How Nike Is Grieving Kobe Bryant And Why It Matters

Company behavior during tragedies is examined under a microscope. Every action a company takes—both good and bad—is noticed nearly instantly and critiqued. The microscope lens is particularly powerful during emotional tragedies that impact consumers and fans across the entire country.

After Kobe Bryant’s shocking death on Sunday, headlines started to circulate about Nike and how they were handling the sale of Kobe Bryant merchandise. Nike reported they had sold out of all of Bryant-related merchandise. When customers search for Bryant-related products, they are re-directed to a Kobe Bryant memorial page. The clarification came after sources claimed Nike had pulled its Bryant merchandise to limit profiteering from his death.

Why is this significant?

Customer experience is the perception a customer has of the brand. Companies today are not simply in the business of transactions. The world is more fluid and connected than it has ever been, and people all over the world are participating in a global mourning for Kobe Bryant, his daughter and those impacted by the helicopter tragedy. Nike could have profited off the short-term attention to Kobe Bryant, but instead is participating in the mourning, showing that Nike understands that it is not simply a company that treats the community like wallets. Today how you act in the public sphere (and everything is arguably now the public sphere today) matters.

Brands Are Part Of The Global Community Now

Companies are no longer just in the business of selling products. They have emotional and social responsibilities and often reflect the emotions of their customers. Every action a company takes reflects on its mission and customer experience. Even unexpected tragedies like the death of Kobe Bryant can have widespread impact on how a company is viewed by its customers. At its foundation, customer experience is emotional. It includes the positive and negative emotions customers face about current events and the brand. Nike’s choice to mourn with customers and celebrate the life of a great player doesn’t go unnoticed.

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Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist and the author of two books including her new book The Customer Of The Future. Learn more by signing up for her weekly newsletter here.

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