Assessment One: Reflection Exercise
Nike is one of the leading multinational corporations dealing with the designing, developing, manufacturer, marketing, sale, and distribution of footwear. In one of its expansion strategies, the company has occupied the Chinese market, one that is very attractive to competitors including Chinese shoe companies and other multinationals such as Adidas and Puma (Roberts, Xu, Fan, & Zhang, 2012). As expected, competition is very high in China because of the attractiveness of the market, the high population, and the rising middle class in the country.
Image 1: Nike’s Hongbao Campaign
In the Nike campaign for its Chinese market, the Lunar New Year was the center of the promotion as shown in image 1 above. The campaign featured a Chinese tradition that involves giving out gifts in the form of money filled in red envelopes for the celebration of the New Year. In the campaign, a humorous twist is taken on the humility and politeness of the Chinese people. The campaign shows elders trying to gift children with red envelopes and children desperately attempting to refuse these gifts in kindness. A young child accepts gifts from her aunt and as she matures, she devices new ways to refuse these gifts. So she puts on her Nike shoes to out-run the aunt, every single year putting up a spirited yet humble fight. The aunt returns the favor with her own Nike running shoes as the niece prepares to gift her in the final scene. The campaign was very effective in conveying its message to the Chinese market, showing a deep understanding of the culture and the people. While every other major athletic apparel brand used celebrity and influencer endorsements, Nike’s campaign utilized a relatable tradition and one that resonates well with the target market.
In this marketing campaign, positive emotions that resonate with the target market and the culture are used to encourage consumers to take action in buying products. The Nike’s campaign obtained high visibility while still being adaptive to the culture of the Chinese consumers. In a more specific review of the advertisement, the marketer was very creative and adaptive. The advertisement was significantly bold and brave, tackling an issue that could be interpreted differently due to its roots in the Chinese culture. As a result, the advertisement creates a positive impact, attains notable visibility, and becomes a game changer. In the end, the marketers are able to attain an emotionally moving campaign that shows sensitivity to a very old culture and uses modernity to blend the tradition as a part of the age-old Chinese custom. The campaign creates a connection with the Chinese culture by depicting Nike to be a key part of the people of China and what they believe in.
In a keener look at Nike’s promotional activities, it is clear that the company prefers to use a more producer to consumer approach to reach its target market. One way of achieving this approach is to ensure that the customer (target market) can relate to the brand. Nike follows up the promotion activities with direct marketing actions such as discounts, sales, and sponsorships. In the marketing campaign presented above, Nike used the promotion to kick start a series of discounts, sponsorships, sales, and rebates in line with the gift giving season in the Chinese Lunar New Year calendar. Even with the limited duration of the promotion activities, the umbrella promotion campaign managed to leave a long lasting impression in relation to the culture ad in establishing Nike as a key part of the Chinese culture.
Every promotional marketing activity falls into either a push or pull strategy. According to Unni and Harmon (2007), push strategies focus all promotional activities in distribution avenues while the pull strategy uses marketing communication to generate desire and awareness of a brand, pulling customers to make purchases. Nike leans more towards a pull strategy as it attempts to persuade customers to make purchases in its stores and online avenues. The effectiveness of Nike’s promotion campaign is largely due to the way it is timely, brief, and also encompasses other marketing activities to provide reinforcement in a pull strategy that drives consumers to seek the company for purchases. The pull theory looks at the manner through which a business can directly link to customers in a bid to increase the demand for products. Tie-ins and advertising with the main products and services is a major part of this strategy. If the demand for a product in high amongst consumers, retailers and wholesalers will have a higher demand prompting quick sales and distribution of a product. A majority of the costs are linked to the advertising part of the promotion strategy, therefore a tie-in with the various products disperses the costs across the organization. Nike’s pull strategy is also reflective of a consumer-focused promotion strategy. In this approach, Zhang, Fang, Yang, and Zhang (2018) note that promotion activities target the end user of a product. Nike combined an emotional advertising campaign with promotion activities including coupons, premiums, sales promotions, and other limited-period offers. The idea behind such promotion activities is to improve on the short term sales. The effectiveness of promotion activities is easier to measure. It is an important marketing tool that can be applied to market a variety of products and services.
The combination theory also applies to the promotion activities that Nike applies as a part of its strategy to win the Chinese market. The theory requires a blend of both the push and pull theories in promotion to get products to wholesalers and retailers while still using ads and product tie-ins to get more customers to want a product (Clausen, Demircioglu, & Alsos, 2020). The combination theory works well for a brand like Nike that has a variety of products in different categories.
Nike has applied a combination theory of the pull and push strategies to appeal to the Chinese market. Specifically, it has used advertising to appeal to a fairly rigid Chinese market. The marketing campaign touches on the culture and traditions of the Chinese market. Cultural contexts played a vital role in the marketing campaign because they not only provided an icebreaker for the campaign but also created an avenue for Nike to attach itself as a critical component of the Chinese traditions and culture. By targeting a popular holiday period and a celebrated date, Nike merged its marketing promotion with other marketing goals such as creating brand awareness, making sales, improving customer relations, and creating a name for itself above the competition in China.
In conclusion, the Nike marketing campaign was a successful one. It applied aspects of culture to appeal to a market that is relatively rigid to new brands. To beat the competition, the Nike promotion campaign featured a Chinese tradition that involves giving out gifts in the form of money filled in red envelopes for the celebration of the New Year. In this marketing campaign, positive emotions that resonate with the target market and the culture are used to encourage consumers to take action in buying products. Additionally, a combined pull and push strategies are applied in the promotion strategy to attract customers to demand more of Nike products while setting the same high demand to the retailers and wholesalers. Overall, the success of the promotion activities is due to the influence of culture and the way Nike manipulates these concepts to create a superior product promotion.
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