Anta Versus Adidas: Will the Chinese Sportswear Brand Win?
On August 8, the Olympic Games ended with China taking home an impressive 38 gold medals — only one less than the US.
But athletes weren’t the only ones who scored big this summer. Chinese sportswear giant Anta also got its share of the spotlight when it unveiled its slick red and white uniforms as the official sponsor of Team China. Combining traditional Chinese designs and advanced sportswear technology, the “Champion Dragon Clothes” accompanied 777 athletes to Tokyo, with 88 of them finding their way to the podium.
Aside from this major publicity boost, Anta has also benefited from the recent swell of national pride. With Chinese consumers fervently backing homegrown brands and boycotting foreign competitors — particularly after the Xinjiang cotton crisis — the owner of Fila and Japanese ski-line Descente saw its share prices surge 157 percent over the past year, putting its market value at $64 billion.
Now, Anta is on track to overtake adidas (whose shares rose only 39 percent to a value of $74 billion) to become the second most valuable sports company in the world after Nike. Below, Jing Daily looks at Anta’s playbook for staying on top and whether global brands can still dominate China’s sportswear scene.
Rivaling larger brands with R&D
Part of Anta’s plan to gain a better foothold in the market is to, quite literally, create stronger footwear. In the next five years, the company will invest over $616 million (4 billion RMB), aimed at improving its global R&D system and increasing its output of high-end products. In fact, over its 16-year partnership with the Chinese Olympic Committee, Anta has already spent $460 million and filed 1,400 patents, setting itself apart through innovation to challenge more established players.
Some of the fruits of its research were on display in Tokyo this year. Weightlifter Lü Xiaojun, for one, was sporting golden Anta sneakers that were stress-resistant to the weight of 14 adults when he smashed three Olympic records. His competition suit was also specially designed to provide waist support and prevent muscle damage.
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