Nike’s Energy Bar Marketing Plan
Founded in 1964, Nike is the largest sportswear and fitness company in the world. The company designs, manufactures and markets apparel, accessories, and equipment for a broad variety of sports including basketball, football, soccer, baseball, tennis, and cricket. The company’s success in the highly competitive sportswear and fitness can be attributed to product innovation and excellence as well as commitment to consumer needs. Recently, the company ventured into the energy bar market following its complete withdrawal from the golf equipment market. The new product line, dubbed as Nike Fuel +, was informed by the need to focus on fitness as opposed to just sports. Introducing the product provides an important opportunity for the company to widen its market as well as extend its brand. Given the intense rivalry in the energy bar market, a comprehensive marketing strategy is required if the product is to successfully gain a significant share of the market. This paper provides a marketing plan for the product. Attention is particularly paid to product strategy, pricing strategy, target segment, target messaging, communication strategies, and marketing budget.
Product constitutes an important element of the marketing mix (Lamb, Hair, Mcdaniel, 2012). Successful products are those that deliver unique benefits to the target market, both visible and invisible. Nike is certainly entering a market dominated by powerful brands such as Powerbar, Snickers Marathon, and Cliff Bars (Lewis, 2009). These rivals boast extensive recognition, presence, and distribution. They also boast several varieties in each product line. In spite of this, there is still room for new entrants. Focusing on a niche market and highly differentiated offerings, new entrants can readily grab a share of the market. One of the dominant players in the market is Powerbar. A major shortcoming of the company, however, is that it lacks a highly differentiated energy bar. Therefore, with a highly differentiated energy bar and focusing on a niche market, Nike can successfully establish its presence in the energy bar market.
Nike will specifically differentiate its product from the competition by targeting active individuals, notably high performance athletes as well as fitness conscious and on-the-go individuals. As its name suggests, the product will be designed as a delicious, carbohydrate-rich snack for providing energy and recovery after a game, exercise, or workout. The snack can as well be consumed between meals. In addition, the product will offer not only energy benefits, but also health benefits. Most energy bars in the market lack the health aspect (Roth, 2015). Filling this gap will, therefore, offer a significant competitive advantage for Nike in the marketplace. Overall, Nike has extensive experience in the sports and fitness market. It comprehensively understands the behavior of the active consumer. Therefore, active individuals will view Nike Fuel+ as a source of liveliness and energy for their active lifestyle.
Price also constitutes an essential component of the marketing mix. It is important for attracting customers and driving sales (Lamb, Hair, Mcdaniel, 2012). An effective pricing strategy will be instrumental to the success of the new product. Since it is a high-end product, a value-based pricing strategy would be appropriate. This essentially entails setting a price based on the perceived value of the product to the customer (Baines, Fill & Page, 2011). Nike is a well-established brand in the U.S. Consumers would be willing to pay a premium price just for the brand irrespective of the actual value of the product. A retail price of $2.75 for each bar is recommended. Nonetheless, the pricing strategy can be reconsidered in the event the desired levels of revenue are not attained. It is important to adjust pricing strategy in accordance to the response of the market.
A successful marketing plan must be based on a comprehensive understanding of the target market (Luther, 2011). There are over 28 million consumers of energy and nutrition bars in the U.S. This number is expected to be even higher in the near future as consumers become increasingly fascinated with nutrition, fitness, and wellbeing (Crawford, 2015). The new product line, therefore, provides an ideal brand extension opportunity for Nike.
Majority of consumers of energy and nutrition bars are aged 25 to 54 years, with the consumption being higher among females and affluent consumers (Butler, 2016). This comprises the major demographic group for Nike. In addition, approximately 75% of consumers of energy bars eat them as snacks between meals, while more than 60% consume them as a portable alternative for breakfast (Butler, 2016). Consumption also tends to be high during the latter part of the day, either as a snack between meals or during exercise (Butler, 2016). This group also comprises a significant portion of Nike’s target market.
