Customer Engagement Love Story: Nike

Sam Langrock Apr 18, 2018

Nike doesn’t just create some of the best products in the athletic footwear and apparel industry. They also motivate and engage their customers in a personalized way that develops meaningful loyalty. While we can’t help other organizations come up with the next Air Max technology, we can help them be more like Nike when it comes to the way they engage customers. Keep reading to learn four tactics Nike is employing to develop loyal customers and takeaways marketers can use to apply to their own companies. Just do it!

Personalized Recommendations/Offers

One of the features that has made companies like Amazon and Spotify so successful is their ability to recommend relevant products based on past purchases. Nike is another company flourishing in this area. In the Nike+ app users are provided with “Featured Picks”, items that the consumer is most likely to purchase based on customer data and purchase history. They’ll even go as far as to reserve gear and experiences that the data shows a person will have a high affinity for. The consumer can then easily purchase through the app. Relevant product recommendations plus ease of purchase gives Nike the chance to increase recency, frequency and customer spend.

With every customer interaction, Nike is able to learn more about a user’s preferences and provide smarter recommendations. Recent data breaches at top brands have made some consumers reluctant to give up their data; however, Salesforce found that 57% of consumers say they’re willing to share personal data in exchange for personalized offers or discounts.

Excellent Customer Service

Nike may be a global mega brand, but they’re not using name recognition as an excuse to deliver mediocre customer service — quite the opposite actually. Nike does an incredible job of leveraging social media to make sure all support questions are answered in an informative, timely and most importantly, friendly way. Their @NikeSupport Twitter account operates 24/7 and responds to questions in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian and German. A necessity for a global brand, but still one that shows Nike isn’t willing to cut corners when it comes to helping customers.

Another case of Nike’s exceptional customer service is a story of this Nike+ user who was having difficulties with the app. Two hours after complaining via twitter he received a direct message from Nike’s Director of Engineering, who not only responded with an answer, but even created a new update that would make sure this problem wouldn’t arise again. Nike might be a massive global brand, but they make sure their customers are taken care of the same way a local shop might.


Non-Transactional Behaviors

In November 2017, Nike introduced a series of new benefits for Nike+ users. Using members’ interests and goals, Nike provides access to music, guided meditation and fitness classes, as well as exclusive gear, on the premise that the more active someone is on the Nike+ app, the more they will be rewarded. For Nike the ultimate goal is to create a personalized experience for members that seamlessly combines digital and physical interactions. Acknowledging these behaviors and making it easy for users to earn and receive their rewards enables brands to engage with customers between transactions and increases the likelihood a customer will make a purchase from them (instead of a competitor) in the near future.

Another tactic that Nike has used to reward consumers for a non-purchase behavior is to invite consumers to attempt to run a sub-25-minute 5K through the Nike+ app. Those that were able to run the distance under the time cap were awarded with early access to a pair of Nike Zoom Fly trainers. While it’d be nice to have some scaled options so that everyone can compete, Nike certainly knows how to play to our inner-competitiveness. Also kudos to them for getting us off the couch and exercising.


Nike is in the process of building a new flagship store in Manhattan. While the store in and of itself is news, the aspect drawing the most attention, the 5th floor, is exclusive to Nike+ members. This floor will be home to special gear, events and and one-on-one assessments by Nike experts. Membership for Nike+ is free, but the creation of this exclusive floor provides a strong incentive for those that are not a member to become one. Getting customers to lean in and identify themselves is a difficult hurdle to clear. However, when done correctly it equips companies with the information necessary to provide the kind of engagements that lead to stronger and more profitable customer relationships.

Exclusivity has changed in the marketing world, and for good reason. In the past, customers had to pay to be part of a company’s ‘VIP’ program. Nowadays the loyalty and rewards programs that are finding the most success have a reciprocal value exchange. This is due in large part to the willingness of customers to give up information about their habits, preferences and behaviors in order to receive personalized offers, recommendations and experiences.

Nike may be most well known for their superior products and awe-inspiring advertising, but a powerful component of their success is the ability to engage with customers. They do this efficiently, at the right time and provide meaningful incentives to get customers to share more of their data. To reach the heights of Nike and other brands like Amazon and Starbucks, organizations need to follow suit. By leveraging technology that enables a 360-degree view of the customer, brands will be able to eliminate the bottlenecks and data silos holding them back from viewing customer behavior in context, creating new experiences and executing the next best action.