Miller told the publication that he shot an 18-year-old named Edward White following a gang fight in West Philadelphia. Miller was 16 at the time, and in a gang called Cedar Avenue, he said.
Miller’s friend, who Miller considered “an innocent,” was stabbed to death in the fight, he said. Later that month, Miller and others went out looking for anyone affiliated with the rival gang, and shot the first person they encountered, he said.
He said he didn’t know White and wasn’t sure whether White was even connected to the rival gang, which was called 53rd and Pine.
“We were all drunk,” Miller told the publication. “I was in a haze.”
He spent most of his teens and 20s in prison or juvenile detention facilities, he told Sports Illustrated, including for his role in the teenager’s death.
“By the time I was 16, I was just a straight-up gangbanger, thug,” he said. “I was drinking every day.”
He had tried to hide his criminal past from friends and colleagues, he said, before recently telling some of the people close to him.
“If I could go back and undo it, I would absolutely do that,” Miller said. “I can’t. So all I can do is try to do what I can to help other people and try to maybe prevent this from happening to someone else.”
Miller, who also spent five years as the president of the NBA team the Portland Trail Blazers, told the publication that he had been a “straight-A student, teacher’s pet,” but that he joined the Cedar Avenue gang, in West Philadelphia, aged 13.
Miller said that while in prison, he studied for an accounting degree with Temple University. After he left prison, he almost got a job with accounting firm Arthur Andersen, but after he disclosed his criminal past in a final interview, the company’s hiring partner changed their mind on offering him a job, Miller said.
From then on, Miller tried to keep his crime a secret, which led to recurring nightmares and migraines, he said.
After roles at Kraft Foods and Campbell Soup Company, Miller became vice president of Nike Basketball in 1997, then president of the Jordan brand in 1999, and then president of the Trail Blazers in 2007.
He returned to the Jordan brand in 2012, and is currently chairman.
Miller kept it a secret from his friends and colleagues
Miller told Sports Illustrated that he had previously kept his past concealed from some of his children, who he eventually told around 2003.
He had also kept it a secret from his close friend Michael Jordan, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, and Nike founder Phil Knight.
But he told the publication that he’d been increasingly speaking out about it this year, and would recount it in his upcoming book, “Jump: My Secret Journey From the Streets to the Boardroom.”
Miller said that by coming forward, he could now freely speak to at-risk youth and prisoners and try discourage them from violence.
He had told Jordan, Silver, and several Nike executives within the past several months, he said.
Miller said that the people he had told had reacted positively to the news.
Nike CEO John Donohoe told Sports Illustrated: “Larry Miller has played an influential role in Nike history and is a beloved member of the Nike family.
“I hope his experience can create a healthy discourse around criminal justice reform, by helping remove the stigma that holds people and communities back,” Donohoe said.
The Bureau’s analysis, which was shared with The Observer, focused on 60 sites and spanned three months. Ads for many household names – both in the US and UK – featured on such sites, it found.
The companies whose ads were displayed appear to have unwittingly helped fund sites that spread false COVID-19 information, The Observer added.
Ads for Amazon services were discovered on more than 30 sites that distributed fake news, including ones making baseless claims about Bill Gates, according to The Observer. The Microsoft cofounder has regularly been the subject of vaccine conspiracy theories.
Amazon and Nike did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
According to the report, Honda, Walgreens, and eBay were also among those whose ads were found on misinformation-spreading sites.
A spokesperson for American Honda told The Observer: “We are currently working to determine how our advertising may have appeared on the websites in question. We would never support Covid misinformation or knowingly allow our advertising on such websites.”
The analysis found that the ads were being placed through the “opaque by design” digital advertising market, which is estimated to be worth more than $455 billion this year.
Even before these revelations surfaced, Amazon was facing scrutiny in relation to COVID-19 misinformation.
Books about hoax COVID-19 cures and anti-vaccination claims are frequently featured as top sellers on the digital retailer’s site. As a result, US lawmakers are investigating the issue, Insider Bethany Dawson reported.
