This commentary is available as text and video; enjoy both or either. Plus, the complete archive of FaceTime videos can be found here.
Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy, once again coming to you from Portland, Oregon ... for the last time this summer, I'm afraid. It has been one of the best summers of my life, and I'm sad to go.
So I was at this party a few weeks ago, and I was chatting with a young woman who works at Nike's corporate offices here, and I'm not sure how we got into it, but I mentioned to her that I'm unable to wear Nike sneakers because I have a wide foot - sometimes EE, sometimes EEEE, depending on the shoe. So I've been wearing New Balance for pretty much all my adult life, and am perfectly happy with them.
Well, she saw in me a challenge - and so she invited me to join her at the newly renovated Nike Store here in Portland, where she wanted me to interact with a computerized system called Nike ID ... she said that they'd be able to customize running shoes suitable for my feet.
Well, she was sort of right. The Nike ID system is very cool, and can be used to customize sneakers of all kinds either in the store or from home, choosing from a wide range of fabrics, styles and colors. There are some inherent drawbacks for a person like me - the system is a little clunky when it comes to identifying which shoes actually come in EEEE, and I'm not sure I;d actually spend the time doing it. This very nice woman said to me, "They don;t have this kind of system at New Balance," and she's right. But I also had to point out to her that for people like me, they don't need such a system - they have styles I like and sizes that fit me, and the whole process is a lot easier. That said, my 18-year-old daughter would not be caught dead in a pair of New Balance, and she'd love the system, and in the long run, her business is probably more important to Nike.
However, there was technology at Nike that I did find relevant and that really caught my eye. It is part of a system called Nike Plus, and essentially they've created gadgets like wristbands that measure your running time and distance and then communicate it to your iPad or iPhone so you can track your progress. Or sneakers that allow you to measure how fast you jump rope or how high you jump, which translates into how many calories you burn.
There's been a lot of this stuff talked about over the years, but I was fascinated to see it in action. I'm a middle aged guy with creaky knees, but I can certainly see the benefit in having one of those Nike Plus wristbands to keep track of what I'm doing - it seems a lot more seamless and lot easier to manage than some of the systems I've seen out there that do everything from measure your heartbeat to make you a cup of coffee for after your run.
Whether it is customized sneakers or technology that measures every step and almost every bead of sweat, this stuff fascinates me. It all points to a consumer who is going to expect more from every experience, want more from every experience, and is going to search for retailers and products that are relevant to these needs and desires.
Then, all retailers and manufacturers have to do is live up to those raised expectations.
Just do it.
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning, and as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: