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nikeFIT (v. 0.1) by C Barlow + T Tidwell

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Making sustainability achievable on a global scale by making it experiential on a human scale.



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1.1 Research

  • Producers often externalize the costs of doing business to the environment—to the detriment of every member of the human community.
  • Consumers similarly typically "externalize" the responsibility for large-scale environmental problems to large entities such as governments, NGO's, and megacorps. 
  • Nike is arguably the world's most recognizable, admired, and popular apparel company.

1.2 Analysis

  • Environmental problems are inaccessible to the ordinary individual insofar as their solutions require an embrace of what is simultaneously most "micro" and "macro" about the human experience.
  • Unsustainable material production is only half the equation for how "materials matter". The other half is over-consumption and the reckless production of material waste.
  • As the market shifts to an "experience economy", highly marketable experiences will become appreciably more profitable than material goods.

1.3 Proposal

Given our research and analysis, we believe that Nike should invest its immense reserve of human capital directly into small-scale human experiences that, in aggregate, will substantially contribute to global material sustainability.

Nike should re-launch two of its current initiatives—Nike+ and Nike Run Clubs—as a single community platform built around the idea for allowing users to "experience" material sustainability. Crucially, the new platform should tap into the primary and universal human drive to preserve the health, beauty, and desirability of one’s most intimate goods and personal property.

In the new platform, which we call nikeFITusers will build overlapping local, national, and global communities around a shared vision for experiencing material sustainability. Nike will inform, equip, and inspire thousands of these "little platoons" to address environmental problems that would otherwise remain psychically and socially inaccessible to the individual, the local community, and the global community.


What actions do you propose?

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2.1 The Emotional Journey of an Ideal User (Steps 1 - 12)
2.1.1 Browse (step 1)
     2.1.2 Purchase (step 2)
     2.1.3 Register (step 3)
     2.1.4 Plan (step 4)
     2.1.5 Track (step 5)
     2.1.6 Score (step 6)
     2.1.7 Recover (step 7) *not pictured*
     2.1.8 Connect (step 8)
     2.1.9 Compete (step 9) *not pictured*
     2.1.10 Synthesize (step 10)
     2.1.11 Commit (step 11)
     2.1.12 Recycle (step 12)

2.2 Conclusion

2.1 The Emotional Journey of an Ideal User

The heart of nikeFIT is the idea that a large-scale, educated, and active consumer base—working around the clock, around the world, in self-organizing groups, toward a shared vision—can substantially move the needle on issues of environmental sustainability. 

nikeFIT is designed to achieve this outcome by providing the experiential bridge between the individual/community and issues of environmental sustainability. 

Crossing any bridge takes a certain number of steps. On the customer journey map above, each icon that appears along the horizontal axis represents a separate step. If we follow these steps, one to the next, we will understand how an individual user (or community of users) would experience nikeFIT under ideal conditions.

Some further points of note before we begin:

  • The location of each circle that appears above or below the horizontal axis on the map indicates a positive or negative experience. The further "north” of the horizontal axis on the map the more positive the emotional response, and vice versa. 
  • The size of each circle denotes the intensity of the emotion in question. A larger circle indicates a more intensely felt (and thus more memorable) experience.
  • There are two key buy-in periods for nikeFIT customers. These are represented on the map by the lightly shaded columns and each will be elaborated as we continue.


2.1.1 Browse

Imagine you are a potential Nike customer. You are busy browsing for a new pair of athletic shoes in your local sporting goods store. A store clerk appears and invites you to download the nikeFIT app on your mobile device. To unlock a 10% discount on "anything Nike in the entire store", he offers. Curious, you do as the clerk suggests. He further invites you to use the app to photograph a couple Nike products on the racks and shelves. Delightfully, the products are instantly recognized as your iPhone's camera passes over them. Helpful and highly organized pricing and performance data appears on the screen. Everything arrives with the alluring suggestion that it could be personalized to your sport, ability, and level of interest if you choose to continue to interact with the app over time.

You have narrowed down your sneaker search to two pairs. A data-rich, stylized X-ray view of each product appears on your iPhone screen. Facts and figures and stories about both products are beamed directly to your device; they hover unobtrusively on the periphery of your screen. You click on a cartoon infographic. You are about to purchase a shoe of superior athletic performance. Think about this, too: compared to last year's line of Nike Eco-one, 25,000 metric tonnes of carbon was saved in production of this shoe. If you bought a shoe like this every year for the rest of your life, you would be buying enough oxygen to keep you alive on Mars until you were 103. And maybe your dog, too, if you are not Yao Ming and she is not an English Mastiff.

