Gamify: What fitness studios can learn from Nike’s ‘House of Innovation’
What do sports retailers and fitness studios have in common? A mission to motivate people to be active. At the FitTech Summit: FIBO Edition, Adrian Nyman, VP Global Creative Director Retail at Nike, used the example of Nike’s new ‘House of Innovation’ flagship stores to explain how he does just that.
“Anyone who wants to motivate people to be active has to begin by breaking down the obstacles that are holding them back.” That was the core message offered by Adrian Nyman, VP Global Creative Director Retail at Nike, whose keynote speech for FIBO@business provided insights into the creation of Nike’s new flagship stores. Nyman knows what he is talking about. In a time defined both by growing passivity and rising online sales, sports brands have to come up with new concepts for reaching and inspiring their customers.
The role of bricks-and-mortar retailers has changed immensely in recent years. Nyman explains: “We asked ourselves what we could do to make retail more experimental: how could we turn a flagship store into something that was more than just a space for transactions or buying products?” His vision of the store of the future drew international attention: in 2018, Nike opened its first ‘House of Innovation’ in Shanghai, following this up with a store in New York and, in July 2020, with the third and last to date in Paris. All three of these stores share a single focus: providing an experience. Be it the Sneaker Lab with exclusive product launches, exclusive bra fittings or product customising, each store offers a wide range of services that are all designed to forge stronger bonds with their customers.
Nyman does not rely on yoga studios, fitness courses or treadmills in these stores to motivate their customers. As Nyman says: “We tried it, and it just didn't work.” He identified three reasons for this: “People are in a different mindset when they go shopping. They don't want to be active, and not everyone is a top athlete – they have inhibitions, and they are a bit intimidated.” Quite frequently, there simply isn't anyone who's ready to take the first step. “You need to have someone who can take people by the hand and explain to them what they are supposed to do.”
“With gamification we can help people enter our world”
Something that actually does work: concepts focused on play. “With gamification we can help people enter our world,” says Nyman. Various measures have been undertaken in the ‘House of Innovation’ to this end, including the installation of a digital wall multiple storeys high with a digital floor whose screens can be used to show any content desired. Nike developed its own games involving movement to inspire people to spontaneously take part – grandparents and grandchildren alike. “Even so, it is important that these games tell a story, and that their narrative is embedded in the environment,” adds Nyman. These are much more than variations on hopscotch. That is why Nike created digital worlds for key product launches that help to explain special product features or which reflect the product design: technical innovations are more likely to be accompanied by performance-driven games on the digital screens, while the focus is on fun when it comes to casual shoes.
“If you can't share it on Instagram, it never happened!”
Finding the right storytelling is essential for creating a comprehensive experience of the product, community and brand, says Nyman. Equally important: everything has to be shareable. Nyman: “If you can't share it on Instagram, it never happened!”
According to Nyman, gyms face similar challenges to retail. Three factors are crucial to the success of a concept:
sport can be intimidating. You need to reduce friction and make it more accessible
what motivates people to participate, what are the benefits of sport? The positive effects must be put in the foreground, i.e. fun, entertainment, health and community. Gamification is a way to connect all points.
people need help and guidance so that they are willing to participate
Particularly with our situation today, when everything is being impacted by the restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, sports brands and sporting venues can create places of refuge where it is easier for people to have fun, feel enthusiastic, be active and be a part of the community. People are open to that now, and they are interested in becoming healthier. “With all the negative impacts the pandemic has had, this is an important positive effect, and we need to take advantage of it.”