There are a few of reasons people will regularly miss out on hyped sneakers drops. But odds are, it’s because of a bot.
In the sneaker resale world, a “bot” refers to a software application that expedites the online checkout process and helps resellers nab hyped pairs in seconds – including limited-edition drops and collabs.
When sneakers are released in limited quantities, it’s often a race to see which sneakerheads can input their credit card information on a website or app the fastest in order to checkout before the product sells out. Bots are specifically designed to make this process instantaneous, offering users a leg-up over other buyers looking to complete transactions manually.
Though bots are notoriously difficult to set up and run, to many resellers they are a necessary evil for buying sneakers at retail price. The software also gets around “one pair per customer” quantity limits placed on each buyer on release day.
As the sneaker resale market continues to thrive, Business Insider is covering all aspects of how to scale a business in the booming industry. And bots are a major part of that. From how to acquire and use the technology to the people behind the most popular bots in the market today, here’s everything you need to know about the controversial software.
Acquiring a bot
Bots, like sneakers, can be difficult to purchase. Most bot makers release their products online via a Twitter announcement. There are only a limited number of copies available for purchase at retail. And once sold out, bots often resell for thousands of dollars.
Some private groups specialize in helping its paying members nab bots when they drop. These bot-nabbing groups use software extensions – basically other bots – to get their hands on the coveted technology that typically costs a few hundred dollars at release.
Once the software is purchased, members decide if they want to keep or “flip” the bots to make a profit on the resale market. Here’s how one bot nabbing and reselling group, Restock Flippers, keeps its 600 paying members on top of the bot market.
While bots are relatively widespread among the sneaker reselling community, they are not simple to use by any means. Insider spoke to teen reseller Leon Chen who has purchased four bots. He outlined the basics of using bots to grow a reselling business.
Most bots require a proxy, or an intermediate server that disguises itself as a different browser on the internet. This allows resellers to purchase multiple pairs from one website at a time and subvert cart limits. Each of those proxies are designed to make it seem as though the user is coming from different sources.
For example, “data center”proxies make it appear as though the user is accessing the website from a large company or corporation while a “residential proxy” is traced back to an alternate home address. Whichever type you use, proxies are an important part of setting up a bot. In some cases, like when a website has very strong anti-botting software, it is better not to even use a bot at all.
While most resellers see bots as a necessary evil in the sneaker world, some sneakerheads are openly working to curb the threat. SoleSavy is an exclusive group that uses bots to beat resellers at their own game, while also preventing members from exploiting the system themselves. The platform, which recently raised $2 million in seed funding, aims to foster a community of sneaker enthusiasts who are not interested in reselling.
We spoke to one of the group’s founders to hear about how members are taking on the botting community.
In many cases, bots are built by former sneakerheads and self-taught developers who make a killing from their products. Insider has spoken to three different developers who have created popular sneaker bots in the market, all without formal coding experience.
Splashforce, a bot that services nearly 4,000 customers, was created by an 18-year-old who had previously described himself as “dirt poor.” The teen founder and co-owner of Adept, another major sneaker bot, initially earned money via a paper route. Meanwhile, the maker of Hayha Bot, also a teen, notably describes the bot making industry as “a gold rush.”
Each of these self-taught bot makers have sold over $380,000 worth of bots since their businesses launched, according to screenshots of payment dashboards viewed by Insider.
Nike has given its corporate office workers a week off in an effort to help combat burnout.
The company shut down its headquarters last week to give staff some unexpected time off, according to a LinkedIn post from Nike’s senior manager of global marketing science Matt Marrazzo.
“Our senior leaders are all sending a clear message: Take the time to unwind, destress and spend time with your loved ones. Do not work,” Marrazzo wrote in the post.
Nike confirmed to Insider that the company’s corporate offices were closed from August 23-30 to “enable employees to enjoy additional time off to rest and recover.”
Marrazzo also noted in his post that Nike also follows summer Friday hours, which typically entails letting staff leave early or take off the entire day on Fridays from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
“In a year (or two) unlike any other, taking time for rest and recovery is key to performing well and staying sane,” Marrazzo’s post continued. “This past year has been rough – we’re all human! and living through a traumatic event! – but I’m hopeful that the empathy and grace we continue to show our teammates will have a positive impact on the culture of work moving forward.”
