THE CHALLENGE In the early 2000s, Nike’s share of the runners’ shoe market was falling. Competitors like New Balance and Asics were the choice of both mom-and-pop shops as well as core active wear retailers. The Nike brand was not being taken seriously by “real” runners and began losing credibility as the shoe for the dedicated running community. Our challenge was to re-position Nike as the experts on the running shoe that could seamlessly blend a fashion-forward look with legitimate running support.
THE IDEA Noticing the increasing popularity of marathons and half-marathons among young, active females—particularly those new to running—Nike had the opportunity to own the emerging women’s fitness and running market.
Our solution: create the preeminent and most premium marathon experience, designed specifically for women. This wasn’t just a race to the finish line; it was, and still is, an experience designed for “her” from beginning to end. We personalized every step of the experience, from a comprehensive expotique for her to pick up her bib to course amenities such as sock changing stations, a chocolate zone, and an on-course jacket check. The first-ever Nike Women’s Marathon (NWM) launched in 2004 in San Francisco and has continued every year since.
Over the past decade, our solution has expanded to include digital strategy, social media strategy and customer service, and the Track My Run App app implementation and management. And in 2013 and 2014, the race itself expanded also take place in Washington, D.C.
THE RESULTS Nike now commands 62.8% of the running market, with the women’s running category alone growing by 8.5% from 2013. In its 11th year, the NWM has grown from 9,000 to over 30,000 participants, chosen from a lottery of more than 50,000 entries. It has become the largest women’s running event in the world. Since its inception, the NWM benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), and is now the largest single fundraiser for that group with over $150 million raised to date.