Innovation is at the heart of what we do at Nike: Avinash Pant
Nike India's Marketing Head Avinash Pant on Nike's World Cup association, innovating for the Indian athlete and marketing to the youth
Innovation for a brand is not only in terms of its product, but also the way it is marketed. Avinash Pant, Head Marketing, Nike India speaks to exchange4media on how Nike caters to the Indian markets by creating products that help athletes here perform better and how they use innovative ways to market these products to consumers. He further speaks on Nike’s association with the Indian cricket team as their apparel partner and the creating the new apparel kit.
How has Nike as an international brand used innovation to cater to the Indian market?
For us at Nike, innovation is at the heart of our brand. It is part of our mission to provide athletes the best possible innovation to help them get better. That is who we are as a brand; that is what we do. There is an incredible running revolution happening in India and we bring the best of our running products whether it is the footwear, apparel, or it is in the ways for athletes to get better like with the Nike Plus running app. The core is ‘how do you help athletes get better?’ Specific to India if you talk about cricket, if you are in India and if you are a sports brand, you have to be in cricket. That is what moves this nation. But for us that means to find how we can connect with it. Of course we partnered with the BCCI and we are the apparel sponsor for the Indian cricket team. But taking it forward, how do you innovate and create cricket footwear that truly helps an athlete improve his game, whether it is a batsmen or bowler. So that is another piece of the puzzle. Another example I will share is that in partnership with the BCCI we launched the kit for the Indian national team and launched it just ahead of the tri-series in Melbourne. We brought the best of Nike innovation, whether it is in terms of the laser cut holes or the four way stretch of the fabric, basically reducing any distractions to the player, help them regulate body temperature and help them perform their best. This is what we do as a brand globally and bring the best of our innovation to athletes here as well. Those are some of the example from the product side. If you go further in terms of how you market the Run Himalaya example of finding ways and means to connect to the youth which is our focus in India. So we do a lot of work on digital because that is really where the youth is and that is what connects with them. We are focused on that medium with over six and half lakh fans on Facebook across cricket, football, running, etc.
How is World Cup association looked at by marketers?
I cannot answer for other brands but can talk from a Nike perspective. For us big sporting moments are really important. Because our focus and attention is really in that moment and we want our team to win. So for us it starts from the heart of it. Like I said the national team kit for team India is an incredible innovation in there for the team and of course we bring that product for the people in the country as well to wear and show their pride. That is the work on cricket that we’ve been doing in the past as well. And I would also say that for us when it comes to sporting moments, it is also a lot more deeply authentic to the moment. What I mean by that is there are multiple examples the Football World Cup that just went past. Nike brought some of its very best football foot wear and apparel innovation in for that. So I am just saying you go after it very authentically, it is not because the eyeballs are there. It is actually because we’re invested in the sport in which we believe and we want the sport to grow. That is something that we obviously work on and connect with consumers for.
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