You become vaguely aware that the Nike browsing experience has been be trying to tell you something. Is it delicately suggesting that a kind of "going steady" relationship between you and your piece of apparel should develop after point of purchase? Weird. But, actually, you don't mind any presumption in that. Because nikeFIT has demonstrated that it has your interests in mind. If NikeFIT turns out to be an end-to-end-materials-and-me-relationship-builder, introducing you to a pair of shoes today, and, one day, helping you to say goodbye... Well, you could be down with that. Maybe.

Anyway, those stats and visuals were really helpful.


2.1.2 Purchase

Lest the reader feel put upon, we will abandon the story-telling conceit from this point forward!

The nikeFIT experience continues at the point of sale, and every customer is given an opportunity to register their product, thereby officially joining the platform. The registration process is easy, frictionless, and fast. An alphanumeric code from the store clerk sources data from your credit card, creating a basic account. 

The nikeFIT is, and always will be, free. The product includes the app itself and one wearable wristband that syncs biometric, environmental, and performance data with the app. (More sensitive sensors and more granular data acquisition is available, at cost, through "smart" clothing.)


2.1.3 Register

Registration is the first critical buy-in period. Though it is encouraged at the POS, registration can happen at any time the user chooses.

When a user registers, they are invited to add as much detail to their profile as they like, along any time frame that they are comfortable. Public "sharing" settings will be progressively unlocked at the user's discretion as the user becomes familiar with the app over time.

The registration process is also not explicitly environmentally themed. Rather, a global human ecosystem is made apparent here. Registration subtly joins the user in membership to a world-wide community—disclosing the exciting idea that a community they have just joined is budding, before their eyes, in real time.

No options to connect personally with other users have yet appeared. Those, too, will need to be "unlocked." 

A logged history of Nike purchases also begins here. The app begins library of past purchases, and a visual story embarks. That story may one day tell the user (and others of her choosing) how much and what type of product she is buying, and what for.


2.1.4 Plan

The planning phase introduces a points and rewards system that connects fitness goals to environmental metrics of success. This is a soft, associative exercise. It is more whimsical, and aspirational than didactic. (Please excuse the dry-as-dust graphic representation above!) The nikeFIT platform thereby educates the consumer about details of materials sustainability (e.g. 14 recycled water bottles = 1 performance jersey).


2.1.5 Track

nikeFIT acts like a gym or jogging buddy as much as it acts as a personal trainer and coach. The app matches its stride to yours: it analyzes as much data as you can through at it (environmental, biometric, and performance), and it feeds back stats that are suitable to your situation.


2.1.6 Score

nikeFIT users receive scores that help them track progress toward performance goals, environmental impact, or both. 


2.1.7 Recover

*not pictured*

nikeFIT will change consumers' relationship to their apparel. The goal is not to define the relationship only by things like social status, mythical brand cache, functionality. We want to heighten in consumer consciousness about the fact that there is a complicated relationship between a person's most diminutive and intimate things, their apparel, and their relationship to terribly massive events like climate change. Therefore, nikeFIT will, on occasion, raise the level of discomfort that people feel in their relationship between products and environmental problems. 

No good and believable story has ever been without a downturn, and the recovery phase will introduce negative emotional valence into the narrative. We want people to feel tension in their relationships, not just positive feedback. In this phase, you will not be reminded to work out, but reminded of the benefits to yourself and your community, particularly in terms of the environment, that you had achieved prior to this point. You will likewise be reminded how the problems and solutions in sustainability are bigger than you.


2.1.8 Connect

This begins the second critical buy in period, and here we come to the main purpose of the platform—the opportunity to interact with people in the user's community and across the globe on issues of sustainability. Through these networks the nikeFIT member is able to track fitness progress and receive encouragement from their community. 

From "Connect", forward, a higher level reiteration through the "Plan", "Track", "Score", and "Recover" steps occurs. The user is encouraged to connect to her local community (i.e. her apartment building or neighborhood block), her national identity (i.e. how her participation connects to a major upcoming sporting event like the Olympics), and her global citizenship (i.e. the latest positive data on global sustainability).

What aggregate effect has the user's local, national, and global sphere had on the environment since she began using the app? The answer to this question can be contextualized and made specific to the workout she enjoys or the sport that she plays.


