Nike's new app will get to know you -- intimately
There is a scene in the 2002 sci-fi film "Minority Report," set in the year 2054, in which Tom Cruise walks into a Gap store and a sensor scans his retina, then greets him, "Hello, Mr. Yakamoto, welcome back to The Gap! How did those assorted tank tops work out for you?"
The new Nike+ app is going to bring that scenario one step closer to reality.
Nike (NKE) says the app "inspires athletes to pursue their potential." More like their potential to spend. The app, which goes live in June, is basically a unified portal to Nike's three existing Nike+ apps: Nike Running Club, Nike Training Club, and Nike SNKRS. Its biggest selling point is its ability to sell smarter to you. The app is an "all-access pass to Nike's most coveted products and events via one seamless sign-on," Nike boasts.
The Nike+ app will learn and store your shoe size, shirt size, pant size, favorite sports, favorite colors, and favorite Nike-sponsored athletes. That allows it to offer apparel tailored to you in a tab called "My Store." Under the “Feed” tab you’ll see editorial content, such as dribbling tips from NBA star Kevin Durant, or news about a new shoe. Under “Inbox,” you can be sent a message containing a “golden ticket,” which will only be accessible on mobile, that allows for early purchase of a new shoe. There is a mobile payments angle here as well: under the "Pass" tab, Nike gives you a personal QR code, which you can scan at a Nike store to check out faster when you’re buying that new shoe. And finally, under the “Services” tab, you can access content from an expert directly from your phone—experts from Nike’s stable of elite athletes, coaches, trainers, and designers—or sign up for a Nike event, like a group run, or even book an appointment to meet with an expert at a Nike store, where you can buy more shoes.
A family of four apps
If you're a Nike enthusiast who already uses the Nike Running Club app to track your runs, is this really a must-download? Nikki Neuburger, Nike’s VP of member services, hopes so. “The other three apps don't go away, they continue to be updated,” she says. “And they're all connected now through one sign-on. We anticipate there will be some people who just have this new app, and some people with all four apps. But the most important takeaway is that this one is the most personal to you.”
Nike already knows a lot about you, based on your purchasing habits and any data gleaned from your use of Nike fitness apps. Now it will learn more. Bob Bennett, general manager of the Nike+ app, highlights this as a selling point: “You can see how much we know about you. It's a blend of commerce, personalized to you, as well as services based on what we know.”
That may sound scary. But make no mistake: The new Nike+ app will be a success. Content from sponsored athletes, no matter how canned or pre-packaged, appeals to sports fans; offers of new sneakers ahead of time appeals to sneakerheads; and tailored purchase suggestions appeal to the (many) shoppers who are exclusively loyal to Nike.
A glitzy launch event
To demonstrate how big Nike is going on its new Nike+ system, Nike went big on the rollout. On Wednesday it held an elaborate event, Innovation for Everybody 2016, at a giant space in downtown Manhattan, where comedian Kevin Hart and athletes like NFL stars Odell Beckham, Jr. and Victor Cruz were on hand to sing Nike's praises and even lead an intense workout for reporters who chose to participate. (This particular reporter didn't quite anticipate the extent of the workout—intervals of squats, lunges, situps, and pushups—and is still sore two days later.) In the first half of the day it unveiled its first pair of self-tying shoes, the HyperAdapt 1.0; the evening focused on the Nike+ app, from which you, lucky consumer, can get early access to shoes such as—you guessed it—the HyperAdapt 1.0.
In recent years, Nike has earned praise from analysts for its innovation. CEO Mark Parker, who began as a shoe designer, has become the face of the company's push into blending technology and fitness. Nike first launched Nike+ 10 years ago (you might remember the small chip you'd place inside your shoe, below your heel, to track a run) and the landscape has changed since then. With Fitbit (FIT), Apple Watch, and Nike's own FuelBand, it's a crowded market. But Nike earns points for doing the work in-house: Nike built its own fitness app, while both Adidas (ADDYY) and Under Armour (UA) acquired fitness-app makers.
Don’t be surprised if Nike eventually uses the Nike+ app as a home for editorial content, too. Neuberger says, “We're really excited to add whatever consumers want to see more of.” Think of the success that Derek Jeter’s website The Players’ Tribune has seen with posting athlete essays (Kobe Bryant took to the site to announce his own retirement). Then imagine Nike encouraging its sponsored athletes to post content directly to the Nike+ app.
Will Nike devotees see the need for a fourth Nike app on their phones? Maybe so, if Neuberger’s pitch sounds exciting: “It will help us serve people better and cut through stuff that doesn't interest them.” Nike hopes the app’s users will be very interested—in spending.
Daniel Roberts is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering sports business and technology.
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