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Last year, Nike fully embraced the metaverse as a brand. The strategic flagpole the retailer planted has been paying off ever since. The real-world icon is increasingly enjoying first-mover advantage across the metaverse. Nike Digital, the division that includes the company’s branded web3 ventures, brings in 26% of Nike’s total revenue as of time of writing. Just this past December, the company purchased NFT studio and digital fashion powerhouse RTFKT, which now operates under the Nike Virtual Studio umbrella.
As Nike calibrates its focus around driving new business with virtual products, the brand even trademarked the word “CryptoKicks,” which is the name given to their highly-hyped first-ever digital speaker drop, the RTFKT x Nike Dunk Genesis CryptoKicks. A full Web3 experience accompanied the release of the digitally wearable metaverse sneaker NFTs, as Nike leveraged a marketing build-up similar to their massively popular in-real-life product drops and fashion collaborations to promote the direct-to-avatar product.
Given the nature of the metaverse-wearable digital collection, and the fact that it was Nike’s first drop since acquiring RTFKT, a simple announcement still would have likely done enough on its own to generate hype and buzz to such a point that would sell out the CryptoKicks. But Nike’s reveal came months after owners of previous RTFKT NFTs were gifted free Nike-branded MNLTH NFT assets. The MNLTH NFTs sent their owners off on Nike-branded metaverse quests to learn more, eventually revealing to them the much heralded RTKFT x Nike Dunk Genesis CryptoKicks.
Based on Nike’s real-world Nike Dunk sneaker, the Ethereum-chain NFT wearable CryptoKick sneakers can change their look, called their “skin,” through another NFT add-on called Skin Vials. The eight artist-created Skin Vial NFTs range in rarity, and work on Nike’s virtual Dunks, as well as other compatible virtual sneakers, giving just one pair of NFT sneakers “thousands of possible looks.” Non-MNLTH NFT holders are able to buy CrypoKicks on the open marketplace, and the digital collectibles have already pulled in tens of millions of dollars in trading volume.
A key component of Nike’s metaverse-fueled direct-to-avatar virtual product sales approach is the launch of its own metaverse, Nikeland. Hosted within the immensely popular Roblox platform and metaverse, Nikeland has already received almost 7 million direct visits from 224 countries since its launch. Nikeland is free to access, and stocked with minigames. Users are encouraged to outfit their avatars with digital versions of the newest Nike product drops, and shoppers are able to purchase Nike CryptoKick and skins directly for their avatars.
Nikeland also serves as a host to exclusive digital events with Nike partner celebrities and sponsored athletes like LeBron James.
This article originally appeared in the PSFK iQ report, Fashioning Virtual identity.