As in Europe, the global leaders Nike and Adidas dominate the sports market in China. Currently, the industry already generates ten percent of its total sales in China, and the two largest companies are considered status symbols. However, a faction of Chinese competitors has formed in their shadow. Behind Adidas and Nike follow the brands Anta Sports, Li Ning, X-tep and 361.
China still produces the most sporting goods in the world and is also buying more and more due to the government's promotion of sports and the growing middle class. "Anta, Li Ning or 361 are all brands from medium-sized cities. But the international brands are so strong that it is impossible for Chinese companies to enter the premium market with their own brands," says Karen Dai, Project Group Director ISPO Beiing & ISPO Shanghai.
Until now, no Chinese company has been able to position itself as a brand on the European market. What at least Anta changed at the beginning of 2019. The company from the southeastern Chinese Jinjiang, has acquired the Finnish competitor Amer Sports, for 4.6 billion euros.
Amer carries well-known brands such as Salomon, Arc'teryx, Peak Performance and Atomic, and is roughly the size of 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 in the Chinese sports market from an economic point of view?
Anta is undoubtedly the number 1 Chinese brand and number 3 overall in the Chinese sports market from an economic point of view. However, an international acquisition is now the fastest way for Anta to improve its image. Because the Amer brand Arc'teryx, for example, has already built up a very good reputation in China.
What product portfolio does Anta offer?
Anta offers a wide range of products, including basketball shoes and apparel, running shoes and apparel, lifestyle and outdoor. However, the outdoor segment is very small. In addition, Anta buys and distributes several brands in China to offer various products, including Fila or Descente.
How does Anta's image in China compare to Western brands like Nike or Adidas, which are highly regarded?
Anta has long been seen as a normal Chinese sports brand, mainly offering a low price and producing in Tier-3, -4 or -5 cities. However, like Li Ning, the company cannot compete with Nike or Adidas.
Recently, Anta has gained a much better image. The reasons:
- Anta supports the Chinese Olympic Committee. This means that all Chinese athletes will wear Anta clothing for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games.
- Anta buys international brands and distributes them in China, including Fila and Descente.
- Anta has tied Klay Thompson, NBA player with the Golden State Warriors, as its advertising face. Thompson is popular in China, having won several NBA titles.