Chinas Sports Market: Nike and Adidas Ahead of Anta - Li Ning, X-Tep, and 361 Far Behind

China’s Largest Sports Brand Is Anta Sports

On their home market in China, Anta Sports is the number three behind Nike and Adidas. The potential acquisition of Amer Sports could lead to the sportswear company, which is mostly unknown in Europe, becoming the worldwide number three. That could be a path-breaking decision.

Der NBA-Basketballer Klay Thompson ist Antas Werbegesicht in China.
NBA basketball player Klay Thompson is Anta's advertising face in China.

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.

Anta is planning on acquiring Amer Sports

Until now, no Chinese companies have been able to establish a position on the market with their brands. Something Anta wants to change in the near future with an acquisition. At least, the company from the southeastern city of Jinjiang is very interested  in purchasing the Finnish competitor Amer Sports, reportedly for four billion euros. Negotiations are currently taking place.

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 could become the world’s number three in the sports industry. Karen Dai and Danny He, project managers at Messe München Shanghai Co., answer the three most important questions about the up-and-coming sports brand Anta Sports.

Arc'teryx has a good reputation in China

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. An international acquisition, however, would be 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.

Anta Sports: Strong when it comes to running shoes and lifestyle products

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.

Anta’s image in China is improving

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. Logo

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