7 years ago with the launch of Nike Plus, Nike Inc. went from a company that makes shoes and apparel, to a product and services company. In January 2012, Nike launched the Nike Plus FuelBand, a wristband that tracks your daily activities, steps taken, and calories burned. When a consumer purchases the FuelBand, they are automatically entered into the Nike Plus Community. The information from the band is then integrated into the Nike Plus online community and phone application, allowing the consumers to set their own fitness goals, monitor their progression, and compare themselves to others who are part of the community. The results of a run, for example, can be synced to any social media to share with friends, followers, or other Nike community members.

Nike+ Fuelband

I found that the Nike FuelBand very much relates to a range of topics from discussion as well as from Lury’s “Consumer Culture.” The ecosystem of products and services that Nike has developed over the years perfectly exemplifies Lury’s “virtual spaces.” In chapter 4 of “Consumer Culture,” Lury cites Lazzarato’s proposition that firms do not strictly produce goods, rather they produce worlds in which goods exist. Lury explains how these worlds can be both real and virtual spaces and are meant to ‘grow’ the life-worlds of consumers (102-03). When you buy a Nike Fuelband, you’re not simply buying Nike’s product, you’re buying into the entire world of Nike. The virtual space produces the wearer with an entire Nike identity, marked by their daily activity and expenditure. The space also fosters social interactions through the automatic membership in the Nike Plus community and the integration of social media. Not only does the wearer share their statistics with other Fuelband wearers, but also with their friends and followers. The social media aspect allows for engagement with both the brand and the community, allowing for a perpetual relationship among the consumers.

This engagement is demonstrative of user generated production, a concept that Madeline explored in the post below. Similar to Yelp reviewers, the FuelBand wearer becomes a producer by actively participating in a conversation about a product or service. For each Nike community member that shares their activity, Nike’s brand is being marketed to an entire network of followers. Nike differs from Yelp, however, because Nike has instilled the “sharing” aspect into the product itself. Fuel Band users are meant to be motivated by the activity from the Nike community members. Therefore, while some restaurants and venues might request their customers review them, Nike Plus relies on the engagement of the consumers for their product to succeed, explicitly using their customers for free labor.