US sports giant Nike has been awarded a patent on a design system potentially involving augmented reality – technology that overlays digital imagery onto the real world. The system would immerse users in computer-simulated environments, allowing them to customise trainers.
Technology is intrinsic to the sportswear sector - the use of innovative, lab-produced materials has been standard industry practice for many decades now. But things have moved on from workout leggings being more stretchy and sweat-resistant than ever before, sports fanatics are looking for more than this.
Sportswear brands need to use clever marketing to spark everyone’s attention. In the past it’s been through sponsoring events, launching guerrilla campaigns, entering into collaborations with designers or celebrities. Recently, they’ve also started incorporating technology into the design of their marketing strategies. Here are a few examples of how big sportswear brands have managed to use tech to stimulate media attention, add value to their product offering, and drive ‘brand love’ over the last month.
Reebok added a customisation program to its Union Square FitHub location. It’s called Local 1nk and it lets shoppers customise their merchandise purchases free of charge, using an innovative portable silkscreen printing device. Amidst its current crossfit craze, this is a cool way for Reebok to use technology (rather than bacon) to set itself apart from its’ competitors - whilst appealing to the masses.
Nike upped their ante with technology by introducing a vending machine that can only be operated with the Nike FuelBand. The so-called Nike+ FuelBox holds items such as socks and hats, and dispenses these when users plug in their FuelBand USB - if they’ve amassed enough points. It’s effectively allowing FuelBand users to turn their exercise units into a currency - a great incentive to use the FuelBand (or deterrent from buying one of the new fitness trackers out there) and a fun motivation to work out. Read more about the FuelBox here.
Then there’s Lacoste, who started dabbling in Augmented Reality for their spin-off brand LCST. In collaboration with Engine Creative, they created an AR app for in-store use that allows customers preview what a trainer would look like, without trying it on. It also lets users take a picture of the preview and share it on social media. Check it out here.
It was also interesting to see that Adidas lifted the restrictions they had placed on ecommerce distribution (read more about this here). The German sportswear brand has now joined competitors like Nike in being available for purchase over marketplace sites such as Amazon and eBay. They will enter into further direct competition with Nike when they launch their first wearable tech fitness accessory later this month. These steps may not be that innovative, but you gotta to start somewhere. We’re excited to see what the other big sportswear brands come up with in the future.
Reported by Anna Abrell