Just like in Europe, the global leaders Nike and Adidas also dominate the sports market in China. The industry currently already makes ten percent of its total sales in China, the two biggest companies are considered status symbols. In their shadow, however, a collection of Chinese competitors has formed. After Adidas and Nike come the brands Anta Sports, Li Ning, X-tep and 361.
The majority of the world’s sports articles are still being produced in China and, thanks to the promotion of sports by the government and the growing middle class, increasingly being purchased there as well. “Anta, Li Ning, or 361 are all brands from medium-sized cities. The international brands are so strong that it’s impossible for Chinese companies to make it onto the premium market with their own brands,” says Karen Dai, Project Group Direction ISPO Beijing & ISPO Shanghai.
So far, no Chinese company has been able to position itself as a brand on the European market. Which at least Anta changed at the beginning of 2019. The company from Jinjiang in south-eastern China took over Finnish competitor Amer Sports for 4.6 billion euros.
Amer has well-known brands such as Salomon, Arc'teryx, Peak Performance or Atomic and the company is about the same size as Anta Sports. As a group, the two companies rise to become the world's number three in the sports industry. Karen Dai and Danny He, Project Manager at Messe München Shanghai Co., answer the three most important questions about the up-and-coming sports brand Anta Sports.
What role does Anta play on the Chinese sports market from an economic perspective?
Without a doubt, Anta is the number one among the Chinese brands and the number three overall on the Chinese sports market from an economic perspective. The international acquisition, however, is now the fastest way for Anta to improve its image. Because the Amer brand Arc'teryx, for example, already has a very good reputation in China.
What products does Anta offer?
Anta has a wide range of products including basketball shoes and clothing, running shoes and clothing, lifestyle and outdoor products. The outdoor segment is very small, however. Anta also sells and distributes several brands in China in order to offer different products. Fila and Descente are two of these brands.
How is Anta’s image in China compared with western brands like Nike or Adidas that are very well-liked?
For a long time, Anta was viewed as a normal Chinese sports brand that primarily offers low prices and produces in tier 3, 4, or 5 cities. Like Li Ning, the company can’t compete with Nike or Adidas.
Recently, Anta’s image has greatly improved. The reasons:
- Anta is supporting the Chinese Olympic committee. That means all Chinese athletes will wear Anta clothing at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games.
- Anta buys international brands and distributes them in China, for example Fila and Descente.
- Anta has signed Klay Thompson, an NBA player for the Golden State Warriors, as the face of their advertising campaign. Thompson became very popular in China after he won several NBA titles.