Nike uses the Super Bowl and global events to showcase the diversity of retail in Los Angeles
When Super Bowl 56 MVP Cooper Kupp caught the game-winning touchdown at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood wearing a pair of custom Nike cleats, it was just a small part of the brand’s plan to use Los Angeles as a growth point.
Home to the company’s original store when Nike was known as Blue Ribbon Sports, Los Angeles has remained a focus for the brand for the past 50 years. Nike’s modern iteration in Los Angeles, however, has taken a diverse business approach, mixing retail styles, community investments and staff offices to place particular emphasis on LA Hosting a Super Bowl – and in the next few years, the College Football Playoff, Olympics in 2028 and possibly the World Cup – gives Nike the opportunity to highlight the growth of its strategy in Los Angeles.
“There’s a lot of heritage here,” says Vanessa Garcia-Brito, Nike’s vice-presenter of communications for North America. “(World-level events) are great because they bring energy. It’s almost a platform for connectivity.”
And connecting consumers to the product is always a goal. Nike does it in Los Angeles with a diversity of retail options across 10 stores, including a community-focused store in Watts, a Nike Live design in Glendale, and a flagship retail space for “all the Angelinos coming soon” at The Grove. Nike also just opened its new Los Angeles headquarters for staff in 2022, a 65,000 square foot campus that makes it one of the Oregon-based brand’s largest headquarters.
The Nike Live concept began in Los Angeles, first in 2018 with Nike by Melrose, then Nike by Long Beach in 2019 and the latest, Nike by Glendale in 2020. The most digital design in the Nike portfolio, stores feature -offline services, allowing consumers to buy online and collect in-store, digital returns and curbside collection. Nike members can also arrange one-on-one texting sessions with staff for product recommendations or come in-store to see the latest retail styles, especially for women.
“We try to stay really responsive to changing trends, staying really active,” Garcia-Brito said. “We’re learning more about her, trying to be really nimble and responsive.”
The Nike Live concept is growing. Already with three spots in Los Angeles, three in New York and two in San Francisco, expect Nike to open more throughout 2022. The Glendale location has been particularly popular with female consumers, says Garcia-Brito . Nike saw consumers buy something online, sometimes to make sure it didn’t sell out, then try it on in-store before taking it home. She says customers also want to buy something online and then visit the store to see what it looks like with other products.
Focusing on specific communities is nothing new for Nike, which has done so in a handful of locations around the world. But using the Nike Community Ambassador program and the Nike Community Investment Fund, the two community stores in Los Angeles, the Watts site opened in 2020 and a spot in East Los Angeles, highlight the ability of store employees to interact with the community. Nike compensates employees who volunteer in the local community and trains staff so they are equipped on how to create a more inclusive game to ensure young people in the community have the best possible experience. The stores host community events and clinics.
Nike also uses its grant program to distribute money to the community, distributed with the help of staff, “providing direction in their local communities, which is pretty cool,” Garcia-Brito said. Both stores give $50,000 a year in grants. To add to the donations, in February Nike announced Black Community Commitment grants to Los Angeles organizations Read Lead and Our Own Non-Profit, both for $50,000; ThinkWatts Foundation and Children Striving Together, both for $40,000; and $35,000 each for the Yetunde Prince Resource Center and the LA Jets Track Club.
The Grove, LA’s flagship outlet, tries to offer something for everyone. Opened in 2015 as the largest Nike store on the West Coast, it focuses on a broader retail offering, but mixed with experiences that fit the moment. During the lead-up to the Super Bowl, part of the space opened up to a Nike By You customization space for jerseys and football boots, an EA Madden lounge, a tunnel running experience, and even a station. manicure.
The space changes with the community, using major events, such as the Super Bowl, to showcase a specific product, but also able to highlight new products alongside experiences at other times, such as December when the Nike’s new dance line took center stage inside The Grove. .
Nike in LA
Nike’s history in Los Angeles dates back to 1967, when Blue Ribbon Sports opened its first outlet on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica. Since then the Nike Cortez was launched in Los Angeles, Nike entered Hollywood sponsorships and made moves to land on movie screens, launched Nike SB in the city and now sponsors eight of the professional sports teams from the city.
Garcia-Brito says that with consumers shopping in all different dimensions, having multiple ways to interact with the consumer in the Nike marketplace, whether online, in a connected store, or a traditional retail experience , simply keeps them connected to Nike. And in Los Angeles, where the LA84 Foundation says 82% of young people in Los Angeles play at least one sport, there’s an added incentive to tune in.
“You can arrange your experience on your terms,” says Garcia-Brito. “You decide how connected you want to be to the community, what community and what type of relationship you want.”
With a mix of retail space that continues to grow in Los Angeles, Nike’s new Los Angeles headquarters provides a “big playing field” to support that growth.
“It’s a key city for us,” says Garcia-Brito. “It’s really important that it’s part of our heritage. I don’t think we’ve ever considered whether there should be a headquarters in Los Angeles, it feels so natural to be part of the family. When we think about the future of the sport, LA is going to continually be a big part of it.”