“To bring in the web3 curious, you have to do it in a thoughtful and safe way,” notes Nike’s Ron Faris, one of the faces behind the brand’s new virtual .SWOOSH platform.
“When you think of web2, we often associate it with .com, but for web3, the first thing we did was lock down our own domains: .nike will be the place and .SWOOSH will be the home for all of Nike's virtual creations.”
For those unaware, .SWOOSH has been created as a home for all of Nike’s virtual goods. The first of its kind for the brand, members of the community will be able to collect, co-create, and interact with digital objects, shoes, and jerseys.
Eventually the community will be a place where people can trade these goods, as well as unlock special access to products, pre-orders, and IRL events. After its first drop of digital goods, the community will be able to participate in challenges to win free virtual products.
Faris kicks off his presentation to Highsnobiety with Nike’s learnings from RTFKT. As pioneers in web3, RTFKT “has written the blueprint” on the pillars of “community, co-creation, and loyalty”, which he notes are what Nike aims to accomplish with .SWOOSH.
Although RTFKT is a blue-chip project amongst web3 enthusiasts, Faris states that Nike has designed .SWOOSH to be for the “web3 curious.”
To welcome non-crypto natives, Faris says he wants to “create safe on-ramps.” As web3 adoption has been a struggle, Nike will be inviting more signature athletes and influential catalysts to tell their stories on .SWOOSH, highlighting that the digital community will help lead the future of sports.
The first batch of Beta testers will be able to register from Friday, November 18, with access codes being distributed to Nike’s diversity, equity, and inclusion groups.
To ensure the company follows through on its goal, it’ll be doing a six-city tour (including Atlanta, LA, Charlotte, Tallahassee, Louisville, and New York City) to help communities that aren’t the first to get new technology onto .SWOOSH.
In December, Beta testers will spend the first month going through an educational period, followed by .SWOOSH’s first collection drop in January 2023.
In asking Faris how important it was to follow the phygital utility that RTFKT has been using (where token-holders are given physical products via their digital goods) to incentivize non-crypto users, he states that “Nike’s going to try a bit of both. Not all virtual creations are going to lead to physical products, but some will.”
“Our goal is to test and learn what utilities resonate. It’s different selling a physical sneaker where everybody knows what they’re getting into, but what does it mean to own a virtual product? That’s the beauty of accelerating our culture of innovation, to test and learn what really sticks.”
For .SWOOSH, the first goal is to understand the behavior of how people engage with virtual products. Nike one day wants to bring highly sought-after products like Jordans, but first wants to figure out how those brands’ respective stories are told in this new digital canvas.
In many ways, Nike is still trying to understand the metaverse just like anyone else — which is why they need non-crypto people to join.
When asked the value of .SWOOSH for a Nike customer that’s never touched crypto before, Faris said: “There’s a growing number of our members and consumers that care about what they look like playing in virtual worlds almost as much as physical.”
“Our hope is to serve consumers wherever they’re playing their favorite games in virtual worlds. The cosmetic utility of being able to show off and flex what you’re rocking is pretty meaningful to express yourself in new realms we haven’t focused on before,” he added.
“We want to redefine what it means to be a creator. You don’t have to be a designer but anybody that has a perspective they want to express.”
In the future, people will be able to connect their external NFT wallets to .SWOOSH so they can trade digital items off the platform.
However, before any technical integrations, Nike wants its traditional customers to drop into its new digital home. During this crypto winter, .SWOOSH could be the exact spark that’s needed.