Nike+ Fuels a Global Battle of the Sexes

Lucas    October 25, 2017

Competition and teamwork is at the core of human motivation. What many of us struggle to achieve on our own, without supervision and benchmarks, can often be achieved when we are pushed beyond our comfort zone and joined by others with a common goal. Nike has repeatedly leveraged this fundamental element of human nature, and has successfully gamified the typical shopping experience through their online community: NikePlus.


With the introduction of NikePlus in 2006, and several other engaging products and campaigns shortly thereafter, Nike grew their share of the VERY competitive running shoe market from 47% in 2007 to 61% in 2009 (Kuo, 2015). Since then, they’ve retained their majority stake in market, and grown their online Nike+ platform from 500,000 users in 2007 (Kuo, 2015) to 28,000,000 users in 2014 (Petersen, 2014).

In fact, 2006 was a major turning point in the marketing strategy for Nike as a whole. That year, spending on traditional media was cut by 40 percent, in favour of social media and mobile applications (Petersen, 2014). This decision was very important in Nike’s success in breaking apart from the homogeneous running shoe market and building a brand that represented not only quality sporting goods, but also a family of athletes and enthusiasts who encouraged each other through friendly competition. This sort of friendly rivalry was the driving force behind the success of the 2009 interactive campaign called Men Vs. Women.

The Men Vs. Women campaign has been one of the most effective gamification campaigns of all-time. With global participation, and clear and measurable results, Nike used human nature to pit the two largest teams on Earth, men and women, against one another. This global game came three years after the launch of NikePlus; however, has contributed to its continued global penetration, and to Nike’s overall domination of the running shoe market.

Beyond the competitive spark that this campaign fuelled, Men Vs. Women provided real-time benefits to consumers, as they were able to make a meaningful impact within their online community. The live scoreboard and the real-life action made customers feel a sense of belonging and purpose.

Over the course of this campaign, Nike was also able to leverage their engaged customers by having access to a significant amount of data. They were able to learn behavioural and motivational differences between genders, age, geography, and other relevant metrics. This allowed Nike to fuel their research and development department, and develop several software and device innovations, like the FuelBand, which was a pioneering product in the wearable technology market.

Lessons for Others

There are several clear examples of how customer engagement helps organizations break through the clutter and build brand loyalty; however, Nike has set a precedence for what is possible when you engage the consumer’s intrinsic drive to win. When done well, the amount of data that becomes available to a company can be invaluable. If companies can use our human desire to play and compete successfully, improved customer engagement, stronger brand loyalty, and product improvements are among the many benefits that can be earned.


Organization: NikePlus
Industry: Running Shoes / Sports Apparel
Name of Organization Contact: N/A

Authored by: Lucas R. Coady

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Kuo, I. (2015, Aug. 3) Nike+: Building Community and Competitive Advantage with Gamification. Retrieved from

Petersen, K. (2014, Apr. 28) 28M-Strong Mobile Community Gives Nike Competitive Edge. Retrived from