Clothing companies are having a hard time meeting customer demand amid strict lockdowns in Vietnam as COVID-19 continues to spread, Axios first reported.
Vietnam is a huge manufacturer for many American clothing brands, and as the virus continues to spread, companies are having trouble getting inventory in stock to keeping up with the demand for clothes now that restrictions have been lifted in the US.
“I would say our biggest concern right now is actually getting the inventory,” Richard Hayne, CEO of Urban Outfitters said in an earnings call Tuesday. “Not when it’s going to come in, or how much it’s going to cost. We are — we have a situation in Vietnam. I’m sure other people have the exact same situation where the country is completely closed.”
Vietnam had fewer than 2,000 cases prior to July of this year, but has since reported numbers topping 10,000 since the beginning of August, according to data from Our World Data.
Some of the biggest brands in the US get most of their goods from Vietnam, according to data from Bank of America. “Gap and Lululemon Athletica each source about a third of their production from Vietnam,” the bank’s analysts found. Nike sources 51% of its footwear and 30% of its apparel from the country,” Axios says.
With strict lockdowns underway, it’s become very difficult for brands to get the clothes they need.
“On the supply chain constraints, yeah, I’d say right now, it’s tough out there,” Scott Lipesky, Executive Vice President and CFO at Abercrombie & Fitch said in an earnings call Thursday. “All the articles you read are real and we’re all — those of us on this side of the fence are living through it every day.
But, the clothing supply chain isn’t the only industry taking a hit. Vietnam is the second-largest supplier of coffee beans in the world, and as the country remains under lockdown the supply chain is struggling to keep up with demand.
Earlier in March, Lil Nas X announced a collaboration with art collective MSCHF to create a line of novelty shoes inspired by the rapper’s music video for his song, “Montero (Call me by Your Name).”
The “Satan Shoes” collection, which featured 666 shoes containing a drop of human blood, received substantial pushback from religious conservatives who said the shoes were endorsing satanic values and homosexuality.
“Maybe [you] were mad for some other reason?” Lil Nas X ended the tweet, speculating the real source of the disparate criticism from Hawk had little to do with religion.
Lil Nas X called out an apparent a double standard that Hawk, a straight white cis man, received less pushback on his product unveiling from the public compared to him, even though both products essentially include the same controversial marketing tactic.
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Ideally, every gift you give should feel as though it were selected just for your recipient. If you’re looking to go the extra mile, gifting a personalized gift can make your selection feel even more special. These customized gifts can reference their interests, allow them to try something new, and even serve as a reminder of a past event or memory.
Due to the custom nature of these gifts, it’s likely that they will take a while to arrive. If your gift is expected to arrive late, you can order them a gift card instead, so your recipient can personalize the gift exactly to their liking. If you’re looking for more gift ideas, check out all of our gift guides here.
Here are 30 personalized gifts that feel special and unique:
If coffee nourishes their soul every morning, this La Colombe coffee gift offers a refined addition to their daily routine. This six-month subscription allows them to customize their favorite La Colombe coffee and preferred grind for the perfect blend.
If they’re a writer, list maker, or note-taker they’re sure to appreciate this personalized notebook from Papier. Choose from eight different color block patterns and lined, plain or dotted paper to make this gift feel even more personal.
Celebrate a special event or time by gifting them a snapshot of that night’s sky. Each map can be customized by color, text and font styles, and map shape. The seller will work with you to create a vibrant map that perfectly captures any moment.
A curated wine subscription that’s based on their tastes and preferences
If they’re new to the world of wine, gifting them a Winc subscription will help them choose their favorite flavors by testing several wines each month. Winc is one of our favorite wine delivery options due to its extensive selection and interactive wine quiz that each subscriber takes before receiving wines to try.
Help them save precious family recipes with this wood recipe board that’s available in maple or cherry wood finishes. Simply send over a scan of their favorite recipe and it will be transferred onto the board in the original writer’s handwriting.
