Nike and the future of manufacturing

Photo credit: Nike

Photo credit: Nike

VP of Content Tim Coulthard looks at Nike’s new concept store in Shanghai, which offers a glimpse of the future of hyper-local, personalised products that will shape the future of manufacturing.

As global sportswear giant Nike opens its new retail space in Shanghai this week, behind the branding and marketing, there is an interesting indicator of the future direction of manufacturing.

Shanghai 001: the first so-called House of Innovation, is a 41,5000 sq ft vision of where we might be heading as manufacturers and consumers - the era of personalisation, customisation and localisation.

Hyper-local product lines

The store carries a number of Shanghai-only products, tapping into the growing consumer demand for limited edition products. In the era of social media, younger consumers are increasingly looking for Instagram-friendly product lines.

Personalisation and customisation

At Nike, this consumer trend is met with one-to-one designer consultations allowing them to select their own colours, dyes and embroidery. At the moment this still has a whiff of gimmickry to it, but the development of 3D printing / additive manufacturing is unlocking new options for orthotics and styles, as well as cosmetic design.

Combining 3D printing with technology like smart factories, automation and Big Data is unlocking new worlds of possibility for manufacturing customisation. And the evidence suggests that consumers are increasingly prepared to pay for the privilege. Research by Deloitte in 2017 suggested that 22% of consumers are prepared to share personal data in exchange for greater levels of personalisation, and one in five would pay up to a 20% premium for the personalisation option. Significantly, those levels are higher among 16-24 year-olds, suggesting this market will grow with each generation.

Research from Epsom makes the bold claim that “the factory of the future will be a giant, mobile 3D printer that relocates and creates on demand”. That will push production back to a local, district-based context, all of which will have further implications for supply chains, logistics, warehousing and carbon footprints. The concept of airmiles could morph into “make miles” on products, which total up the combined distance travelled by raw materials and the products themselves to reach the customer.

Nike is not the first manufacturer to move into the personalisation and customisation space, but with further concept stores scheduled for launch around the world, the manufacturing world should watch the trend with interest.