The Nike consumer is generally active and athletic, meaning the company targets sports and fitness enthusiasts as well as recreationists. This category encompasses five key segments: professional sports people, excitement seekers, getaway actives, fitness driven individuals, and health conscious individuals. Professional sports people fall in the most extreme category of sports enthusiasts, and are individuals who participate in sporting activities as a way of earning a living. They are involved in team sports, especially soccer, football, baseball, cricket, basketball, volleyball, and so on. In essence, their entire life revolves around sports. Excitement seekers are individuals with an overwhelming passion for sporting activities. They regularly participate in mountain climbing, yoga classes, camping, and other adventurous outdoor activities. Getaway actives are individuals who engage in sporting activities in their free time, such as during weekends or vacation.
Fitness driven and health conscious individuals share some characteristics in the sense that they like keeping fit. They regularly engage in exercise and workout. Nonetheless, fitness driven individuals tend to be more involved in more intense physical activity such as running and weight lifting. Also, they may frequently visit the gym or take part in athletic activities. Health conscious individuals on the other hand tend to be involved in lighter exercises such as walking. Health conscious individuals also tend to be concerned about the nutritional composition of energy bars.
The Nike consumer is also fashionable, casual, and stylish. They use the brand to express social status as well as their sense of fashion. This means Nike’s customers find Nike’s products cool and trendy. It also means majority of Nike’s customers are likely to be living in urban areas, where attention to trendiness tends to be higher compared to rural and remote areas. Table 1 below summarizes the characteristics of the target market.
Table 1: Characteristics of the target market
Age: 25-54 years
Gender: men and women
Marital status: single, married, with and without children
Income: middle to high income
Educated: college and above
Location: urban areas
Usage occasion: regular and occasionally
Buyer status: first-time, regular, loyal, and non-loyal
Benefit sought: energy, health, and convenience
Buyer readiness: willing to buy, aware, and unaware
Attitude: enthusiast, quality conscious
Lifestyle: active, support and take part in sporting activities
Interests: professional sports people, excitement seekers, getaway actives, fitness driven individuals, health conscious individuals
An effective message is required if the target market is to successfully resonate with the new product line (Lamb, Hair, Mcdaniel, 2012). Nike’s energy bar is primarily targeted at high performance athletes as well as on-the-go and health conscious individuals. The messaging should clearly appeal to the needs of each segment. For high performance athletes, emphasis should be placed on performance. The messaging should demonstrate how the energy bar can enhance athletic performance. Communication to this group should also demonstrate the energy composition of the bars (in terms of carbohydrates, protein, and fat), how easy it is to digest the bars, as well as how they avoid the feeling of sluggishness. A phrase like Nike Fuel+: Energy for Every Athlete, coupled with images of top performance athletes, would be ideal for communicating to this segment.
Nike Fuel+: Energy for Every Athlete
For on-the-go or fitness driven individuals, the message should demonstrate that the product is ideal for not only high performance sports peoples, but also individuals with an active lifestyle. Emphasis should be on the convenience and endurance offered by the energy bars. In essence, it should be demonstrated that Nike Fuel+ can be a source of energy for individuals engaging in a morning workout or a mountain hike. A phrase like Nike Fuel+: Energizing Your Active Lifestyle, for instance, coupled with images of individuals taking part in outdoor activities such as biking, can be an ideal way of communicating to this segment.
Nike Fuel+: Energizing Your Active Lifestyle
For health-conscious individuals, the message must emphasize the company’s commitment to using organic ingredients. This consumer group has been growing over the past few years. An increasingly large proportion of consumers are now conscious about the healthiness of what they take. They expect energy bars to be not only rich in nutrients, but also healthy (Roth, 2015). This aspect must clearly come out in the marketing message. A phrase like Nike Fuel+: For Your Energy and Health, for instance, can be ideal for communicating to this segment.
The company will rely on three major channels to communicate the marketing message and raise awareness of the new product: keynote presentation by the leadership, television, the print media, digital media, social media, event sponsorships, as well as athlete and celebrity endorsements. The use of multiple communication channels is informed by the broad market Nike Targets. In addition, it is important to get the message to as many consumers as possible.
The marketing campaign will start off with keynote presentations by the CEO of the company Mark Parker as well as the Chairman and co-founder Phil Knight. This will take the style of a product launch event in full glare of the press. A major advantage of a launch event is that the organization gets an opportunity to communicate directly to the public (Baines, Fill & Page, 2011). In addition, the leadership’s announcement of the organization’s entry into the energy bar market is an important opportunity for the organization to deliver key messages relating to the brand and the new product. It is also an opportunity for the leadership to demonstrate the benefits of the new product to the target consumer. Indeed, keynote presentations by the leadership will be of immense influence to the target audience. The launch will be accompanied by a press release to major television channels and newspapers.
