How Nike and Adidas Have Driven Mobile-Based Loyalty

Make customers actually feel a connection

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This month, Nike has been garnering acclaim for an inspirational, one-minute film called “The Toughest Athletes,” which celebrates the strength of mothers as well as the brand’s first dedicated maternity line. And to create long-term loyalty for the campaign, the Swoosh partnered with pre-and post-natal exercise expert Jane Wake to create four audio-guided workouts for motherhood in Nike’s Run Club mobile app. The mobile piece demonstrates that while inspiration is fantastic, daily branded engagement is what truly builds loyalty. 

Brand loyalty has been disrupted just like almost everything else in the last year. Around three-quarters of consumers have been trying new shopping behaviors during the pandemic. Mobile apps are an increasingly important part of brand loyalty. Consider that people spent $28 billion during Q3 last year on mobile apps, while 40% of shoppers are using their cellphones more often as they refrain from entering stores due to Covid-19. 

Nike and direct competitor Adidas provide fresh inspiration for how they make customers actually feel a connection to their brands via mobile. To weather the temporary shuttering of stores in the past year, the sneaker rivals have meshed a sophisticated, layered, mobile-tech strategy with customer-minded offers to motivate strong brand loyalty. 

Save, sweat and smile

Nike showed up to this pandemic especially prepared, benefiting from years of investing significantly in its online and mobile marketing. The company—which has around 1,000 stores and sells its products via hundreds of other retail chains—saw digital revenue jump 84% last quarter. Nike was partly aided by a boost in sneaker purchases during the pandemic. 

To help make sales flow, the company has multiple apps that generate brand engagement by marrying content with commerce. For instance, the aforementioned Nike Run Club app entails gamification features that keep customers active with the brand, encouraging them to participate in a range of athletic-minded challenges or exercise routines. The app also includes shopping sections so users can buy the gear they need while it’s top of mind during their workouts.

Exclusive access to offers is part of Nike’s mobile strategy. As one example, its flagship Nike app allows users to get first dibs on new products and offers real-time style assistance from brand reps. Further, Nike’s SNKRS app users can partake in drawings for limited-edition shoe drops before others even know about them. It’s also been offering card-linked 3% cash back on purchases via mobile channels because its marketers understand people are trying to save money during this uncertain economic period. 

These experiences have been important during the pandemic, helping replace the in-store sales that Nike—like so many retailers—has been missing out on in the last year. 

All-in-one approach

While Adidas also has several mobile apps, its flagship app is where customers find particularly exceptional value. The approach works for Adidas, representing more of an all-in-one mindset compared to Nike. 

On the Adidas app, users can shop, train, get instant access to sneaker drops, develop a personal style and participate in the brand’s Creators Club loyalty program. Creators Club customers earn points for not only shopping but also exercising and engaging with its online community, and, during this pandemic, it’s been complementing Adidas’s 5% rewards on other digital platforms. 

Additionally, the flagship app includes high-tech shopping features like visual search. So when a user sees someone else wearing a branded outfit they like, they can take a picture or upload a photo of the shoes or shirt, then see a list of matching or similar items. They can also opt in to mobile alerts about the availability of such items if they are out of stock.  

Such efforts have paid off. During the pandemic, Adidas’ Q3 digital sales were up by 51%, following a Q2—when fewer stores were allowed to be open—that saw a 93% jump online sales. Brand loyalty via mobile has been key. During its most recent earnings call, Adidas execs pointed to the mobile-oriented Creators Club as a noteworthy emphasis for the brand. 

Altogether, the lessons from Nike and Adidas for retailers can be summed up this way: When you master mobile and keep your customers’ various needs in mind, their loyalty will follow you through thick and thin. While this combination takes real dedication, it can do wonders because, in the words of poet Maya Angelou: “People will never forget how you made them feel.”