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Could a Chinese Brand Become the Next Nike?


Anta, the leading Chinese sportswear brand, is determined to make itself as well-known and trendy around the world as Adidas and Nike. With it being named an official sponsor of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and with Chinese President Xi Jinping having been seen wearing the brand, it might be a race it stands a chance of eventually winning.


In its store on Shanghai’s renowned Nanjing East Road, sales personnel proudly stress Anta’s position as the No. 1 Chinese sportswear brand and pitch their bestselling footwear — a lightweight and low-price sneaker for 369 yuan ($52).


Anta has a 15% share of China’s sportswear market, but it is still behind the top global brands: Adidas has 20% and Nike 23%. “During the past November 11 shopping carnival [similar to Black Friday in the United States], Anta achieved 1.83 billion [yuan] ($261 million) in sales, with 63% growth year-on-year,” says Karen Dai, group project director at ISPO, a group that organizes a leading sports fair in Munich, Germany, each year. “Anta listed No. 3 in the sports category and their kids’ line listed number four in that segment.”


Anta’s game plan is to use the 2022 Winter Olympics to leap over Adidas and Nike to become No. 1 brand in sportswear in China, a market that is worth $43 billion annually. Yet the company still faces a problem with market differentiation. “Domestically, their brand has been well-received over the last decade or so,” says Mark Thomas, managing director at sports marketing company S2M Group. “They are in a fairly positive position, but are their products any different to Adidas and Nike?”


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