How to sell your Sport Shoes in China?

A large number of Chinese people prefer to wear sports shoes nowadays. Besides being convenient at work or daily activities, sports shoes (the highest quality and well-known ones) give an image of wealthy and healthy life.

Figures showed that the total market size of China’s sports shoes and apparel industry has reached +188.4 Billion yuan in 2017 and it is expected to reach 246.7 in 2020. The sportswear market is expected to have an annual growth rate of 7.9% from 2017to 2020 and the sports shoe market expects an average annual growth rate of 9.92% in the next few years.

Sport Shoes : A fashion trend in China ?

As the disposable income of Chinese people continues to rise, Chinese consumers’ demand for a better quality of sporting shoes is increasing. This gives a lot of opportunities for sports brands to market in China.

In fact, the concept of ‘leisure’ is becoming more important for the Chinese and they are seeking style and comfort at the same time. Consumers in the market for leisure shoes are mainly students and office workers, typically aged between 18 and 45, more demanding than average in terms of brand culture and individuality.

Quality, Style, and Value-for-money pricing are three primary selling points in the sector.

Moreover, sports events are becoming very popular. People’s interest in their personal fitness continues to rise in China. We can feel it in Shanghai, seeing more and more runners across the streets and also Fitness Gym’s sellers promoting their store. The cost of participating in sports-related activities has become a significant part of many individuals’ monthly spending.

China Sport Shoes Market segmentation

In this market, the major overseas brands are Nike, holding the top position, Adidas, UnderArmour, and Reebook, with the rising of Puma recently. They focus on the mid-to-high-end market and are very appreciated among Chinese consumers (both by youths and adults).  China’s brands cut into the mass sportswear market, focusing on second-and third-tier cities. The market share of domestic brands such as Li Ning (李宁), Xtep(特步), 361°and Peak is relatively close, occupying the medium-end market, and the competition is relatively fierce.

The market is expected to become still more segmented, giving companies in the sector scope for targeting additional niches and sub-categories. As an example of this, with hiking having become widely popular across the mainland, a number of footwear companies have taken the opportunity to launch specialist hiking and walking footwear.

Competition in China’s footwear market

At present, an increasing number of footwear companies are investing heavily in their technological resources, while prioritizing innovation, in a bid to remain competitive and refine their production techniques.

The mainland footwear market remains dominated by domestically made products. However, many of the international group brands reported steady sales growth, fueled by the increase in consumers’ disposable income and the trend of consumption in China. With the intensifying competition and more and more international brands already well-established on the Chinese market, a lot of Chinese companies have also begun to realize the importance of developing their own brand equity.

How to sell your sport shoes in China?

There are many sales Channels available in China.

Physical Store in Shopping Malls

Department stores and marge shopping centers represent the leading footwear retail channels in China. The advantage, of course, is the higher traffic. However, the implementation costs a lot, especially in first and second-tier cities. Some brands even don’t make a profit in this way, but owning a physical store in big shopping malls helps to increase the brand’s exposure and image in front of Chinese consumers.

Physical Specialty shops

We can notice that specialty shops and franchised stores have been growing in popularity over recent years. Specialty shops are now a common sight on the mainland, and many companies are opting to use this channel. However, the competition here is also quite important, companies have to ensure their reputation to attract more people and stand out from the others.

Website stores

Some niche brands Choose to sell through their own website. This allows them to have more control over their business compared to being in an e-commerce marketplace. However (again), these brands need to promote a lot in order to get their client online. It is also important to have a Chinese website to be visible on the Chinese Search Engine. In China, Baidu SEO is the KEY.

E-Commerce platforms

TMALL and are the main e-commerce marketplace in China. While the competition can be quite difficult because the platform gathers a lot of other brands and choices, e-commerce’s channel remains the main choice for Chinese consumers. Over the years, digitalization has changed the way to consume in China. By the convenience and the greater range of available imported items, Chinese people have been increasingly spending time and money on these kinds of platforms.


tmall distributor

Through a dedicated application, TMALL manages to connect distributors with the brand directly to avoid any intermediate connections. By gathering all distributors, and providing them with the means to connect to the brand, allows significant gains for all participants (the final customer, as the intermediary distributors) and therefore the success of the product and its brand in China.

TMALL has implemented a B2D strategy (Business to developers) to resolve the problem of distribution in China. This solution is considered as the future way of distribution in China, because this field is quite messy for the moment, and major companies like Alibaba have started to find ways to arrange this market.

How can GMA help you ?

Marketing to China is also an agency of experts in digital marketing in China. We provide you with distribution consulting and effective solutions to distribute and sell your product. Based in Shanghai, our company has developed many successful projects because we know well how this market operates.

Feel free to send us an e-mail to discuss your business. We will answer you ASAP : )

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  • I’m interested in the sneaker resell market in China. Is this the sort of thing you are interested in?

  • Richard Dalbec

    I own a outdoor footwear startup. We created a unique technology that applies to hoking and adventure travel. My partner and I are veteran from the athletic footwear industry having worked in key senior position at Puma, Timberland, Reebok and Brooks shoes. The Chinese factory we selected to manufacture our shoes is offering to invest in our company. He says he can offer better access to the Chinese market.
    If you were in my shoes (no pun intended) what would you think?

    • Olivier

      Yes I think. I will email you Richard, and hope we can Talk. 🙂

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