Corporate Sponsors Sports Business

Nike and Adidas Proudly Made in China?

Part of Nike’s (majority ambush strategy) and Adidas’s (official partner) sponsorship activation during the Beijing Olympics will be a focus on integrating into Chinese (Eastern) fashion. But what exactly is the Chinese look? And how can global sneaker companies change from traditional West to Contemporary East? In a recent Wall Street Journal article reporter Sky Canaves notes:

“In efforts to woo China’s consumers, Nike Inc., the country’s market leader in sportswear, and Adidas AG are both aggressively promoting apparel and shoes with designs incorporating Chinese elements — a departure from the mostly Western-influenced styles they have marketed in the past.

They are betting that the Beijing Olympic Games in August will be a prime opportunity for sportswear to ride a wave of Chinese national pride. At an Adidas fashion show in Beijing in January, costumed Peking Opera performers provided a backdrop for models showing uniforms for Olympic staff and volunteers, featuring polo shirts decorated with ancient Chinese swirling “lucky cloud” patterns.”

Will savvy Chinese customers be able to see right through this marketing campaign or will they fall for the “cutting edge” marketing by Nike and Adidas?

“Already this year, Nike and Adidas will each surpass sales of $1 billion in China, their biggest market after the U.S. From 2002 to 2006, sales of athletic shoes and clothing in China by volume doubled, according to market-research firm Euromonitor International.”

But myopic numbers aside, what Nike and Adidas do not understand is that you can not market to Chinese people from a Westernized prospective. There are a lot of dollars in the East but the people with the purchasing power are aware of the contrast between authenticity and fraudulence. For example, Li Ning, the largest sportswear brand in China, founded by the Olympic gymnast of the same name, who won three gold medals for China in 1984 is loved and supported by the people because it stays true and does not try to market based on old and outdated trends. Although Li Ning is using Olympic subjects in its ads, its athletic wear does not integrate traditional Chinese components. Despite all their money and power, Nike and Adidas should grab a seat in Beijing and take notes from their Chinese brother.

What do you think?

By Kenji Summers

Everything your mother wanted you to be at a young age