Dive Brief:

  • Nike China and Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai have teamed up to produce a three-minute game that allows customers to try out Nike’s Epic React shoes on a treadmill in stores in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, Adweek reports.
  • Customers trying out the shoes create an avatar to navigate a virtual world dubbed Reactland, where they can bounce on clouds and encounter pandas and frogs, according to a video released by Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai.
  • They can also share 10 seconds of their experience on social media, according to the report.

Dive Insight:

Wieden + Kennedy and Nike have been playing around — literally — with gamification since at least 2002, and the latest effort in Chinese stores is taking it to the next level. It’s part of a wider effort by many retailers to leverage playful tech like VR to entice customers.

“VR will likely remain as the ‘icing on the cake’ for most applications, and in shopping it will most likely be constrained to an in-store experience for the foreseeable future,” Coresight Research CEO Deborah Weinswig wrote in a recent report. “Yet, as consumers are looking for more experiential shopping experiences and gamification has proven to be an effective tool to attract and retain customers, we expect more retailers to experiment and deploy VR shopping solutions in 2017.”

Nike, like Under Armour, is under pressure as Adidas soars of late, and is staking much of its growth overseas. By geography, on average over the next five years, the company expects to grow North America sales in the mid-single digit range, Europe, Middle East and Africa in the mid-to-high single digit range, Greater China in the low to mid-teen range, and Asia Pacific and Latin America in the high single-digit to low double-digit range.

The company is also turning to women, both as designers and customers, to boost sales. That has been complicated in recent days as Nike grapples with reports of what it has called unacceptable behavior on the part of top executives, including Nike brand president Trevor Edwards (previously seen as the successor to Nike CEO Mark Parker) and Vice President Jayme Martin, who was vice president and general manager of global categories for the company and oversaw much of the women’s business.

However, global growth “remains strong and broad based,” according to a Wedbush note emailed to Retail Dive last week, which also noted that Nike’s Epic React, along with its Air Max 270, is one of the releases with high potential. “We also expect the commentary around new product platforms will be very favorable.”