The market for sport clothes is extremely competitive in China
The market for sport clothes in China has been expanding at a rate of 6.5% for the past years. The main players in the market are both foreign and domestic companies, what makes competition fiercer. Domestic producers need to compete with foreign brands, such as Nike and Adidas, which has gained popularity among Chinese young customers. Among domestic producers, Li Ning, 361° and Erke are dominating. These brands seek to increase their international recognition by means of various sponsorships.
Li Ning was founded by a triple gold medal winning Olympic gymnast in 1989 as a company specialising on the production of sport clothes. The main types of clothes Li Ning produces are designed for doing basketball, tennis, running, football and fitness. Since 2004, the company was listed on Hong Kong stock exchange. According to market research data, this company is one of the leaders of sport market in China along with a foreign brand Adidas. However, while maintaining a long-term leadership in China, the company has gained small recognition abroad. Its main competitors, Nike and Adidas, are extremely popular among Chinese young consumers due to their international popularity. This makes competition for Li Ning more challenging. Therefore, the company has recently undertaken some measures regarding building awareness of its foreign potential customers. As a part of marketing strategy, it started to sponsor international teams and athletes providing the Spanish and Swedish Olympic teams with uniforms; also the American table tennis team, tennis player Ivan Ljubicic, Elena Isinbayeva, Shaquille O’Neal, and one of America’s top Basketball players. Moreover, some Chinese teams wrote a company’s logo at the Beijing Olympics.
The company 361° was established in 2004 and by now has become one of the leaders on market for sport clothes in China. Compared to Li Ning, 361° produces sport clothes for a larger sport range including badminton, table tennis, lawn tennis, basketball, casual, general training, running, and some other outdoor sports. In 2012, its sales reached around $885 million and it was included in the “Asia’s 200 Best under A Billion” list, completed by Forbes. After 5 years since its foundation, the company had already had 5,543 outlets on the territory of China. Similar to Li Ning, 361° seeks to gain international recognition by sponsoring international and national teams. Thus, in 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, the company was an official provider of sport clothes for Chinese curling team (both men and women). The company pays considerable attention for marketing strategies and branding. It literary means 360 degrees of protractor plus one for pursuing creative company’s goals and consumers’ needs.
Erke is a China-based sport clothes company, which was founded in 2000. Being one of the leaders in the market for sport clothes in China, the company seeks to gain international recognition. It is famous for numerous partnerships and contracts with famous world teams and players. Erke became the main sponsor of North Korean football team, which qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup for the second time since 1966.