Over five decades, Nike has built itself into one of the most iconic global brands, instantly recognized by its 'Just do it' tagline or its 'swoosh' symbol. The company is the world's leading sportswear brand, edging out competitors like Adidas, Puma, and Under Armour. Nike is also the most valuable apparel brand, generating over $44 billion in 2021.

Nike achieved its legendary status through innovative marketing tactics, emotional messaging, and athletic partnerships. The brand invests heavily in advertising, to the tune of $3.75 billion globally in 2019, with $1.47 billion spent on US campaigns. But ad spend alone is not responsible for the brand's success. 

Nike has spent years learning about its target market and the values its consumers hold dear. It then leverages all of the audience data to create targeted and compelling campaigns that drive sales. Most of Nike's ads don't even explicitly focus on a product; what Nike has learned is that selling the emotion associated with its brand is what wins over clients and increases brand loyalty.

Who is the target market for Nike?

The brand positions itself as a brand for athletes but pulls every consumer into the fold with its fundamental pitch: if you have a body, you are an athlete. This marketing approach allows the brand to cast a wide net and capture the attention of consumers who may not perceive themselves as athletes but want to. However, Nike is targeting a vast number of segments and audiences according to their product portfolio.

Nike Target Market Segmentation and Marketing

Knowing that proper segmentation is a key component for any advertising or marketing campaign's success, Nike divides its audience into four different groups by demographic, geographic, behavioral, and psychographic attributes.

Nike Demographic Segmentation 

Nike's target market covers a wide range of demographic segmentation. By spanning the generations, Nike taps middle-aged consumers who have disposable income and develops its relationship with younger audiences to ensure future growth and build life-long brand enthusiasts. 

The company targets both male and female consumers; however, it has made significant investments in its women's line over the last few years as the athleisure trend has dominated fashion trends.

Nike Geographic Segmentation

Even though Nike is sold worldwide, it relies heavily on geographic segmentation for its product lines and marketing campaigns as it knows culture and local weather dictate consumer purchases. 

For example, its warmest winter items aren't available in countries with more moderate temperatures. Another example of how the brand connects with different geographic regions can be seen in the athletes featured in campaigns. In the US, ads might show NFL superstars, whereas European and South American campaigns feature soccer players.

Nike Behavioral Segmentation

Nike leverages behavioral segmentation to build brand affinity and loyalty with consumers. This can be seen in their personalized email and social media campaigns. When people engage with and show ongoing interest in the brand on any platform, Nike retargets them on other channels. Nike uses the data and signals generated by consumer actions to refine its message and create strong consumer-brand relationships.

Nike Psychographic Segmentation

Nike's psychographic segmentation enables it to create, for example, a target market for sports apparel, a target market for sports equipment, and a target market for fitness apps. By refining consumers in this manner, Nike can pinpoint those most interested in running sneakers versus yoga pants. That leads to campaigns that feel far more personal and resonate more deeply with consumers than if they were targeted with irrelevant products.  

Nike Marketing Goals 

Nike may be a mega-brand, but its marketing goals are similar to every company's objectives. The brand is constantly looking for new ways to increase market penetration, eCommerce sales, and customer retention. 

However, one aspect that sets Nike apart from other brands is its ongoing commitment to increase community involvement and support local causes. While that may not sound like a marketing goal, the target market for Nike has responded positively to the brand's involvement and support of ethical and moral issues.  

Sports Enthusiasts in United States

US-based consumers who fall into the 'Sports Enthusiasts' category share many of the same traits as Nike's target market. Like Nike, the demographics show both sexes in the target segment, with men outranking women 67% to 33%. The Nike target market age group skews slightly wider than the Sports Enthusiasts segment, which shows that 84.5% of people are between 18 and 44. 

Although Nike hasn't released data around its device targeting segmentation, Start.io found that consumers identified as Sports Enthusiasts or Running Enthusiasts, both of which would be target audiences for Nike, overwhelmingly prefer Android devices.

Discover Consumer Insights and Audiences

For a marketing campaign to be successful, it must reach the right audience. Otherwise, you risk throwing valuable ad dollars at people who are irrelevant to your brand and products. 

Whether you want to check your assumptions, discover a new audience or find out more about an audience that you're already targeting, Start.io's Consumer Insights and Audiences tool will deliver the answers. This tool allows you to explore tens of thousands of user segments, filtered by categories and locations. You can perform an in-depth demographic audience analysis to uncover unknown audience insights, using them to create highly targeted campaigns that inspire action and inform business strategy.

Nike FAQs  

What demographic buys the most sneakers?

Data shows that in the US Millennials (24–39-year-olds) and Gen Z (9–24-year-olds) buy the most sneakers. Presumably, many Millennials are buying sneakers for their young children. Men still buy more sneakers than women, but the gap is closing.

What demographic buys the most Nike products?

Consumers between the ages of 15-40 buy the most Nike products, including sneakers, apparel, and sporting goods.

Who is Nike's competition?

Nike's biggest competitor is Adidas, but others include Asics, Puna, Under Armour, Fila, New Balance, and Sketchers. In terms of athletic apparel, Nike's competition includes Lululemon, Athletica, and VF Corporation.

Who makes more sales Nike or Adidas?

Nike generates more sales than Adidas. In 2020, Nike was valued at $34.4 billion, while Adidas was valued at $12.07 billion.