imitaciones air max Nike Is Bounding Past Reebok
The company has achieved the turnabout not only through its diversification but through a new niche marketing strategy, a keen sense of fashion and an advertising campaign that exalts sweaty joggers and slam dunking basketball stars.
Nike’s good fortune was underscored yesterday when the company reported its profits. Earnings per share were $4.45 in the 1989 fiscal year, up 64.8 percent from $2.70 in the previous year. Nike’s shares dropped $1 yesterday, to $42.75. Analysts said Nike’s stock price already reflected the company’s success. New Emphasis on Fashion
Nike, which pioneered the ”performance driven” market with shoes designed for serious runners, is maintaining its lead in that area. And now it is making strides in the marketing of shoes for the fashion oriented customer an area where Reebok has been strong.
Reebok, whose shoes are still popular but are no longer phenomenally so, is trying this year to bolster its sales with a new line of shoes designed for serious athletes.
”Nike is hitting on all cylinders,” said Alice Ruth, a financial analyst for Montgomery Securities. ”They lead the race in terms of consumer demand and retailers’ confidence in the brand. There is one buzzword among retailers now, and that’s Nike.”
After explosive growth in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, Nike lost its dominance in athletic footwear to Reebok, which became one of the biggest brand name phenomena of the decade. Starting virtually from scratch in the early 1980’s, Reebok International Ltd. was by last year a $1.79 billion a year business, compared with Nike’s sales of $1.2 billion. Both the Reebok and Nike figures include apparel and other company brands. In athletic footwear alone, Reebok had 26.7 percent of the market and Nike 23.3 percent.
But today, Reebok is struggling. It posted its first earnings decline, around 20 percent, in 1988, and is hoping for a big back to school season this year to revive flagging sales.
This year, in the United States footwear market alone, Nike’s sales are likely to exceed Reebok’s $1.25 billion compared with $1.21 billion, said Heidi Steinberg, an analyst at Salomon Brothers. Nike’s market share would therefore be an estimated 25 percent, against 24.2 percent for Reebok.
To a large degree, Nike’s current surge is based on a marketing strategy forged around two years ago that broadened the company’s focus far beyond athletic shoes. The company identified about a dozen niche markets like basketball, running, tennis and water sports and now sells not only shoes in each category but apparel and accessories. Nike last year also bought Cole Haan, which makes dress shoes, signaling its interest in further diversification.
”Our philosophy is that we compete in a lot of different businesses, and one of them is the footwear business,” said Philip H. Knight, Nike’s chairman and chief executive. ”We are competing segment by segment, with specific products and advertising all aimed at a segment, and we think that makes us stronger as a company.”
Reebok has attempted to diversify in recent years, but with less success. Between 1985 and 1988, for instance, it built its apparel business from annual sales of $7.8 million to $45.1 million,
though still far below Nike’s fiscal year 1988 apparel sales of $142.9 million, according to Salomon Brothers.
Analysts and industry experts say that much of Reebok’s problem lies in the fact that unlike Nike, the company has yet to master the performance driven side of the footwear market, as well as the fashion driven end. New Effort by Reebok
Reebok’s newest athletic shoes, for instance, are sneakers with an ”Energy Return System” that consists of a bundle of plastic tubes in the shoe’s sole that is said to return energy to the wearer. At the Sporting Goods Manufacturers’ Association Trade Show in Atlanta, in February, where the shoes were introduced, a number of retailers gave Reebok high points for attempting a comeback, but said the shoes might strike serious athletes as too gimmicky.
And Reebok’s advertising has some critics, who say it reflects an unfocused quality that leaves questions in consumers’ minds.
”The advertising message has not been nearly as consistent” as Nike’s, said Dusty Kidd, editor of Sportstyle, a sports apparel and equipment trade journal. Kidd added.
”It wasn’t clear what they were letting you be,” he said. ”Do you sell a performance shoe by showing an old woman in her back yard putting up her laundry? The message wasn’t clear.”
Nike’s advertising campaign, by contrast, has been widely praised for its artfulness and clarity. Nearly all the ads depict serious athletes engaged in sport. In a television ad, the basketball star Michael Jordan flies to the hoop in his Air Jordan shoes. In a famous billboard, an exhausted runner wearing Nikes stands drenched with water at the end of a race. Air Sacs for Top Shoes
What is more, top of the line Nike shoes, called Nike Air, share a design element air filled plastic membranes that enhances the lightness, stability and comfort of its shoes, the company says.
Also helping turn the tide for Nike in the last two years has been its addition of fashion based marketing to the advertising mix.
While the Nike Air system never changes, for instance, the colors and cosmetic elements of Nike shoes change every six months, just as the fashion world uses its ”spring colors” and ”fall colors” to improve sales.
”They have a program of planned product life cycles, which they didn’t have before,” said George Haloulakos, who follows Nike for Dain Bosworth in Seattle. Nike’s headquarters are in Beaverton, Ore.
For example, for the spring season next year, Nike said yesterday, the company will bring out around 300 new products, from neoprene windsurfing suits to Lycra jogging shorts and color coordinated tennis outfits with matching shoes, shorts and tops.
photo of Phil Knithg, Kevin Menard and Wendi Baker (NYT/Chester Higgins Jr.) (pg. D1); graphs comparing Nike and Reebok revenues and market share (Sources: Sports Manangement News,
Salomon Bros.) (pg. D4)