Brand Positioning and Development in Chinese Sporting Goods Market

Sources:CHINA SPORTING GOODS FEDERATION
Release time:2013-06-20

  Chinese sporting goods enterprises develop rapidly in last decade, from veteran enterprises Li-Ning and Double Star to Jinjiang corporations Anta, Peak and Erke, with sales breaking through one billion, two billion and three billion Yuan step by step. However, those enterprises encounter some problems now: sales grow slowly, marketing cost and stock increase yearly and profits reduce.

  Market positioning: from rash to clear

  Primary, secondary and third sporting goods markets in China grow fast, which brings plenty of opportunities to domestic enterprises. Foreign companies such as Nike and Adidas focus on brand construction rather than growing sales when they enter into Chinese market. Through long term strategy, they take up priority then expand to secondary and third market. Foreign enterprises cultivate brand cognition in primary market, while Li-Ning explores in secondary and Anta and other Jinjiang companies in third market. Domestic companies grow fast in subdivided market, with similar shape of foreign products, acceptable quality, reasonable price and powerful channel.

  Being different from foreign corporations, domestics such as Anta focus on sales and market occupancy in early phase rather than brand construction, and marketing core strategy is “sales network construction”. Avoiding foreign and domestic big brands, Anta chooses the third and fourth tier market, especially in counties and developed villages. As to store construction strategy, Anta leads and forces distributers to exceed competitors on store quantity and size. In order to add stores rapidly, Anta adopts “province distribution agents+region joining distributers”, giving up setting direct branches nationally as other sporting goods corporations. Under this sales network construction strategy, Anta stores develop from several hundred to thousand in a few years and occupy the third market.

  Lack of understanding to experience economy

  After finishing brand construction in the primary market, foreign corporations enter into the secondary and third market gradually; while domestics try to enter the primary market. Product and price are roughly the same, both of them pay attention to brand. Customers make buying decision on brand rather than function or price. Domestics depend on production instead of marketing, because they are weak at brand understanding.

  Lacking of understanding to experience economy, domestics imitate foreign brands. First, domestics carry out marketing event “close to customers”, especially youth event sponsorship, for example street basketball competition, X-sports challenge match and so on. Second, Anta changes its slogan from “I choose what I love” to “keep moving”; Li-Ning replaces “I exercise I exist”“Excellence sources from true qualities” with “Everything is possible”. As the leading Chinese sporting goods enterprise, Li-Ning recognizes the tendency of experience consumption and becomes similar to Nike in whole marketing. Moreover, Li-Ning gets to know the globalization tendency of brand early.

  Marketing ability limits development

  Domestic brands try hard to become fashionable. However, huge gap on size highlights weakness of domestics. Foreign brands depend on plenty of marketing cost, for instance, Adidas wins 2008 Olympic Games sponsorship with 1.3 billion Yuan, which is equal to annual sales of most domestics. But Adidas has 10 billion dollars sales yearly. Fortunately, domestics find a strategy that they can focus on market segments: Li-Ning holds track and field and basketball, Peak pays attention to basketball. However, it is far from enough. On one hand, capturing opportunity in changing condition needs marketing ability; on the other hand, domestics need to develop marketing ability, especially whole marketing ability focusing on brand.

  Marketing work is implemented by R&D department, product planning department, marketing department and brand management department, thus the whole marketing strategy is divided into parts. In R&D department, designers are occupied by product development for the ordering. In fact, the distributers will choose product combinations by themselves, and previous product strategy can’t be implemented. Varying product combinations can be seen in different region specialty shops from the same brand, which seems that they are different brands. The headquarter can’t ask shop managers to carry out the product strategy made by the corporation, and product combinations strategy doesn’tcome into force from the ordering, which influences marketing strategy of target customer, product and brand promotion.


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