When I moved to Berlin almost 5 years ago, I had just begun running. I was not very fast and my stamina was near zero; not surprisingly as I had always loathed exercising. This time around, however, I was determined to keep going. Fast forward to early 2013. I had already developed a love for running when a friend from university told me that she had just become ambassador for this new running club – Nike was trying to motivate young women to work out more. She invited me to tag along for the kick-off event for new members, and, naturally, curiosity was awoken. Running together with lots of girls who are as passionate as I am about the sport? Count me in!
The kick-off event was amazing: Everyone got a t-shirt, there was food and music, you could have your picture taken and test Nike’s newest running shoe…And all that for free! Of course, there was a running track as the focus was on running together with the other girls. I was thrilled and very impressed. But see for yourself.
What is Club der Töchter?
In 2010, Nike had the idea to establish a running community that is exclusive to young women in German-speaking countries, and so, Club der Töchter (German for “Club of Daughters”) was born. Similar to its global sibling Nike+ Run Club, this community was built to allow for a real world brand experience, invariably linking products to customers’ everyday lives. Frequently, Nike organises sports events that encourage young women to get together with their friends and make new ones.
These include training runs for bigger events such as We Own the Night or the Nike Women’s 10k,as well as Nike Training Club classes at special Nike Studios located in larger Nike stores. Furthermore, challenges that are posted in the local Club der Töchter’s Facebook groups serve as motivation to run more often and push harder as the winning crew usually gets free merchandise. Those who “like” Club der Töchter’s Facebook page receive updates about events, challenges and new products. Brand ambassadors carry Nike’s message to their friends and also act as contacts for other women who want to join the club. They are the head of their own running crew that meets on a regular basis to exercise together. In order to see how well they are doing compared to others, the Nike+ Running App allows users to track their runs and displays a ranking that is based on monthly mileage. Hence, by creating an all-round experience which combines online and offline customer involvement, Club der Töchter encourages young women across Germany and Austria to become emotionally attached to Nike as a brand.
Why is emotional attachment important?
In today’s busy world, consumers suffer from information overload. How then are companies supposed to get their message to their customers if they are not willing or unable to listen? The answer is simple: Emotional branding. It encourages customers to attach strong positive emotions like love, companionship, resonance, trust or bonding to a certain brand. Any feelings created by a specific brand will differentiate it from its competitors, even though the products might be very similar. For example, loyal Nike customers will always prefer buying Nike running gear over Adidas, even if Adidas offers virtually the same gear at a similar price. Thus, emotional branding serves as a source of competitive advantage. Rossiter and Bellman’s 2012 study has shown that, although only about 25% of consumers are emotionally attached to a particular brand, this pays off in terms of the number of products purchased by these individuals. As people use specific products to realise their self-image and present themselves to the world as they want to be seen, it is important for companies to understand the three factors that affect motivation to buy branded products. First of all, self-esteem, i.e. how self-confident a person is, influences the purchase decision. Further, it is important to consider how aware the customer is about the need to fulfil social expectations. This is called public self-consciousness. Finally and most importantly, self-congruence is crucial. This means the more a brand resonates with the customer, the more likely he or she is to purchase their products. Companies can increase self-congruence by promoting high brand involvement and as customers become more involved with a brand, it will resonate more with them. Consequently, individuals’ attachment to that brand will rise, which will finally lead to buying action.
How does Nike use Club der Töchter for emotional branding?
Nike seems to have understood the need for high brand involvement really well. For me, Club der Töchter has created an image of Nike as an authentic, reliable, fun and innovative brand. By connecting with the brand online as well as offline, it became an integral in my daily life, while it also made me feel like my contribution was really important in developing the experience of Nike as a brand. The running club has allowed me and lots of other girls to get to know new people and make new friends, which created a feeling of community and encouraged team spirit. In summer 2013, I actually became an ambassador for Club der Töchter myself, which boosted my love for the brand even more.
Of course, if you get free running gear, you are very keen on telling all your friends about the amazing things that Nike does. What’s more, prior to the kick-off event I had no brand preference. However, Club der Töchter created a strong brand attachment in me and I believe it might have had the same effect on a lot of other young women. As a result, it seems like brand involvement is a good way to gain loyal customers. In fact, the more time you spent at Nike events, the more you felt obliged to wear Nike gear. Of course, no one forced you to buy anything, but because you wanted to belong to that group you also wanted to fit in visually. Although I haven’t lived in Berlin for a while now, I still think back to that time amicably and feel very much connected to the brand. In fact, Club der Töchter was so successful in attracting the attention of new potential customers that men started to demand a running club that would offer a similar experience. Consequently, Nike now focuses more on Nike+ Run Club, which allows men and women alike to be part of the Nike community.
Malär, L. et al. Emotional Brand Attachment and Brand Personality: The Relative Importance of the Actual and the Ideal Self. Journal Of Marketing, Vol. 75, No. 4, July 2011, July 2011, pp. 35 – 52.
Rossiter, J. & Bellman, S. Emotional Branding Pays Off: How Brands Meet Share of Requirements through Bonding, Companionship, and Love. Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 52, No. 3, September 2012, pp. 291 – 296.
Video by Videobuero, February 2013. Available from Vimeo.