This candle is a great way to thank the people you care about in a more personal way. Scented with lemon, cucumber, and patchouli, this candle adds a refreshing scent into any space. For an additional cost, you can add a personal message to the candle’s packaging or on the candle itself.
If their pet is more like family, this fun portrait of their favorite furry or scaly best friend is sure to make their day. Choose from three art styles and canvas sizes, and several background colors to make this gift even more unique.
This walnut photo calendar makes a beautiful desktop display. The personalized selection of photos makes an ordinary calendar feel more special, but choosing only 12 of your favorite photos could prove to be difficult.
Provide them with entertainment and sentimentality with this customizable gift. Choose their favorite picture of a vacation, an event, or even of themselves. This puzzle also comes with a customizable box.
With cross country travel being a distant memory, gift them these coasters so they can relive their favorite travel stories every time they use them. Add location captions to each coaster for an additional cost.
This stylish wallet will give your recipient a luxury experience at a relatively affordable price. The sleek wallet offers a surprising amount of storage and can comfortably fit five cards, cash and coins. It comes in seven shades and can be monogrammed for $15 to add personalization.
The sturdy, comfortable, and stylish apron becomes even more stylish and personal with the addition of embroidery on the apron chest or waist strap. You can choose from script or block font and a variety of colors. While we love the classic styles, now might also be a good time to take advantage of their limited edition aprons.
Grafomap is a website that lets you design posters with maps of any place in the world. You can make one of their hometown, college town, or favorite travel destination — you’re only limited by your imagination.
A gold letter charm from an ethical jewelry startup
AUrate makes beautiful, personalized letter charms that are meant to represent a no-compromise mix of quality, price, and ethical practices. They use luxury materials like 14-karat gold, original designs, transparent pricing, and sustainable production. In partnership with Mastery Charter, the startup has also given thousands of books to NYC students and schools.
A leather toiletry case they can take with them on the go for years to come
VNYL’s team of curators studies your music profile — assembled via a quiz and connected Spotify, Soundcloud, Instagram, etc. — to hand-pick new albums that they think you’ll love. Then, they send you a vinyl of their tailored pick to your door. If your giftee is a music-lover and has a record player, this is a cool subscription that will help them discover even more music to love.
Nike makes great products, and they’re popular for that reason. But it’s nice to get the benefits of the big budget, years of product development, and design team without forsaking what makes something unique. You can customize a pair of Nike’s for them, or gift them a gift card so they can get creative making something one-of-a-kind on their own.
A personal styling service that helps them build their closet
Shopping can be difficult and time-consuming, which is where the stylists at Stitch Fix come in. A great gift for busy people, the service delivers the newest trends and styles to fit any occasion and price point.
If they take pride in having nice tools or taking the necessary grooming routine as time for themselves, they’ll appreciate Harry’s luxe gift set. It can be engraved for $15, and the special Winston handle is weighty, die-cast zinc with a polished chrome finish. The German-engineered blades come with a travel cover so they don’t dull during travel, and the Foaming Shave Gel works up to a rich lather.
A coffee subscription that caters to their taste preferences
Driftaway is a gourmet coffee subscription that gets smarter the longer you use it — remembering your preferences and steering you towards increasingly accurate brews for your palette. The first shipment is a tasting kit with four coffee profiles, which users rate online or in the app for the site to use as a flavor baseline. If they love coffee, this is a great way to ensure they’ll discover new favorites and enjoy each morning cup.
A subscription that lets them try tea from all over the world
If they’re more of a tea person, there’s a personalized service for them, too. Sips by takes their tastes and matches them to four tea brands (chosen from more than 150 tea brands around the world) each month. There’s enough tea to make more than 45 cups of tea (if they re-steep) — the perfect amount to keep them warm and cozy through the winter.
Bath towels embroidered with a monogram or full word
Weezie’s soft and fluffy organic cotton towels are already gift-worthy on their own. To make them even more covetable, add embroidery. You can go with the classic monogram in a variety of eye-catching styles, or spell out an entire name in a cursive script. There are a few embroidery colors that are more unique, like bright pink and mint.
Get their favorite lyric, poem, or quote printed for them so they can be reminded often of something that inspires or brings them joy. It’s especially special that you remembered what it was. Minted is a cool company that curates what it carries based on design competitions, with the Minted community voting on what is eventually sold — but, if you’d like more options, Etsy also has great ones.
A zodiac necklace that mixes luxury with personalization
Mejuri‘s popular zodiac necklaces are a great way to gift jewelry that manages to feel both luxurious and intimate — something that can be lacking in refined gifts. The Canadian startup as a whole is a unique mix of approachability and elegance, which may be why they’re known for waitlists that top out at 40,000 people.
To get their personalized hair care, they’ll start with a quiz that asks them about their hair concerns and needs. The final formulation they receive addresses those needs and is also free of parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, and GMOs. Plus, the bottle labels will feature their name.
During the Olympic trials in June, US sprinter Sydney McLaughlin broke the world record in the women’s 400-meter hurdle event, finishing in less than 52 seconds. Then on Wednesday, McLaughlin broke her own record by almost half a second at the Tokyo Olympics. The next runner to cross the finish line also broke McLaughlin’s June record, yet had to settle for silver.
It was the same story on the men’s side: The winner and runner-up of the 400-meter hurdle final both smashed the previous world record.
All four of these runners, as well as many others this year, were wearing a relatively new type of shoe technology known as super spikes.
“If we look at the whole landscape, most people are convinced these ‘super spikes’ are definitely a factor,” Laura Healey, a researcher in Puma’s footwear innovation department, told Insider.
Super spikes are any track and field shoes that utilize the combination of a stiff plate and pliable foam to give runners more energy back with each footfall. Nike debuted the first such spikes in 2019, forcing companies like Adidas, Puma, New Balance, and Saucony to design their own versions.
These new spikes are changing what’s possible on the track, though that’s leading some former and current track stars to worry about the integrity of the sport. Here’s how super spikes work.
Lightweight, resilient foam is the key to energetic efficiency
In the past, spikes were designed simply to protect the bottom of a runner’s feet and give traction (spikes, in this case, refers to shoes, not the tiny pointed pieces of metal of the same name). They were made to be as light as possible, with almost no foam – “kind of like functional sandals,” Geoff Burns, a sport performance researcher at the University of Michigan, told Insider.
That’s because older types of foam were heavy; think of the ethylene vinyl acetate that’s used in exercise mats, for example. So every 100 grams of foam meant about a 1% loss in energetic efficiency. But then came new foam formulations like Nike’s ZoomX, which uses polyether block amide, or Pebax, foam. Pebax is almost miraculously lightweight.
“It was mind-blowing, and allowed shoe companies and scientists to rethink their assumptions,” Burns said. “What a shoe could do for the body changed.”
The new foam is softer than its predecessors – offering athletes more comfort as it’s compressed – and remarkably resilient. After ZoomX foam gets squished, it bounces back to its original shape, returning 85% of the energy that the runner used to compress the foam. (By comparison, ethylene foam gives back between 60% and 70%.)
“That’s why we didn’t see super spikes until now,” Healey said. “Previously, the foam wasn’t resilient enough to merit adding it into the shoe.”
The super spikes’ other key component, stiff plates made of carbon fiber or hard plastic, help sprinters run on their toes. Most people run heel-to-toe, striking the ground with the back of their foot then rolling forward to push off with their toes. But that’s an energetically costly process that involves slowing down with each step, according to Kyle Barnes, a marathoner and movement-science researcher at Grand Valley State University in Missouri.
Barnes told Insider that when he tried Nike’s ZoomX Dragonflys, a super spike Nike released a year ago, the shoes instead “teeter-tottered” forward, keeping him running solely on his toes and midfeet.
“Like a glorified version of falling down a hill,” he said.
Are super spikes fair?
Since Nike released its first super-spike prototypes in 2019, runners using the shoes have broken records in the 1,500-meter, 5,000-meter, and 10,000-meter events, Outside Online reported. Although other brands now utilize similar designs, some athletes are still concerned that Nike shoes confer an unfair advantage.
After Norwegian sprinter Karsten Warholm won the men’s 400-meter hurdle event in Tokyo, he criticized his US opponent Rai Benjamin – who placed second – for wearing Nike Air Zoom Maxfly super spikes. Maxflys have a component that Nike calls a “Zoom Air unit” under the forefoot: a springy, pliable cushion that helps runners conserve more energy per footfall.
Warholm, who is sponsored by Puma, called the technology “bulls—,” comparing the soles to trampolines and saying the shoes take credibility away from the sport.
Healey said that although Warholm’s Puma super spike has a carbon-fiber plate similar to Nike’s, Nike’s air unit “has a higher energy return than foams, and Nike has patented this tech.”
Nike, meanwhile, told Insider that the same three components – carbon fiber, foam, and air – have all been used in running shoes for decades, both Nike’s and others.
“We’re just smarter about how we engineer and assemble them,” the company said.
Usain Bolt, too, has complained about super spikes, though he did not call out Nike specifically. Bolt, who won the men’s 100-meter and 200-meter sprints at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics, said super spikes give current runners an advantage over previous record-holders.
“It’s weird and unfair for a lot of athletes,” Bolt told Reuters.
None of the super spikes in use at the Tokyo Games violate any rules, according to guidelines from World Athletics, the international governing body of track and field.
Burns said super-spike technology probably matters less for shorter races, including the 400-meter, since energetic efficiency is less of a factor when a race is over in under a minute.
“Sprinting is constrained by absolute power output,” he said.
Nike’s spikes could be 2% more efficient – but other shoes are in the same ballpark
According to Burns, Nike’s super spikes are essentially pared down versions of the company’s successful Vaporfly shoe, which have changed the marathon world over the last five years.
“It’s the same basic recipe,” he said. “They’ve taken their lessons from the road shoe and adapted them to the track.”
Vaporflys are the road-running versions of super spikes – they also have a stiff plate and resilient foam. A Nike-funded study by independent researchers found the shoes confer about 4% more energy efficiency per footfall. Athletes using Vaporflys dominated the Rio Olympics in 2016, as well as every major long-distance road race thereafter.
Competing companies scrambled to catch up to the Vaporfly tech, then had to do so again after Nike debuted its first super spikes Burns thinks the Olympics’ year-long delay bought those competitors time to catch up.
“Had the Olympics happened last summer, this would’ve been a joke,” he said.
Nike’s spikes don’t come with a neat number like the Vaporfly’s 4% energy savings, since that figure was calculated based on how much oxygen athletes suck in and carbon dioxide they let out. That measure becomes meaningless when runners cross from aerobic exercise – which uses oxygen – into anaerobic work, which doesn’t. Almost all sprinting is anaerobic.
Still, Burns estimated Nike’s super spikes might confer about an energy advantage of 1.5% to 2%.
“When I look at the 1,500-meter result, in the back of my mind I’m thinking two to three seconds faster,” he said, adding, “I hate to say it, it’s sort of become an arms race.”
Nike, for its part, said runners’ achievements are never about their shoes alone.
“Time and again, we’ve proven in our labs that Nike racing shoes and spikes provide measurable benefits – but ultimately, it’s the athletes on the track and on the roads who validate our work,” the company said.
Plenty of athletes are winning medals wearing non-Nike shoes. In the men’s 110-meter hurdle race on Thursday, runners wearing Puma, Adidas, and Nike took the the top three spots – in that order. The men’s 400-meter winner was wearing Adidas spikes, and the 200-meter winner wore Pumas. When she broke the 400-meter hurdle world record, McLaughlin was wearing New Balance.
Healey said a lot of new super spikes confer an advantage that’s in the same ballpark as Nike’s.
“It doesn’t seem to be all Nike shoes on the podium,” she said. “We’re in a new era of super spikes.”
Brooklyn Nets basketball player Kyrie Irving is not a fan of the newest Nike shoe sporting his name, according to his verified Instagram account.
