Foot Locker knows it needs to capture today’s young digital consumer and the latest target of its futureproofing investment strategy offers an inroad to the smartphone addicts of Gen Z.
The specialty athletic retailer, which operates 3,175 stores in 27 countries, coughed up $3 million for a stake in NTWRK, which bills itself as a content and e-commerce platform centered on youth culture. Launched last year by ComplexCon and Agenda trade show founder Aaron Levant, NTWRK is among the new players like Duzy TV, Dropp and Dote that are innovating in a video commerce, i.e., home shopping, arena established decades ago by household names like HSN and QVC.
In addition to Foot Locker, entertainment powerhouse Live Nation also led NTWRK’s $10 million Series A raise.
Episodes released on NTWRK’s iOS app and website often feature a heady mix of exclusive product drops, high-wattage personalities, engaging activations and other means of attracting and entertaining the limited attention spans of today’s teens. NTWRK says its particular format gives artists a platform to best showcase the story behind their most intriguing products. A recent drop featured product by Fiends X Sandal Boyz while members tuning in on Sept. 26 can shop Puma + Helly Hansen.
NTWRK, says Foot Locker chairman and CEO Richard Johnson, is pioneering how “youth culture shops.”
“At Foot Locker, we are focused on continuing to elevate the customer experience and investing for growth, and our partnership with NTWRK reflects our commitment to driving our business in new and exciting ways,” Johnson added. “We look forward to working closely with Aaron and the NTWRK team to deliver exclusive products and experiences for our customers and extend our reach in youth culture.”
It’s impossible to ignore the overlap between certain NTWRK partnerships and key Foot Locker brands, including Adidas, Champion, Jordan, Nike, New Balance and Puma, not to mention their common customer in the form of young, urban and street-smart shoppers.
According to Levant, NTWRK “has undeniably elevated the consumer experience.”
“We are excited to partner with Foot Locker on this journey, further enhancing what experiential commerce means to the consumer,” Levant added. “Given Foot Locker’s strong, global track record for retail leadership, we collectively aim to exceed the expectations of the next wave of consumers.”