Subscription clubs for clothing, meals and razors have changed the way people shop. Now Nike is wading into the subscription market for the first time.
Nike announced Monday that it is debuting Nike Adventure Club, a sneaker subscription for kids ages two through 10. Nike will offer parents three options for their kids: four pairs of sneakers a year for $20 a month, six pairs for $30 a month or 12 pairs for $50 a month. Parents and kids will be able to choose from a selection of around 100 sneakers.
"This is probably one of the best examples of a major brand taking the attributes of a [direct-to-consumer] digital brand" and linking it to its broader strategy, said Bryan Gildenberg, chief knowledge officer at Kantar Consulting.
Nike is targeting time-strapped parents in the suburbs and rural areas who don't live near a shoe store with the program. The company says that dragging young kids to a store every few months to try on sneakers that they will quickly outgrow can frustrate parents. Shopping for kids' shoes online also brings sizing issues and return hassles, the company says.
"We've discovered a huge pain point for parents around shopping for kids' shoes," Dave Cobban, general manager of Nike Adventure Club, told CNN Business. "This was a great opportunity to experiment with different solutions."
Nike started piloting a sneaker club for kids two years ago. It grew to 10,000 members, and Cobban said Nike believes it's ready to unveil the service more broadly.
Nike Adventure Club is a key initiative for the company. Forty staffers are working on the concept. The service gives Nike a way to draw parents who are outside of its traditional big-city customer base and build a connection with young kids. Other online styling services and subscription companies such as Stitch Fix, Kidbox and Rockets of Awesome are also fighting to win parents and children in the $69 billion US children's clothing and footwear market.
Perhaps more importantly for Nike, its kids' sneaker club allows the company to test out the subscription market and potentially apply it to its adult shoppers.
Cobban noted that avid runners need to replace their shoes frequently and he mentioned the possibility of a marathon membership program.
"We're starting to think about what other athletes have problems that could be very easily solved by a subscription," he said. "This is the beginning of something pretty exciting for Nike."