What is your favourite product?

In February 2020, I made a promise to myself to get fit. I had set a target of losing 30 kgs over the next year. By November 2020, I had lost around 20 kgs already. The weight loss journey was going good but I had hit a plateau and I was constantly experimenting with different kinds of things to get over this plateau. After being stuck at home for so long, I desperately wanted a reason to go out in the fresh air every day. The effects of the pandemic were still there and I felt that it wouldn’t be safe to go to the gym, especially with my 87-year-old grandmother at home.

And that’s when I decided to start running. Running is a simple sport. Just get yourself a pair of shoes and you are good to go. I had never done any long-distance running previously. After finishing school, the only running that I had done was on the treadmill. So, I was looking for run-tracking apps to track my outdoor runs and I decided to try Nike Run Club which turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I got to know about Nike Run Club through some Instagram stories of runs that some of my friends had shared. I’ve grown up wearing Nike products, idolizing sportsmen who have endorsed Nike’s products like Cristiano Ronaldo, Roger Federer and Kobe Bryant and fantasizing about buying Air Jordan sneakers. So, the emotional connection with the brand has always been there. But anyway, long story short…I started running regularly and I fell in love with running. I was making progress every day in terms of speed and distance. After one and half months of running, I decided to challenge myself to run a half marathon. It was kind of crazy because I had never run more than 11 km before.

Roger Federer — One of many top athletes to have endorsed Nike
First half-marathon run

I still look back at this run in awe. I was not confident if I would be able to complete the run but not only did I complete it, but I managed to do it in less than 2 hours! As someone, who grew up being bullied for being overweight, this was easily the greatest accomplishment of my life. And a lot of credit for this goes to Coach Bennett of Nike Run Club, the best teacher I’ve ever had.

Coach Bennett’s guided runs are filled with thought provoking life lessons like this

So, what exactly is Nike Run Club?

Nike Run Club is more than just a run-tracking app. It acts like a coach, a mentor and a fully-fledged fitness companion for the runner and is suitable for different levels of runners from beginners to professionals.

What problem does it solve for its users?

Running is the ultimate individual sport. However, running alone can also become a lonely or boring experience. People often find it difficult to stay motivated and be consistent with their running. The mission of the Nike Run Club app is to help people overcome that motivational gap when it comes to running and achieving their goals — with GPS tracking, guided runs, customized training plans, as well as friendly encouragement from friends and other runners around the world.

What are the top 3 things that I love about NRC?

1. IT’S FREE!

The best things in life are usually free and so is Nike Run Club! :)
Most of its competitors work on the freemium model by providing limited features to free users and keep nagging the user to buy their premium subscription whereas Nike Run Club is completely free.

The app isn’t full of advertisements either. Nike does showcase some products like running shoes on the app which the user can buy from Nike’s online store but it has been done in such an organic manner that it does not feel like a forced advertisement at all.

You might be wondering why would Nike offer this app for free?

Nike’s goal isn’t to earn revenue directly from the Nike Run Club. Instead, what it gives Nike is a goldmine of DATA! Data about the user’s exercise routines, personal information, location, browsing and purchasing habits. Nike uses these details to craft ads, attract customers and boost its digital sales.

2. Guided Runs

Guided runs

The guided runs feature is my favourite feature of the Nike Run Club app. These are runs where a Nike Coach speaks to the runner throughout, coaching them virtually.

  • Running alone can be a lonely and boring experience. The coaches and the content team have curated the guided runs in such a way that it feels like you are having a conversation with someone throughout your run.
  • You get to be coached by some of the greatest athletes and runners to have ever run on this planet like Eliud Kipchoge and Mo Farah.
  • From 2K to 20 miles, from 2-minute runs to 2-hour runs, the app has runs for various distances and durations that the runners can choose as per their convenience. There are even runs for various moods of the runners like “I need a win run”, “Don’t wanna run run”, “Tough day easy run”
  • Having a bad day? Can’t focus during your meditation session? Now you can be mindful even during your runs. NRC has a bunch of runs for mindful running sessions featuring the best Nike Running coaches and Headspace coaches
  • Coaching is meant to give you life and running tips and offer some distraction from the physical effort that you are exerting by easing the monotony of the run.
  • The coaches motivate and guide you throughout the run. They teach you about how a runner should control their effort levels, posture and breathing throughout the run. I acquired a lot of lessons about running through these runs.
  • The real lessons however that will stick with me for the rest of my life were lessons not about running, but about life. The coaches at NRC do a great job at drawing a parallel between a run and our life and how lessons learnt while running can help us overcome obstacles, challenges and negative emotions in our life.