“I have nothing to do with the design or marketing of the upcoming Kyrie 8,” Irving commented on an Instagram post showing leaked photos of the shoes. “These are trash! I have absolutely nothing to do with them! Nike plans to release it without my okay, regardless of what I say, so I apologize in advance to all my sneaker heads and true supporters.”
Fans of Irving expressed disappointment around the claim that Nike did not “involve him in this design of his own signature shoe” after his past designs were best-sellers for the retailer. Nike did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
A post shared by Kai X Kicks 𓂀 (@k11kicks)
Irving signed with Nike in 2011, with Kyrie branded shoes launching three years later. Since then, Nike has created six signature shoes as part of Irving’s sponsorship deal.
On StockX, the highest Kyrie shoe resale bid is $4,000 for the Kyrie 3 Mountain Dew K.A.R.E Kit. The Kyrie 7 Expressions shoe sells for an average of $219 on the site.
“This quarter’s launches in basketball, including the LeBron 18 and the Kyrie 7, have sold incredibly well,” Nike CEO John Donahoe said in an earning’s call last year. “I’m particularly excited that both were launched digital-first.”
Nike’s latest quarterly performance was more than the business equivalent of a slam dunk – it was a financial alley-oop. When the game tilted in its favor in the fourth quarter, the company ran its play with a risky setup that finished with a flourish.
After making a radical shift to its business model four years ago, the Oregon-based shoe and apparel maker came through the pandemic with the best fiscal quarter in its 50-year history, raking a profit of $1.5 billion on total sales of more than $12 billion.
“These are times when strong brands can get stronger, and each quarter this reality becomes even more clear,” CEO John Donahoe said in an earnings call on Thursday.
Pent-up demand and a strong consumer market certainly helped Nike along, but GlobalData retail analyst Neil Saunders said the company wasn’t just lucky.
“You have to give credit where credit is due, because not everyone is seeing quite such an uplift,” he said. “Nike’s strategy is good and it’s right, but the market is also very strong, so the combination of the two produce very good results.”
Here are five reasons Saunders says Nike is performing so well this year.
1. People want to treat themselves and stay active after a hard year
Up first is the simple fact that companies generally do better when people have money to spend, and US consumers are flush with stimulus cash and other savings from a year of uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“That is translating into a lot more spending, especially on products that people buy to treat themselves,” Saunders said. “People like new pairs of sneakers.”
Not only that, but consumers desire to stay active and healthy means Nike’s products are some of the first items on their shopping lists.
2. Retailers still love the swoosh
Even though Nike has been shifting more to a direct-sales model, consumer demand for the brand gives retailers a lot of reason to load up on the company’s products.
“A lot of retailers are very confident about continued spending and they’re putting a lot more money into buying inventory to make sure that they have enough stock, so that’s been very helpful to Nike,” Saunders said.
3. Sneakerheads are big fans of special editions and collectibles
Saunders also said Nike has also enjoyed a small but helpful lift from the resale market. The company’s ability to tap into its fans’ appetite for new designs to trade in secondary marketplaces has been a good source of sales over the past few quarters.
4. Nike is connecting more directly to customers
The cornerstone of Nike’s pre-pandemic strategy has been a greater emphasis on cutting out the retail middleman – even Amazon – and selling directly to customers.
This has not only helped improve profit margins, Saunders said, it helps create a stronger connection with customers.
In the call with analysts, CEO Donahoe said called it a “virtuous cycle” of consumer insights that influences everything from product design to inventory management.
5. The SNKRS app is making the brand more sticky
Nike has made a major push into the digital space with its SNKRS app that blends content and commerce in a major way.
The app experienced nearly 80% growth in monthly active members from March-to-May and now boasts 300 million members, but Saunders says its a longer term play.
“They want to be able to engage with their customers more frequently understand their fitness and health habits, so it’s all about creating stickiness around the Nike brand,” he said. “Obviously an app is the perfect way to do that.”
“It is a very interesting play, but I think it’s a slower burn,” he added.