Will NM find its feminine side, like Nike finally did?

For Nike, reports the New York Times, women consumers, especially those who combine workouts with seeing friends after (and looking good), are “at the core of the new organizational, product and marketing strategy aimed at finding ways to capture the women’s sports market after years of failures..”

The company has started mailing catalogs for its female apparel line, called Nikewoman, and has also begun to overhaul the web site…next week, the company will open a Nikewomen store in Westchester Country, NY, and is planning to start four more stores in the US…

In the past, like most sports companies, Nike had perfected the traditional male sales model by tying sports stars to brands. “But while men may want to “Be like Mike,” writes the paper, “women consumers say they are less drawn to sales pitches built around hero worship, despite the growth of women’s sports and expensive contracts to athletes like Mia Hamm and Serena Williams.

So, to respond to the women out there, “in the last five years Nike has slowly overhauled the way it looks at the women’s market.”

Did you know that “it wasn’t until 2000 that the company made women’s shoes using molds made from women’s feet.”?!?

“Previously,” reports the NYTiimes, “it had simply used a small man’s foot mold, which is shaped differently in the heel and the ball of the foot.” After changing the mold, the company also “began adding more fashionable color and designs to its apparel…” In 2004, because of these changes, the apparel sales increased THREE TIMES more than general shoe sales, reports the paper.

You get the idea.

In our business, we are still trying to push the male “mold” of language and style onto the (mostly women) in the field. There have been BOOKS e.g. “Marketing to Women”
about the gender differences and about the many companies across the US that are changing their sales approaches to finally connect with the women, who today represent 51% of the population.

Approaching and relating to women requires language and style specifics that fit THEM, just like Nike learned about shoes. The male mold will not do. Nike failed for years with women until they realized that.

The huge drop out rate, our “failure,” shows us that it’s obviously not enough to try to jam the male mold of language and approach styles onto the 80% women. We’re still failing the women like Nike did (how long will they keep coming and hoping?) and nearly all of them drop out.

Do you think there might be a connection between that and that trainers are not adjusting the “old boy” marketing and language strategies to speak to the 80% women in our field?

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About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Well doggone!

    No wonder my feet never fit into Nike shoes, golf or tennis!

    Marketing to women is only our first step. Now we must let our little lights shine and teach women how to market to one another.

    Every chance you get, correct your language. Know and believe it’s not only ok, but your right to speak “She-Talk” for business, and for life.

    Shari Thomas
    Forest Grove OR

  • I’m just going through your “Customer Enchilada” now – in 2012. I’m happy to report that my company (at least) seems to be tuned into “feelings” as a motivator for both the passionate use of the products and the willingness to share the opportunity.
    And it’s alright for men to express their feelings, too. Or as the company founder says, act on “promptings” (which doesn’t sound too feminine to scare away men.)

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