Trends and Analysis in the U.S. and Global Retail Industry. Retrieved September 19, 2013, from http://retailindustry.about.com/od/retailbestpractices/ig/Company-Mission-Statements/Nike-Company-Mission-Statement.htm

NIKE, Inc. – About NIKE, Inc.. (n.d.). NIKE, Inc. – The official corporate website for Nike and its affiliate brands.. Retrieved September 19, 2013, from http://nikeinc.com/pages/about-nike-inc

NIKE, Inc. – The Journey. (n.d.). NIKE, Inc. – The Journey. Retrieved September 19, 2013, from http://www.nikeresponsibility.com/#how-we-work

Photo courtesy of: http://www.brandstories.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Nike-OurMission_large.jpg

Before The “Swoosh”

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Nike is one of the most iconic companies in the world. Selling clothing products, from shoes to hoodies to people of all ages, Nike has developed incredible and innovative technologies over the years in order to make, its particular brand of shoes and apparel lighter and more durable. Developing all these new technologies, like the Flyknit Racer shoe is what inspires analysts like Fast Company to list Nike as the number one most innovative company of 2013. So how did this company, that is this successful and incredibly innovative, get its start?

In order to find out where the company started, we first have to take a trip back in time, back to the 1950’s at the University of Oregon. At that, time the Ducks track and field head coach was Bill Bowerman. Bowerman, like every coach, was looking for a way to give his players a competitive edge (pre steroid era) but nothing was doing the trick. This is where, Bowerman’s future partner in the company, Phil Knight, comes into the picture. Knight was a distributer for a shoe company based out of Japan. Having his designs turned down by shoe companies in the states, Bowerman saw the opportunity to partner up with Knight when he came to the university to sell shoes. When agreeing to become partners both Bowerman and Knight, created a shoe store called Blue Ribbon Sports, which opened in 1964.

After a year of operations Bowerman and Knight added their first employee, Jeff Johnson in 1965. Over the years Johnson was responsible for everything, you could say that he was a jack-of-all-trades. He did everything from doing the marketing and advertising to doing the shipping for Blue Ribbon Sports in the later years. Johnson was also responsible for coming up with “Nike” to use as the company name.

A few years later the company called upon Carolyn Davidson who was a student at Portland State University to create their logo. In 1972, she created what is known today as the Nike “Swoosh”. After seeing tons of sketches from Davidson, the team decided that this would become the company logo. Interestingly, Phil Knight was not initially a fan of the design. In an early interview he said, “Well, I don’t love it, but maybe it will grow on me.” Seeing a simple black check mark might not be what the three men where hoping for at first but what they got was one of the most recognizable logos of all time. The “Swoosh” has been Nike’s logo for little over 40 years now and hasn’t changed since its creation in 1972.

Fun fact: Carolyn Davidson was paid $35 for her Nike “Swoosh” design. In 1983 she was given 500 shares of stock in the company as additional compensation for her work.

Brettman, A. (2011, June 15). Creator of Nike’s famed Swoosh remembers its conception 40 years later | OregonLive.com. Oregon Local News, Breaking News, Sports & Weather – OregonLive.com. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ss

Carr, A. (2013, February 11). Nike: The No. 1 Most Innovative Company Of 2013 | Fast Company | Business + Innovation. Fast Company | Business + Innovation. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from http://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2013/nike

NIKE, Inc. – History & Heritage. (n.d.). NIKE, Inc. – The official corporate website for Nike and its affiliate brands.. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from http://nikeinc.com/pages/history-heritage

Photo courtesy of: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_zed3zsLtkc/URgON8K1lZI/AAAAAAAAQds/pNLfDo1yva4/s1600/Nike+Logo.jpg