Nike and Adobe Challenge College Students to Reimagine the Customer Journey

The two are teaming up for the software company's annual analytics competition

Students at last year
College students gather on stage at last year's Adobe Analytics Challenge. Nike/Adobe
Headshot of Richard Collings

This year, college students will get the opportunity to be more than sneakerheads by helping one of the largest consumer brands in the world rethink its digital experience.

Nike and Adobe are teaming up for the software company’s annual competition, the Adobe Analytics Challenge, which will give college students access to analysis tools utilized by Fortune 500 companies and government agencies in order to reimagine the customer journey for the sneaker giant.

“In today’s world, data is useful not only for data scientists, but also for any role that touches the customer experience. The Adobe Analytics Challenge is a great way to expose students to a great set of analytics tools used to solve real-world problems,” Emily White, vp of enterprise data and analytics at Nike, said in a statement. “We are excited to see how the next generation of future leaders will bring data to life.”

This year’s event will be virtual, presented live at AdobeAnalyticsChallenge.com on Nov. 17 beginning at noon ET.

Finalists, chosen from thousands of applicants, include teams from the University of California Los Angeles, Universiy of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, the Fashion Institute of Technology, the University of Utah, the National University of Singapore and the Indian Institute of Technology Dhanbad. Students will compete for top honors and $60,000 in cash and prizes. Members of these teams represent diverse areas of study such as marketing, human resources and finance, and are either undergraduate or graduate students.

This is the first year in which colleges from outside the U.S. have been invited to participate, Adobe said, which is apt considering the global reach of the Nike brand.

Since 2005, the Adobe Analytics Challenge has been the sole collegiate competition where students work with real data—in this case, Nike’s—to solve a real business problem. This year’s teams will be tasked with the overall Nike consumer journey—which includes a variety of customer personas or categories such as yoga, running and tennis—to figure out how to create a customized digital experience that converts visitors into members. During this process, competitors will analyze everything from web traffic and marketing segments to customer journeys across touchpoints such as apps and ecommerce.

For students, the competition is particularly tantalizing given the vast array of Nike apps, such as Nike Training Club and SNKRS. But students aren’t the only ones who benefit: According to a spokesperson for Adobe, companies that it has partnered with in years past have told it that they are able to leverage the students’ ideas.

“This is especially true of the “hand off” (e.g. the experiences that people have when they move from one channel to another; or from one area on the site to another). That pushes them to approach digital in a different way,” the spokesperson told Adweek.

Almost all past brands make it known on the last day of finals that they are walking away with ideas the brands will immediately implement—or at least plan to enforce, according to the software company.

As for Adobe itself, the competition gives it “a better view into the underlying pain points that all companies are facing. Students bring a fresh perspective, in what resonates with them and what works well,” the spokesporn said. “Given that we support brands across many different industries, it helps us better serve those needs.”


@RichCollings richard.collings@adweek.com Richard Collings is a retail reporter at Adweek.
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