The launch and press release will be followed by television and print advertising. These conventional techniques provide a great way to communicate the existence of a new product. They are particularly important for groups that may not be regular users of the internet such as older adults. In this regard, a 45-second commercial will be run on popular television channels, notably ABC, NBS, CBS, and ESPN. Ads will also be placed on popular newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Los Angeles Times; as well as popular lifestyle, fitness, and sports magazines such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, Runners World, Outside, Inside Sport, Rolling Stone, and Southern Living. Relying on television channels and print media with a national coverage will be important for reaching the country as a whole.
Nike will also rely on digital media and social media to market the new product. These channels have increasingly redefined the world of marketing. Organizations ever more rely on search engine optimization (SEO), blogs, as well as popular social networking sites to market their offerings and engage consumers (Lamb, Hair, Mcdaniel, 2012). The appropriateness of digital and social media for Nike is informed by the fact that majority of its target market are frequent users of the internet and social media. For digital media, Nike will use paid search engine advertising, SEO, and blogging. Popular search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo will be used for search engine advertising. Blogging will be important for influencing the target audience. The blog will focus on aspects such as the benefits of the new energy bar. Blogging provides an important channel for driving SEO, creating leads, and providing links to social networks.
For social media, Nike will rely on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, and Pinterest. The choice of these platforms is informed by their huge following. With social media, marketers can use hashtags to accelerate awareness and trigger conversations about the new product. Indeed, the use of hashtags has become common in the social media environment, especially on Twitter. Social media also provides a platform for sharing appealing content such as photos and videos. Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube will be particularly important in this regard. Social media will be crucial for not only driving word of mouth, but also engaging the target audience.
Event sponsorship also provides a valuable channel for marketing a new product (Baines, Fill & Page, 2011). It essentially entails supporting, funding, or hosting an event. Nike has historically benefited from this technique. The company has sponsored and is currently sponsoring sports events in diverse fields, including football, athletics, baseball, basketball, cricket, golf, gymnastics, handball, martial arts, handball, rugby, and tennis. With its extensive network of sponsorships, the company is better placed to market its new energy bar via events. Sports events bring together individuals and groups with a passion for sports, which comprise Nike’s major target market. Therefore, taking advantage of these events would be beneficial to the company from a marketing perspective.
Finally, Nike will rely on top athletes and celebrity endorsements to raise awareness of its new product. This is also a technique the company has used successfully in the past. The company has relied on stars and celebrities like Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Tiger Woods, and Cristiano Ronaldo to market its offerings. Associating top athletes and celebrities with the new energy bar will be important for easing entry into the market. It will also be important for communicating to the target market that only winners use Nike Fuel+ energy bars.
Marketing the new energy bar will certainly not be a cheap undertaking for Nike — a substantial amount of money will be required. Approximately $50 million will be used for purposes of marketing. Table 2 below provides a breakdown of the marketing budget
Table 2: Marketing budget
Item Amount ($)
Product launch and press release 100,000
Television advertising 15,000,000
Print advertising 10,000,000
Digital media 5,000,000
Social media 3,000,000
Event sponsorship 10,000,000
Baines, P., Fill, C., & Page, K. (2011). Marketing. Oxford: Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Crawford, E. (2015). Nutrition and health bars expand market share by tying into wellness, athleticism. Retrieved from: http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Markets/Nutrition- bars-expand-market-share-by-tying-into-wellness-athleticism
Lamb, C., Hair, J. Mcdaniel, C. (2012). Essentials of marketing. 7th ed. Mason: Cengage Learning.
Lewis, A. (2009). Sales of high-protein bars continue to climb as others stall. Retrieved from: http://www.cspdailynews.com/sites/default/files/magazine-files/F4- keepingproteinbarhigh.pdf
Luther, W. (2011). The marketing plan: how to prepare and implement it. 4th ed. New York: AMACOM.
Roth, J. (2015). Top nutrition and energy bar trends in 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.preparedfoods.com/articles/115130-top-nutrition-and-energy-bar-trends- in-2015
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