Nike announced that it bought virtual sneaker company RTFKT for an undisclosed sum, as the sportswear giant looks to quickly expand its footprint in the fast-growing “metaverse,” reports CNBC. Formed in 2020, RTFKT also makes NFT collectibles and memes. The virtual products and experiences company uses technologies like augmented reality, blockchain authentication, NFTs and game engines to create "next generation collectibles."
Last month, Nike became one of the first big brands to enter the shared virtual world that gained prominence after Facebook, Inc. recently rebranded itself to Meta Platforms. The acquisition of RTFKT comes on top of several others Nike has made to improve its digital capabilities, including predictive analytics firm Celect and data integration platform Datalogue.
Total Retail's Take: Nike has been focused on expanding its digital (and direct-to-consumer) business heavily in recent years. The brand cut ties with several traditional brick-and-mortar wholesale partners earlier this year with the intention to grow its D-to-C sales through its digital properties. In fact, Nike is aiming for digital to make up the majority of its revenue, accounting for 50 percent of its business by 2025.
Just as we've seen with brands investing in social media platforms like TikTok, Nike is looking to make its mark on the metaverse before other retailers. The acquisition of RTFKT is "another step that accelerates Nike’s digital transformation and allows us to serve athletes and creators at the intersection of sport, creativity, gaming and culture,” Nike CEO John Donahoe said in a statement. The RTFKT purchase will give Nike a stronger foothold in the virtual spaces shoppers are beginning to interact in. The move is bold as the average U.S. consumer is just now beginning to figure out what a metaverse is, and how to interact with it, let alone taking the next step of purchasing virtual shoes using crypto currency. To say that Nike is an early adopter here may be an understatement, but it's a risk the company believes is worth taking.
Kristina Stidham is the digital content director at Total Retail and sister brands Women in Retail Leadership Circle and Women Leading Travel & Hospitality at NAPCO Media. She is passionate about digital media and handles video, podcast and virtual event production for all brands. You can often find her at WIRLC, TR, WLT&H or industry events with her camera and podcasting equipment—or at home on Zoom—recording interviews with thought leaders and business executives.
Kristina holds a B.A. in Media Studies and Production from the Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication in Philadelphia. Go Owls! When she's not in the office, she loves to go on long walks, sing around the house, hangout with her family and two pet guinea pigs, and travel to new places.