The Guide to Market a Sportswear Brand in China

The sportswear sector has been enjoying good weather since last year in China, with growing demand. This sector is in full development and offers opportunities for local and international brands wishing to surf the wave. Indeed, the sportswear sector currently represents only 0.7% of the country’s GDP, or 72 billion dollars. To stimulate the development of the sports industry, the government is intensifying its efforts to implement the government policies necessary for its development.

A market driven by societal trends

In recent years, the trend has been for a healthier life. Social networks are saturated with articles, tips, recipes for healthy eating, sports challenges, and detox diets to pursue an ultimate goal: a healthy lifestyle. The brands have all jumped on this trend to convey it through their products and marketing campaigns. As in other countries of the world, the fitness trend is becoming more and more popular in China and clothing sportswear is being democratized within the company allowing them to wear them on a daily basis and even to go to work.

Initiatives developed by the government and trends towards a healthier lifestyle, support the growth of the market and make it promising for years to come.

A change in the behavior of individuals in China

The evolution of the Chinese middle class has allowed the country to aspire to new expectations with regard to domestic consumption. This change in mentality joins the current trends in the market to aspire to a healthier life.

Individuals with decent incomes tend to engage in more sports activities, especially young workers who have a high sensitivity to the purchase of sports products. Indeed, the country notes a dramatic increase in the number of registered fitness rooms (+ 84% in 5 years). One can note in the market, American influences in terms of dress styles are highly appreciated by Chinese consumers. Consumers have always had a strong sensitivity to fashion and trends, which makes implantation for brands even more interesting.

Sportswear dominated by international brands

Nike with a PDM of 22% in 2016, holds the lead in the Chinese market. It has a strong reputation within the country and conveys an image that goes beyond the mere sports brand. The strength of the brand lies in its distribution. Indeed, the brand has in addition to its website of sale online, its own distribution network on the territory, which allows it to increase its visibility.

Read Also: Fashion in China: Top Marketing Strategies for Brands

Followed closely by its Challenger, Adidas, who trying to catch the comma mark by using innovation and advertising actions to become one of the favorite brands of the market.

Nevertheless, while these giants like Nike, Adidas, and New Balance have already built their reputations and have a strong influence on the sporting trends of the country. Other brands like Puma or Under Love (UA) are still in the early stages of their growth in the market. Indeed, by 2020, UA expects to increase its sales by 25%.

New Balance with HOt KOL PapyJiang

Nike Ads in China, is just amazing

A shift from luxury brands to sportswear

Instead of buying luxury brands, Chinese consumers are beginning to turn to more active lifestyle brands such as Nike and Adidas whose positioning is in the premium range. According to Euromonitor International, the sportswear market is expected to surpass luxury goods by 2020 and reach $ 42 billion in growth compared with luxury goods.

The globalization of the environment, allows Chinese consumers to turn more and more towards the international brands of quality and confidence signs in the Middle Empire. As these brands are increasingly perceived as fashion trend launchers, local brands or low-profile brands have an opportunity to develop by positioning themselves as experts in the field of sport.

Major market players such as Nike, Adidas, and New Balance have a large market share, and because of a more competitive market, smaller brands have to devote more to advertising and promotions to strengthen their brands and visibility. In addition, online commerce is an opportunity for growth in the market, which brands should not hesitate to apprehend.

How to market a sports brand in China?

The need to have an online presence: Development of e-commerce

The evolution of behaviors in favor of increasingly digitized consumption has changed the way to market brands’ products. E and M-commerce are developing more and more, which is even more visible in China, where, the adoption of these technological means is done more quickly than in western countries. The increasing number of users who spend more time on their mobile devices, especially on applications, will be an advantage for your brand to enhance its mobile marketing experience.

Developing online sales will be a vector of growth and will boost your sales. Many international companies go through local online sales platforms to sell their products. JD Worldwide, Tmall Global, or even Taobao are popular platforms in China that will make your introduction to the market easier.

M-commerce (Mobile commerce) is a vector of long-term growth for companies.

Invest in Social media, it is strategic

WeChat platforms offer companies to sell their products via their mini store. This application used by more than 800 million Chinese per month is a relevant tool to exploit for the development of your activities.

You must create an “official account” that will differentiate itself from a standard personal account. You can still use the account to communicate and send messages but it will also work as a tool for conversion marketing and prospecting.

It is very important for any digital strategy carried out in China to have an official account. Users usually find virtually all of their information on the platform. Indeed, this phenomenon allowed giving to the platform the nice nickname of “WeChat Times”.

Digital campaigns based on:

  • The use of KOL and celebrities

The Key Opinion Leaders are public figures with a strong influence on Chinese buying behavior. Consumers have become increasingly suspicious of brands and consumers are now taking account of the opinions and recommendations of those around them for their purchasing process.

Brands often call on personalities who are loved by their target audience and likely to influence them to integrate them into their communication strategies.

  • Sports communities and applications

Sport is in general a vector of cohesion between individuals. It allows people to meet to share a common passion. Many brands have already positioned themselves on the creation of sports applications to interact and get closer to their consumer target.

Take the example of Nike and its Nike + application that brings millions of runners together and challenges each other. For the launch of its running shoes Free running, the brand launched a campaign on social networks to compete with the Runners who were to share their performances on a two-kilometer race. The interactivity and animation of your application are crucial elements to stimulate and gain the confidence of your community.

Chinese online behavior is generally more collectivist than in our Western countries, users are strongly influenced by the opinions and opinions of others. It is therefore essential to build your reputation over time by creating positive topics, discussions, and comments while limiting a negative buzz. Getting closer to your target by incorporating discussion forums consistent with your brand is a good way to let you know.

Puma’s social media strategy

According to the brand marketing director, influence marketing, partnerships, and social media have contributed to improving the company’s performance on the Asian continent. The objective of the brand was to remind and to make known to the consumers the values ​​and the philosophy of the company. For this, she has developed her involvement in local events in different cities with, for example, night-time running sessions.

In particular, the company chose Usain Bolt as a brand name for its international brand, as it enjoys a high profile and a special affection in China.

In particular, the brand chose the Korean group BTS to become its brand ambassador on the continent. Indeed, K-pop has had the wind in its sails for some years and especially in China. The particularity of its groups and the community of individuals who can follow them on a daily basis. Moreover, their communities strongly refer to their idols with regard to their purchases. The BTS group has a strong community of followers (4.5 million on Instagram, 7 million on Twitter, and 5.5 million on Vlive) the brand successfully developed its interests strongly in the territory.

The sportswear market in China

The sportswear market in China has many opportunities for foreign brands. Nevertheless, it is necessary to understand in its entirety the environment in which you will start. For this many companies choose to associate with local companies having foolproof market knowledge.

Do not hesitate and associate yourself with an agency to develop your Branding in china

We are committed to helping foreign companies get to know and develop their business in China. For this, our agency specialized in digital marketing in China to develop digital communication strategies for various foreign actors.

Do not hesitate to consult our case studies and contact one of our experts for more information about our services.

1 comment

  • Richard

    Very professional Website and good useful Guide for all marketers working for Sport Brands in the world.
    I believe that China is the next big Market for all sportwear Brand but seems to be difficult to Enter and Distribution is quite complicated

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