• Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

Premium sportswear brands thrive in China, outpacing Nike, and Adidas

Premium sportswear brands are seeing significant growth in China as they implement customer-centric marketing methods. This growth poses a challenge to megabrands Nike and Adidas, which already face strong competition in the country’s $55 billion sportswear sector. As health and wellness become priorities for China’s middle-class consumers following the epidemic, businesses such as Lululemon, On, and Hoka are capitalising on the trend.

Sportswear remains a bright spot in China’s otherwise stagnant consumer sector. Yoga, hiking, and jogging are becoming increasingly popular among health-conscious customers. According to Euromonitor data, the sportswear industry will increase by 7 per cent this year to $59 billion, exceeding the 0.8 per cent rise projected in non-sportswear apparel and footwear. This growing industry creates opportunities for both established players and new premium brands.

Influencer marketing drives success for premium brands

While traditional businesses such as Nike and Adidas continue to rely on celebrity endorsements, premium brands have found success with influencer and community-targeted marketing. Fitness model Ning Zheng, who works with a variety of major sports brands, underlines the need for accessible marketing. “If other people from their yoga studio or running groups, or someone they relate to online, is wearing a brand, they believe it can be good for them too,” she stated.

Lululemon and emerging brands thrive

Lululemon, which has been in China for a decade, recorded 45 per cent growth in the first quarter, overcoming a contraction in the US market. By 2026, the brand hopes to have expanded from 100 to 220 outlets. On and Hoka, both relatively new entrants, are witnessing significant growth. On’s Asia Pacific sales increased by 69 per cent in the first quarter, and China is likely to add considerably to future revenue. Meanwhile, Nike and Adidas continue to dominate, despite slower growth rates and larger overall sales volumes.

Young Chinese consumers embrace premium brands

Chinese millennials and Generation Z are increasingly turning to sports and hobbies to express themselves, fuelling demand for luxury products. “I think young people in China are finding themselves through consumption, through sports and hobbies, by trying frisbee, cycling, or yoga and making that part of their identity,” said Yaling Jiang, the founder of research consultancy ApertureChina. Premium brands such as Arc’teryx and Vuori are benefiting from this trend, as customers seek the greatest fit for their new lifestyles.

(With inputs from Agencies)


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