Nike: Sport Forever

By Robert Chess, Jeffrey Conn, Lucy Montgomery
2022 | Case No. E690 | Length 16 pgs.
This case examines Nike’s push to broaden its definition of what it means to be a high-performing athlete and develop a sneaker specifically engineered for walking and a luxury apparel line which are both purposefully marketed to an older demographic, a first for the company. The case focuses on legendary sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield’s decision to design a shoe for older athletes after a chance run-in with founder Phil Knight; global president of product, merchandising and design Michael Spillane’s tough decisions regarding marketing the product; and the company’s new product development pathways which allow for faster development, experimentation and market launch. Students will be confronted with numerous concepts including brand strategy, product narrative, market segmentation, direct-to-consumer strategies, and developing products for the older demographic.

Learning Objective

Students will discuss the analysis and conviction required by Spillane in his decision to openly develop and market products to older athletes, risking damage to the brand perception of Nike’s younger primary consumer base. Students will also discuss Nike’s decision to pass on a prior opportunity to develop products for older customers, and why the advent of e-commerce and mobile applications enabled the company to execute on its current strategy.
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