Nike runs quickly to outpace industry in China

Nike showcases its latest pipeline of innovations, together with 40 world-class elite athletes, during an event in Paris in April. [PHOTO/CHINA DAILY]

Global sportswear brand Nike is doubling down on the Chinese market by leveraging a responsive and localized creative platform as well as innovations centered on its patented Air technology.

The initiative — to drive growth — aims to bring in freshness, solidify its dominant position in the sportswear industry, and enhance its connections with younger consumers globally.

John Donahoe, president and CEO of Nike Inc, said the sportswear brand will continue to invest steadily in China.

“China is a very important market for Nike. It always has been and always will be. We’re committed to investing in China. We believe in China. We’ll keep doubling down on our proven playbook for success in driving innovative products in China,” he said.

Nike Inc posted a 6 percent year-on-year growth in sales in China to $2.08 billion in the third quarter of fiscal year 2024, the sixth consecutive quarterly increase here for the sportswear company.

This was powered by its Dragon Year collection during the Spring Festival holiday and innovations in running, basketball, women and kids categories.

The company has leveraged its global innovation platform to drive novelty in China.

“You will see us increasingly bringing exciting innovations all over the world based on Air technology,” said Donahoe. “We can hyper-localize them for markets in China and other markets.”

For example, the global launch of Air Max DN shoes is expected to have a China-specific version, featuring local colorways, collaborations, campaigns and engagements with athletes, he said.

Nike has invested more than 2 billion yuan ($276 million) in its technology center in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and an automated storage and retrieval system in its China logistics center in recent years.

Nike is also investing in local innovation capabilities, as demonstrated by the establishment of its Nike Sport Research Lab this year.

The lab works with Chinese athletes and consumers to gain insight and develop innovations driven by, and unique to, the Chinese market.

The company is also investing in hyper-localizing its storytelling and brand through Icon Shanghai, which plans to be a creative studio program aimed at translating global messaging into locally resonant content, responding rapidly to the dynamic Chinese market.

Donahoe said it is crucial to stay close to consumers, particularly in China, where consumer preferences evolve quickly.

“We’re doing things to accelerate how quickly we can respond to the consumer. China’s really the market where we’re doing that the most. We’re leaning in, trying new ways to pull forward innovations and get them in the market.”

“We are going to speed up the innovation cycle for each season and each product based on the market feedback,” he said. “We want Nike to be a global brand for Chinese consumers and it’s of China.”

The CEO emphasized the dynamic nature of the Chinese market, describing it as “innovative and progressive, in style and the digital world”.

“We’ll continue to innovate in China, enhancing both online and retail experiences across over 6,000 retail stores,” he said.

“We believe that Chinese consumers are ahead of the rest of the world in many ways. We take learning from China to the rest of the world.”

Donahoe said both the Nike brand and the Jordan brand have several potential opportunities in China.

The company opened its World of Flight, a top-end retail concept of the Jordan brand, in Beijing last month. Nike has run mono-brand stores such as the Nike Rise, Nike Style, and the House of Innovation, its flagship store in Shanghai.

Digitally, the company operates its own applications, as well as stores on e-commerce platform Tmall and short-video sharing platform Douyin.

“What’s interesting is you don’t have a digital or physical consumer. Sometimes you shop online. Sometimes you go into store. We need to be there with both,” Donahoe said. “Nike is a premium brand and we’ll try to drive and deliver a premium experience in China.”

Innovation on Air

Competition in the sportswear sector in China has intensified, with new players capturing significant market share in their respective categories.

Kemo Zhou, consultant researcher at Euromonitor International, said in 2023 the overall sportswear market in China remained under the dominance of leading sportswear groups. However, intensifying competition from fast-growing brands has been a significant impetus for the growth of the overall sportswear category.

Zhou cited outdoor brands such as The North Face, Camel and Salomon emerging as major contenders.

Meanwhile, Lululemon has maintained its remarkable growth trajectory, Zhou added.

“Initially associated with yoga apparel, the brand has witnessed a surge in popularity transcending its core market segment. Consumers increasingly integrate Lululemon’s products into their everyday wear,” he said.

