Nike’s work with the WNBA is just one example of a growing list of moves the retailer is making to show it can cater to women more than it has in the past. And as Nike is looking for new pockets of growth in North America, women’s could be one of them. But it won’t be a guaranteed success overnight.
“It’s very hard for a company like Nike … that’s very male, macho … to make the turn” to focus more on women, said Erich Joachimsthaler, CEO and founder of branding agency Vivaldi. “In all due respect, they’ve done a lot to try to do it, though. I have to give them a lot of credit.”
To amass more female customers, and keep them loyal, Nike should stay on the course of being an “inspirational” brand, Joachimsthaler said. “Targeting women is very different. You can’t just rely on the major sports. … They have to be more approachable.”
Nike is taking steps to do just that.
It has rolled out dozens of new styles of sports bras in extended sizes, added a new line of yoga pants and outfitted 14 of the two dozen national teams playing in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer. Perhaps most notably, it launched the “Dream Crazier” ad campaign in February starring Serena Williams to acknowledge female athletes like gymnast Simone Biles who arguably don’t receive as much acclaim as men for their achievements.
“There is momentum right now around women in sport,” St. Clair said. “We want to be inspiring, and we also want to invest [in the opportunity]. … We have made some edits and shifts within Nike to get after that opportunity.”
In the video with Williams, which quickly went viral when it was debuted during the Oscars, the tennis champion says: “If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic. If we want to play against men, we’re nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, delusional. When we stand for something, we’re unhinged. When we’re too good, there’s something wrong with us. And if we get angry, we’re hysterical, irrational, or just being crazy. … So if they want to call you crazy, fine, show them what crazy can do.”
“That really has been a call to action internally … and among consumers,” St. Clair said about the response to the ad, which became the No. 1 most-engaged film Nike has ever made.