When University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman poured rubber onto a waffle iron one day in 1971, he had no idea he was about to change not only the athletic shoe industry, but the entire world of sports. His original idea was to create a good American running shoe for one of his top runners. This waffle shoe that Bowerman created was the most innovative shoe of that time and marked the beginning of Nike in the athletic shoe industry. Bowerman, along with Phil Knight, an Oregon track star who Bowerman coached, founded Nike that year. The name Nike comes from the Greek Goddess of Victory, which symbolizes Nike's marketing attitude. The company's now-proven strategy of building superior products around popular athletes has forever changed the face of sports marketing. As running became less popular at the beginning of the 1980s and basketball began to gain popularity, Nike began focusing its marketing attention on basketball shoes. Using Michael Jordan to endorse their basketball shoes, Nike was able to communicate with its consumers effectively and subsequently, profits skyrocketed. While standing on the top of the shoe industry, Nike continues to look for ways to increase profits by expanding its target market and penetrating different areas of the sports industry both in the U.S. and globally as well. Although the global market is a large part of Nike's marketing campaign, the context of this paper focuses on the marketing components related to the U.S. market.
There are many environmental factors and forces in the U.S., which affect Nike's marketing plans and pose as threats to the company. The demographic environment is a major factor that Nike's marketing department must deal with, because it deals directly with people, who make up the market they are trying to sell to. For years, Nike targeted young men and teenage boys with sports heroes like Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson, while paying little attention to a much broader audience, which included women.