Zhou said the increased consumer interest in equipment-free exercise, particularly running and hiking, has fostered demand for sports footwear brands specializing in specific activities, such as niche running shoe brands Hoka and On.

Wipro Group embraces China’s favorable business climate, paves the way for high-quality development

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Wipro (Guangdong) consumer care Co.LTD. Photo: Courtesy of Wipro Group

Since its establishment in 1945, Wipro has evolved into a global conglomerate boasting a diverse portfolio of businesses, especially since 1984. The group is present in more than 60 countries and regions, encompassing more than 37 brands covering personal care, home care, men’s grooming, health, spices and packaged foods. Among these, the Group’s Enchanteur brand has been deeply engaged in the Chinese market since the 1990s. At present, the Group’s companies in China have developed into a brand matrix, commanding significant market shares in various segments. Notably, they hold the third market share of shower gel, the second market share of beads and soap, and the second brand of laundry detergent in South China, providing high-quality personal care and home care solutions for millions of Chinese consumers.

Nagender Arya, President East Asia & Business Development of Wipro Group, stated: “We have always believed in the Chinese market, with the continuous upgrading of the business environment in Guangdong Province and the overall supply chain of consumer goods. On the one hand, the group has focused on tapping the growth potential and innovation ability of Chinese local brands since 2016. We have invested and built the group’s most advanced production and research base in Guangzhou Zengcheng Development Zone, including the introduction of international management system, production equipment and the establishment of talent training system, with a total investment of more than 258 million yuan ($35.69 million). On the other hand, we are committed to tapping the potential of local consumption. The marketing research and development team has been focusing on the unmet needs of local consumers for a long time, integrating the formula advantages of local brands, using the efficient local supply chain to quickly bring out the new products, so that a number of traditional Guangdong brands will be injected with new vitality. For example, Pahnli laundry detergent and laundry capsule have become the second largest brand in South China with their unique sweet and soft clothing care formula. Zici shower gel, a traditional Guangdong brand, has been studying the traditional Chinese moisturizing ingredient – pearl – for 25 years, and has improved the purification technology of pearl essence. So far, one out of every five Guangdong families is using it.”

Nagender Arya (right), President East Asia & Business Development of Wipro Group, and Li Yinglin, CEO of Wipro (Guangdong) consumer care Co.LTD. Photo: Courtesy of Wipro Group

Nagender Arya (right), President East Asia & Business Development of Wipro Group, and Li Yinglin, CEO of Wipro (Guangdong) consumer care Co.LTD. Photo: Courtesy of Wipro Group

Wipro Group attaches great importance to the iterative upgrading capability of the Chinese market, which is the reason why Chinese manufacturing is increasingly important in the international market. In the past four years, the Group’s R&D investment and marketing investment in Chinese companies have increased, and the new products developed by the Chinese team are very interesting and close to the healthy and upward lifestyle of consumers. For instance, the introduction of Pahnli laundry detergent infused with Oolong tea fragrance, a pioneering concept in the industry, embodies Wipro’s commitment to innovative offerings catering to diverse consumer preferences. Moreover, Wipro acknowledges the transformative impact of China’s e-commerce innovations, marketing automation technologies, and robust supply chain capabilities, positioning the country at the forefront of these fields globally.

The senior management of the group is optimistic about the business environment in China, paying particular attention to the market in South China, following the strategic plan of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the group will further support the overseas development of our Chinese mainland brand, from Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions to Southeast Asia, to the Middle East and other Belt and Road countries.

According to Li Yinglin, CEO of Wipro (Guangdong) consumer care Co.LTD., the group firmly believes in the long-term growth potential of the Chinese market. Embracing the national high-quality development strategy, Wipro intensifies investments in domestic bases and green energy initiatives, catering to evolving consumption patterns in increasingly diverse markets. Moreover, Wipro actively engages in social responsibility endeavors, helping Shaoguan, Qingyuan and other areas, actively participating in the Red Cross donation activities and contributing to community welfare initiatives across Guangdong Province.

The management of Wipro (Guangdong) consumer care Co.LTD. thanks Guangdong’s superior international business environment and governmental support. Through its steadfast commitment to excellence and innovation, Wipro aims to bolster the high-quality development of China’s manufacturing industry, amplifying the global footprint of Chinese manufacturing prowess.