January 1964 might not mean anything to you, but it strikes a chord with the co-founders of a company called Blue ribbon, the company we now know today as Nike. Down at the University of Oregon, a track athlete Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman agreed to become partners in a shoe distribution business which initially operated as a distribution company for a Japanese shoemaker.
Now a 36 billion dollars (in revenue) company, one of the secrets to Nike’s domination, right from the get-go, is the ability to include the needs of their customers throughout their production cycle.
Image source: Nike Lab
Nike has always been a brand that evolves and not just for the sake of evolving but to provide its customers with products and experiences that offer them great value.
We know that Nike wasn't the first to the shoe manufacturing industry neither were they even the second, but what has made them such a great brand?
A major strategy the people at Nike employed, right from the get-go, was to find out what their customers really liked and ways they could constantly test out new ideas with them. You see, Nike started out primarily with the goal of reaching athletes. And seeing as one of the founders was a coach, every time they had an idea for a new shoe, they built a prototype and gave it to young athletes in schools to try out and give them feedback. Even to this day, concepts are continuously being tried within the Nike Lab.
This is done because Nike believes in being specific in that they design based on pain points that they have discovered customers face. With its over 73,000 employees around the world, it has found a way to develop products that are rooted in the cultural values and aspirations of whatever host community it is selling to.
By collaborating with other local designers who are talented and are able to translate their experiences and insights into successful products, Nike is able to create lots of interesting products that have made consumers worldwide loyal to the brand. That, of course, in addition to its stellar branding and marketing strategy.
How can you emulate Nike's winning game plan to use in your Business?
Many companies and business owners do not see the need to know their customers and by know, I mean everything that drives them even when it doesn't directly connect with your product. This will help you find gaps where your products can perfectly fit into your customer's lives and solve specific issues they might have had or still have. This helps you develop a business that is driven by customers loyalty.
Create a system for continuous testing and iterating of your products or services, based on customer feedback. Nike lab was built for that. Nikelab is a place where Nike showcases its anticipated products and a means for them to collaborate with other innovators, presenting to their customers an expanded product base that broadens their customer’s experience.
Through testing with customers and even collaborating with locals to iterate, Nike has built an incredible and lucrative business.
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