Nike is a proven brand leader, and, in recent years, has demonstrated market leading innovative thinking around its product initiatives. Over the past 14 years, NIKEiD, the brand's revolutionary footwear customization service, has evolved into a fully-integrated component of a digital retail experience that is poised to generate USD $2 billion in annual online sales by 2017. Again proving its ability to respond to a rapidly changing market, in 2014, the company stopped producing its well-established Nike+FuelBand hardware-a device that helped pioneer the wearable technology market-and opened its NikeFuel platform to outside development. Through initiatives such as the Nike+ Accelerator program and Nike+ Fuel Lab incubator in the heart of Silicon Valley, Nike is betting a more open approach will allow it to stay relevant and responsive to evolving consumer needs, while feeding rumors of a rekindling of its partnership with Apple. This focus on optimizing for digital and social channels continued during a year in which Nike demonstrated a shift away from large broadcast media buys.
However, the brand's approach to official sponsorships illustrated further shifts-allowing adidas to gain the coveted Manchester United FC association, but outbidding Under Armour in a record-breaking shoe deal with basketball superstar Kevin Durant. Nike's brand promise of "innovation and inspiration for athletes" was visible in this year's successful FIFA World Cup campaign, "Risk Everything," featuring real and animated football superstars. The campaign demonstrated a laser focus on the youth market and Nike continued to steal the limelight and social engagement from official World Cup sponsor Adidas. Despite the disappointing performance of the Nike-sponsored host, Brazil, and a final featuring two Adidas teams, the enduring image of the 2014 World Cup will be Mario Götze's extra-time goal in the final, delivered from a Nike Magista boot.
Whether co-creating through NIKEiD, connecting with users on Nike+, or analyzing data to rethink product design, Nike has succeeded in turning a traditional company into a data-driven, customer-centric brand. By continuing to associate itself with the world's top athletes and sports events, helping its customers live healthier and express their personal style-and being wherever they are-Nike is building stronger relationships and long-term engagement that will give it an edge in the Age of You.