Nike believes brands have a major role to play in tackling the coronavirus, whether through helping on the frontline, looking after staff or providing services to consumers.

Nike is hoping the strength of its brand, a shift to digital commerce and showing it is doing its part to help tackle the Covid-19 pandemic will help the company weather the growing crisis.

Speaking on an analyst call following its quarterly results, Nike CEO John Donahoe said he recognises that Nike needs to “do its part”. To do that, its innovation and manufacturing teams are exploring designs for personal protective equipment for doctors, nurses and others on the frontline.

For consumers, it has made the premium part of its Nike exercise app free for 90 days. And for staff it has promised “pay continuity” despite stores being closed and demand falling.

To help support government and healthcare messaging around staying indoors, it has also launched a “strong” digital campaign across Europe and the US encouraging people to stay healthy and connected while at home.

“We know this is a moment in society when the private sector has a major role to play,” said Donahoe. “Companies like Nike need to do our part.

“While this is an uncertain and challenging time, Nike has the foundation in place to emerge from it stronger than ever. Thanks to our competitive advantages, the power of our brand in connection with consumers, our digital capabilities, our compelling product innovation and most importantly, our extraordinary team, we will manage our business back to full recovery.

“We know in times like these that strong brands get even stronger. And I truly believe that no one is better equipped than Nike to navigate the current climate.”

While the crisis is still building in Europe, the US and other places across the world, China appears to be “on the other side”. This has enabled Nike to learn from its experience in that market to adopt the best strategy elsewhere.

For example, usage of its activity apps were up 80% at the end of the quarter versus the beginning. This translated into strong usage of its commerce app, with digital sales increasing by 30%.

Despite the fact 80% of its stores in China are now back open, Nike’s digital business has accelerated “even further”, while many stores are back trading at the levels they were before the coronavirus outbreak took hold.

“[This is] a powerful statement of Nike’s agile problem-solving in times of disruption,” said Donahoe.

“Our experience in China, Japan and South Korea gives us confidence that we will see the other side of this crisis in the near future. And I can assure you this, as the situation continues to evolve, we will be ready and we will respond. We’ll be guided by our values, and we will execute with empathy and with decisiveness,” he added.

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