PREMIUM POSITIONING: NIKE+ FUELBAND


Within the last decade, it has become widely recognized that up to 90 percent of new product and service introductions fail. These product failures can be attributed to a variety of reasons, ranging from a lack of proper target market definition to some products simply being too far ahead of the market.

However, one oft-disregarded cause of failure is that some of these new products tend to be poorly positioned. More often than not, the success (or failure) of a new product can largely be dependent on its positioning, and a perfect example can be seen with the recent launch of the Nike+ FuelBand.

On its own the FuelBand is an innovative product which, in addition to tracking your steps, time and calories on an LED display, essentially makes use of a new unit of measurement – NikeFuel. Input your daily goals and the FuelBand will measure your movement – the closer you get to your goal, the closer to green you get on the LED display. FuelBand is also equipped with USB and allows for wireless syncing with your iPhone (or iPod) for more detailed data, instantly making your information available to share through your social networks.

Nevertheless, Nike (or presumably the planners at its ad agency of record, Wieden+Kennedy) recognized that an innovative product such as the FuelBand needs to be backed by an equally innovative positioning. Hence, the development of the tagline, “Life Is a Sport. Make it count”, which successfully integrates Nike’s ongoing Make It Count campaign. Although the idea of life being a sport is well-known and even sometimes used in colloquial language, it wasn’t until now that the phrase has been successfully commercialized. More importantly, this clever move on the part of Nike also has important implications for the brand.

First, it elevates Nike’s brand value and perception in the minds of consumers. This idea of life as a sport creates a unique brand association because it essentially redefines the meaning of sports, and in turn serves as a key differentiator for the Nike brand.

Second, it establishes a competitive advantage in the minds of customers, particularly because it embodies the timeless value of life which other brands within the sportswear and equipment industry are yet to do.

Third, this positioning widens Nike’s target market – an already broad group to begin with (See: If You Have A Body, You Are An Athlete). In particular, non-traditional athletes (free runners, break dancers, etc) now have a stronger sense of connection to the brand because they can all relate to this universal idea of life.

Ultimately, introducing the FuelBand using this idea of life as a sport helps convey Nike’s unique value proposition and further emphasizes the brand’s superiority within the sportswear and equipment category. Although the FuelBand won’t be available worldwide until May, you can watch the spot below in the meantime to see which activities (including impersonating MC Hammer) count or don’t count towards NikeFuel.

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