2.1.9 Compete

*not pictured*

This stage builds an engaged community that is unified by friendly competition. Users build community recognition and collect a series of trophies. Community-issued challenges regarding reclaiming materials (old shoes, plastics) are be arranged at variable levels, from local to global, bringing together communities in unified action through friendly competition. 

This stage could be enhanced where a user's membership to a specific community is connected to celebrity endorsement. A celebrity could join a group that had been organized around fandom of a sports team and the celebrity's performance points could be added to that group. Or a user's peers nominate them (by up votes, likes, comments, etc) and they are picked for local, regional, national, global competitions.



2.1.10 Synthesize

*not pictured*

Actions extend beyond the digital platform and actualize in non-digital spaces, creating tangible experiences and outcomes for participants that serve to connect them with the materials they use every day. As the user begins to understand this, she is able to mentally, emotionally, and physically synthesize her actions, your community's actions, and the global nikeFIT community's actions around material impact.



2.1.11 Commit

At this stage the nikeFIT user has adopted a new set of behaviors that align with their increased awareness about how their behaviors connect to the broader community. The user is now educated, inspired, and activated. 

2.1.12 Recycle

Users to come away with a sense of "you did it!" but, more deeply, the idea that the sustainability cycle feeds back into itself and does not stop. Sustainability means interlocking systems, and participation in nikeFIT is a loop rather than a linear progression. At this stage, the consumer is exposed to the entire lifecycle of a product—including the "afterlife" of reclaimed materials.  

2.1.8 Conclusion

Oikophilia—a natural and universal human impulse toward the love of the things that you own, the desire to keep these things beautiful and desirable—is the heart of nikeFIT. Huge advances in sustainability could be made if people were encouraged to build upon their current local attachments and expand those attachments. FIT expands all the concentric circles of oikophilic attachment: the physical body, the communal tribe, and the entire planet. 

In part, oikophilia means an understanding of the physical materials in products and the lifecycle of these products. This gained deep knowledge and motivation about sustainable materials means educated consumers can shop across the apparel industry and support more sustainable choices.

But it also means "little platoons" of passionate individual contributors, who are informed in real time about the aggregate effect of their efforts, so that users can see the impact that the nikeFIT community is making toward sustainability efforts. 

Even more, a broad elevation in consumer consciousness and activism regarding materials sustainability, would, in turn, compel the global apparel industry toward prioritizing environmental sustainability.


Who will take these actions?

Individuals, local communities, national communities, and global communities. Motivated to take action or participate in coordinated efforts on local/ global scales that increase reclamation of materials and/or demand for sustainable materials.

Organizations. We imagine the potential for creative partnerships between Nike and environmentally focused NGOs and NPOs. These partnered organizations could issue challenges to the nikeFIT community while building awareness for larger environmental challenges. 

Where will these actions be taken?

Consumer education and interaction will take place over a digital platform but actions will occur in an individual’s familiar habitat (neighborhood, etc.) or within a larger regional designation. 

What are other key benefits?


  • Creates empowerment and motivation to actualize change at a small scale with potential to extend to broader communities.
  • Expands consumer awareness of materials and material value across the apparel industry.increases demand for materials with less environmental impact.
  • Develops consumers who understands full lifecycle of materials by learning about how Nike reclaims materials and gaining points every time they recycle their Nike apparel.
  • Broadens the Nike brand to encompass experiences rather than material goods only.

What are the proposal’s costs?

Nike has much of the necessary components upon which to build nikeFIT, however an investment in the development, marketing, and maintenance of the platform will be necessary.

Time line

Year 1-2: nikeFIT developed and launched and incorporates existing community of Nike+ and Nike Run Club (NRC) app users. Uses this community as a pilot.

Year 3-5: role out nikeFIT to online and retail store locations. Customers have the opportunity to join at POS.

Year 5 -10: nikeFIT is the premier athletic tech platform.

Related proposals


1)  Kirchain, Olivetti, Miller & Greene (2015). Sustainable Apparel Materials. Retrieved from

2)  Here's How Valuable The Wearables Business is to Nike. (2014, May 23). Retrieved April 16, 2016, from

3) Nike Fuel Lab Launches in San Francisco. (2014, April 10). Retrieved April 30, 2016, from

4) Morton, T. (2013). Hyperobjects: Philosophy and ecology after the end of the world. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

5) Dano, R.  Health and Fitness Wearables: Affecting Healthy Behaviors, Moving beyond Fasion. Retrived from: