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SBD Global/August 15, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Adidas Gains On Nike In China By Balancing Performance With Fashion

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China market leader Nike "is expecting sales to fall in the next two quarters," but adidas is "bucking the trend," according to Anita Chang Beattie of AD AGE. Adidas "is gaining on Nike's top spot," reporting 6% revenue growth in greater China in the first quarter of '13, following 15% growth there in '12. Analysts "credit adidas fashion apparel like high-heeled sneakers" coming from sub-brands such as Originals, NEO and Y-3. Adidas China Sport Performance Marketing VP Jens Meyer said that its success "comes from striking a balance between fashion-forward appeal and staying true to its roots." Meyer: "The challenge for us is 'How do I, as a sports brand, capture a part of the leisure market without compromising my positioning in sport?'" Meyer added, "If we move too much into the fashion side ... the consumer will say 'I don't see adidas anymore as a sports brand, I'll go to others who just do sport.'" A key part of its strategy "is targeting women, an influential group that has been largely ignored by sports brands." To start, the adidas China team "made strategic tweaks to the global 'All in for My Girls' marketing platform," choosing as campaign ambassador Taiwanese pop star Hebe, "who is stick-thin, as are the other women featured in the visuals." It "was a deliberate choice reflecting Asian ideals of beauty." Online, adidas "has featured female sports groups from across China." It "invested heavily" in TV, with an ad showing Chinese women running, dancing and doing parkour. Nike's marketing in China, meanwhile, "remains driven by sports stars like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant." Messaging highlights the technical performance of Nike products, which "consumers find to be cool." However, China Market Research Group Associate Principal Ben Cavender said, "there's no emotional connection for them. They're failing to grab people's interest on a more visceral level" (AD AGE, 8/14).
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