This is about running and it’s not about running. It’s about life.”

3. Gamification

If I had to teach a person interested in learning more about the concept of gamification, I would probably ask them to explore the NRC app.

The Nike Run Club app includes many elements of gamification to promote user engagement and retention while making training enjoyable for the runner.

a) Challenges

Challenges

NRC encourages runners to participate in challenges and compete with runners across the world. Each challenge is accessible only for a limited time. This creates a sense of urgency in the minds of the runners to complete the challenge within the deadline and pushes the runner to commit to the challenge.

b) Leaderboard

Leaderboards

Leaderboards promote healthy competition among the runner’s social group and motivate the user to keep coming back on the app and log their runs.

c) Achievements, personal records and Trophies

NRC does a great job of giving its users positive reinforcement. Nike Run club consistently celebrates small wins with personalized messages congratulating users on what they’ve accomplished and encouraging them to keep going. The continuous encouragement boosts users’ confidence in their abilities, while also raising engagement within the app. Each run unlocks new achievements, which can be shared with friends and improved over time.

Badges are a simple and effective way to make tasks feel significantly more meaningful and celebratory.

Trophies and badges

d) Levels

Levels

Have you ever played a video game? Noticed how crossing each level becomes harder to cross than the previous one but that pushes you, even more, to try harder and cross the level?

NRC works similarly. Based on your total running distance logged on the application, you reach different levels. The app has six levels, with different colours which follow the same principle as the martial arts belts: yellow, orange, green, blue, purple and black. In the beginning, you advance quickly because the amount of points necessary is minimum. But once you grow in points, it becomes harder to reach the next level. The numbers may be intimidating to people, but sure motivating.

e) Streaks

Another common retention hook that motivates users to keep coming back to the app everyday to keep their streak alive.

Streaks

What are some areas of improvement for the product?

1) Technical issues -Bugs and crashes

Sometimes while stopping a run, the app hangs and has to be stopped forcefully and the run is not recorded on the app. This leads to a very bad user experience. A lot of reviews suggest that this issue has caused many people to switch to competitors’ apps. I had to switch to Google Fit for some time when this issue was occurring frequently.

Metrics that this improvement would impact:

a) Net Promotor Score (NPS)

b) Engagement and Retention metrics: DAU/WAU/MAU

c) Number of App-not-responding (ANR) sessions

2) Increase the social element of the app

I do not have a lot of friends who use the application. In such cases, Nike can suggest accounts of people nearby or provide information about running clubs near me to increase the social element and interaction among the users. NRC could also suggest celebrity or athlete profiles that I can follow so that I can engage with their posts on my feed.

Metrics that this improvement would impact:

a) Average session duration

b) Daily app launches

c) Engagement and Retention metrics: DAU/WAU/MAU,

d) Increase in Likes, Shares and Comments across posts

3) More sign-in options

Another issue that I and many other users have faced is that the app logs out the user automatically every few days. Moreover, the app only has an option to log in by email by manually setting a password on Nike’s website. After being logged out of the app, I have forgotten my password multiple times and I have had to go through the painful and time-taking process of resetting the password again and again. This leads to a very bad user experience and can be solved simply with an option to log in to the app using Google/Facebook accounts or with OTPs. Gone are the days when SSOs used to be a delighters. They have become a very basic feature now.

Metrics that this improvement would impact:

a) # of users that complete sign up

b) Reduction in #of people that have to reset their password

c) Drop-offs during the onboarding flow

4) In-app music integration on Android devices

NRC supports integration with Spotify/Apple music on Apple devices. This feature lets runners control their music from the Nike Run Club app itself. However, this feature is not available for Android users. Switching between multiple apps during the run to control music playback becomes a big pain point for users because of this.

5) Introduce guided runs with videos

NRC’s guided runs do a great job of keeping the runner engaged during outdoor runs. However, I personally did not find the experience on indoor runs meant for the treadmill very engaging. This could be solved by having video content synced along with the audio for indoor runs.

Improvements #4,#5 would help increase overall engagement across the app.

This is my first ever post on Medium. Would love to get any sort of feedback on how I can improve. If you have come this far, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more interesting product related content. Would love to know what’s your favourite product in the comments!

P.S. If you have also wanted to write for a long time but you have been holding yourself back like me then take some inspiration from Nike and JUST DO IT!

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Akash Sharma

A product padawan documenting his journey towards becoming a Product Jedi master | https://www.linkedin.com/in/akash-sharma-1502/