Nike’s Promotional Mix (Marketing Communications Mix)

Nike promotional mix, marketing communications mix, athletic shoes, clothes, equipment, sporting goods business promotions case study
A Nike store. Nike Inc.’s promotional mix or marketing communications mix is a balance between attracting new customers and keeping current ones in the athletic footwear, apparel, and equipment industry. (Photo: Public Domain)

Nike Inc.’s marketing communications mix (also known as promotional mix) utilizes various channels to communicate with target customers. This mix of methods, tools, and tactics enables the company to promote its business and products to the international market for athletic and leisure footwear, apparel, and equipment. This marketing communications mix is the promotions component of Nike’s marketing mix or 4Ps. The company’s promotional tactics and methods involve different kinds of communication, using different channels that account for sporting goods market dynamics. Nike’s promotional mix employs a combination of advertising, personal selling, direct marketing, sales promotions, and public relations. These methods and tactics have specific purposes in communicating with target customers and maintaining the market dominance of the company’s shoes, clothes, accessories, and equipment. The implementation of these promotional tactics depends on Nike’s organizational structure or corporate structure, which affects the resources available for supporting the marketing communications mix in different markets and regions.

In its promotional mix, Nike balances between attracting new customers and keeping existing customers. As a result, the business maintains its industry position as the largest sporting goods company in the world. In this way, Nike’s corporate mission statement and corporate vision statement are supported through an effective marketing communications mix.


Nike Inc. uses advertisements to communicate with large populations of target customers in the global market. This element of the marketing communications mix promotes the company’s brands and sporting goods to customers, thereby improving brand recall and purchase likelihood. In promoting the brand, the promotional mix contributes to the strengths described in the SWOT analysis of Nike Inc., considering that the brand is a major success factor in the business. Advertisements also improve customers’ perception about the company and its sporting goods. For example, advertising the durability and comfort of Nike footwear leads to the perception that the company’s brands represent high quality.

Advertising is frequently the costliest element of the marketing communications mix, but it is an effective tactic for driving sales, especially in promoting new products, such as new shoes and equipment. Celebrity endorsers are one of the reasons for the high cost of Nike’s advertisements. Popular professional athletes are shown in ads to motivate people to buy the company’s shoes and apparel. Thus, the success of this element of Nike’s promotional mix also depends on the popularity and public image of the celebrities hired for the company’s advertising.

Nike advertises through traditional media (e.g., television and print) and online. For example, the company places athletic shoe ads on Google’s digital advertising network, including YouTube. The significance of non-traditional or online advertising in Nike’s marketing communications mix has increased through the years, indicating a shift to promoting products to target customers through the Internet.

The success of Nike’s promotional mix depends on the competitive landscape, and how other firms’ marketing communication mixes compete through the same channels, platforms, and online environments. For example, Puma, Adidas, ASICS, New Balance, and Under Armour also advertise on traditional and digital media. This situation illustrates the high intensity of competitive rivalry in the sporting goods industry, even in terms of the promotional mix, reflecting the strong force of competition shown in the Five Forces analysis of Nike Inc.

Nike’s Personal Selling

Nike’s marketing communications mix involves personal selling. The objective of this tactic is to promote the company’s products through direct persuasive communication with potential buyers, such as those inside NikeTown stores. For example, salespersons’ face-to-face communication with customers can lead to actual purchases of Nike shoes, clothes, and accessories. This element of the promotional mix focuses on personal communication specific to individual customers, to satisfy their needs and preferences for footwear, apparel, or equipment.

Implementing personal selling as part of the marketing communications mix focuses on promoting based on customer experience, as well as quality and product differentiation, which are part of Nike’s generic strategies for competitive advantage, and intensive growth strategies. For example, sales personnel communicate and promote the quality of the company’s running shoes and golf shoes, and these products’ suitability to customers’ lifestyles. Thus, Nike’s marketing communications mix involves promotional tactics for individual purchases at retail locations.

Direct Marketing

In direct marketing as part of its promotional mix, Nike Inc.’s goal is the direct promotion and sale of products to a set of target customers. These customers are selected according to certain criteria, such as age group, sex or gender, and sports involvement or affiliation. For example, early access is given to Nike members through the company’s mobile apps. In this early-access program, a member is given the option to buy a pair of shoes that are not yet publicly available in the international market. The member and the offered shoes are chosen based on the member’s preferences and the shoes’ characteristics. In this regard, Nike’s marketing communications mix involves directly promoting some products to selected customers, in order to encourage purchase, use, and feedback. In addition, social networking platforms, such as Facebook, are also used in this element of the promotional mix, where the sporting goods company directly communicates with customers through interactive online interfaces.

The marketing communications mix provides Nike with opportunities to obtain valuable information that customers freely communicate with the business. Feedback from selected customers becomes part of market research data, and informs corporate decisions and strategies for the footwear, apparel, and equipment business. In particular, this part of the promotional mix enables Nike to improve its marketing strategies and tactics, and its products. Also, considering the direct (and sometimes individualized) nature of this direct marketing implementation, the marketing communications mix contributes to customer loyalty, which enhances competitive advantages in the sporting goods market.

Sales Promotion for Nike Shoes, Apparel, and Equipment

Sales promotion is applied for the purpose of boosting market demand for the company’s sporting goods. To boost demand, this element of Nike’s promotional mix may increase customer engagement, improve product value, reduce prices, and provide additional benefits. Sales promotions usually have time limits, such as specific date ranges where special offers are available on a number of athletic shoes. However, Nike’s marketing communications mix includes regular sales promotions, in order to continually persuade customers to buy the company’s products.

Nike Inc. uses sales promotions through discounts. For example, the business gives single-use 10% discount promo codes to verified students every 30 days, applicable to a large number of sporting goods through the company’s website and mobile app. Nike’s promotional mix also includes discount codes for military personnel and first responders. These discounts and special offers are different from the ones that retail companies apply as part of their own promotional mixes. Retailers, such as Walmart, Target, and Costco, provide discounts for a variety of shoe brands on special occasions. Sellers on Amazon also implement their own limited discount offers for their own Nike product inventories.

The use of sales promotions in the marketing communications mix can match sociocultural trends, such as the ones described in the PESTEL/PESTLE analysis of Nike Inc. These trends inform customers’ perceptions and preferences regarding the company’s shoes, clothes, equipment, and accessories, and influence the market suitability of different kinds of sales promotions. Sales promotions also increase inventory turnover, thereby making the marketing communication mix a factor in Nike’s operations management.

Public Relations

In public relations, the strategic objectives include creating publicity, enhancing customer relations and loyalty, promoting the company’s brands, and strengthening the corporate image of the sporting goods business. In this regard, Nike’s promotional mix includes charitable contributions to anti-discrimination programs in sports, and donations to community development programs. Also, this element of the marketing communications mix involves word-of-mouth publicity through celebrity endorsers and social media influencers, in addition to the advertising programs that are also part of Nike’s promotional mix.

Nike Inc. uses public relations as a way of communicating about social issues linked to its business. The company experiences social pressure regarding business sustainability, as well as employment practices in outsourced manufacturing operations. These business and social concerns are included in Nike’s corporate social responsibility strategy and stakeholder management approaches. In this way, the marketing communications mix also serves as a complementary approach to the corporate citizenship of the sporting goods business. The design of public relations efforts, particularly charitable contributions, represents Nike’s organizational culture or corporate culture. Cultural characteristics affect workers’ support for charity work and, thus, influence this part of the marketing communications mix of the footwear, apparel, and equipment company.