After the successful feast the Beijing Olympics in 2008, there is a sports trend around China, whether in big cities or rural area. Therefore the competition among sports goods marketers has been fiercer and fiercer.

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In the five years to 2018, revenue for the Sporting Goods Wholesaling industry in China is estimated to increase an annualized 7.6% to $50 billion. Over the five-year period, the main factors driving industry performance have been higher consumption in China, large sporting events hosted by China, people’s increasing pursuit for healthier lifestyles and the country’s active involvement in international trade within the World Trade Organization (WTO) framework.

The Obstacle for Foreign Marketers to Sell Sporting Goods in China

Cost always is the prior concern for any business. For sports goods marketers to China, inventory expenses are a major cost for sporting goods wholesalers, accounting for about 15.7% of industry revenue. And there is a substantial barrier for prospective entrants probably caused by the ability to effectively manage and control inventories. Significantly, now foreign enterprises must still be certified by the Ministry of Commerce.

China’s Market is Huge and the Potential is Even Bigger Online

China’s online retail sakes is huge and potentially bigger. In 2015, online retail sales in China totaled $581 billion, a 33% rise from 2014. Except popular sporting goods, there are more products sold online in a large amount, such as smartphones, groceries, beer, antiques, and even art.

A growing portion of China’s 1.4 billion people are making discretionary purchases every day, and it’s showing no signs of stopping. By 2020, BCG forecasts there will be 280 million affluent consumers in China with a disposable income of $20K to $1m. Between now and then, average incomes will have tripled, if not more.  In general, whatever you’re selling, it’s hard not to take notice of China.

The Affection of Foreign Brands

The truth is almost Chinese people are more willing to buy things from the e-commerce platforms. For them, they love buying western products because Western brands are generally perceived as higher quality and safer, with more “cool-factor”.

According to BCG, 61% of Chinese would pay more for US-made products. In certain categories, the preference is even higher. The World Luxury Association found 86% of Chinese consumers refuse to buy luxury goods labeled “Made in China”.  61% of Chinese have less confidence in local food than in 2011, and 28% expect to replace their domestic purchases with imports says Ipsos.


5 Most Popular Sporting Goods Brands in China

As mentioned above, Chinese people prefer Western brands than any else brands, such as Nike or Adidas.


Founded in 1964, Nike is indisputably one of the most widely recognized athletic brands in the world, which includes of course, China. Nike, who expanded internationally in 1978 to markets in Canada, Australia, Europe and South America didn’t arrive in China till 1980 after market reforms, but is currently one of the most popular athletic brands among Chinese youth.

  1. Adidas

Founded in Germany by Adolf Dassler in 1948, Adidas entered China in 1997, almost 20 years behind competitor Nike, which helps explain the market gap, but as the second most popular athletic brand in China, and a vast retail network, Adidas isn’t particularly worried

  1. Li Ning

Founded in 1990, China Li Ning Company Limited is China’s largest sporting goods retailer, sells its own brand ” Li Ning ” sports shoes, apparel and accessories. In 1990 the company founded by former Chinese gymnast Li Ning, Li Ning Chairman of the Board and Executive Director. By the end of 2007 as the world’s fourth brand Li Ning sporting goods industry, the company founder Li Ning in 2008 Beijing Olympic torchbearers lit the Olympic flame.

  1. Anta

Founded in 1994 in China, Anta Sports Products Limited is a joint venture between Sports Goods Co Ltd. ,Footwear Co., Ltd.  Beijing Oriental Anta Sports Products Limited and Anta (Hong Kong ) International Investment Company. After years of effort, Anta has moved from simply being a regional sports shoes manufacturing enterprises to the development of a national integrated marketing -oriented sporting goods conglomerate.

  1. Converse

Founded in the United States in 1908, specializing in manufacturing men’s shoes and children’s insoles, Converse was once one of the most popular sport shoes in the world, and held a near monopoly on sport shoes in the 1950’s and 1960’s in the United States. Purchased by Nike in 2003, converse continues to grow in popularity in the Chinese market with outlets in nearly every major city throughout China. Converse continues to be hip shoe worn by young trendsetters throughout the country.

How to Market Your Sporting Goods in China?

Branding is Everything for Your Business

Branding in China is one of the most important things. Chinese consumers buy the name of a brand. They want to buy premium, reputable brands.

You need to build a strong image of your brand. Branding is a way to be popular in China. Make people dream, make beautiful story around your brand name. It’s the key of success in China.

Establish Your Own Website in E-commerce Platforms

One of the best ways to sell your products is selling on some popular e-commerce platforms in China, because Chinese people love to check their demands on e-commerce platforms than real stores, such as Tmall.

Tmall is the most reputable cross border e-commerce platform in China. Chinese people trust Tmall because this platform galunteer to sell consumers only with quality and authentic goods.

A storefront is essential to the China retail strategy of leading global businesses. It’s the most effective way for China market penetration. But Tmall only accepted brands who have already a significant presence and realized high sales in China. That’s why a lot of companies are rejected by the platform which wants to keep a high standard.

There are two ways to join Tmall’s platform: If you are a company with China in-country business operations, you can apply to Tmall. com; If you are a company with overseas licenses, you are eligible to Tmall Global.

In addition, selling on another cross-border ecommerce platforms is also favorable and lucrative, such as Haitao or Xiaohongshu.

Work on Your Ranking on SEO with Chinese Website

75% of the researches in China are on Baidu. You need to have a good ranking on Baidu to be visible. Chinese consumers will only buy brands which have a good ranking on Baidu. To develop your visibility on Baidu, you can use different marketing solutions as Pay Per Click (PPC) or Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

You can also do SEO. It’s extremely efficient but asking more work. It requires you to create good content, sharable, using keywords in order to increase your presence on the web for search engines.

Social Media will Increase the Visibility of Your Business


Chinese users are very actives on social media platforms. They are used to comment, share their purchase, and give purchasing advices. The two most used social media platforms in China are Wechat and Weibo.


WeChat has more than 800 million active users every day. The social media platform is amazing with a lot of convenient features useful for brands and users. For brands,it’s really easy to communicate with your target and develop a strong communicty of followers. Having an account on WeChat enables you to promote your brand via mobile or tablet. And you also can sell your products on WeChat store.


Weibo can be associated with online shopping and 85% of consumers frequently use social media to share their online shopping experiences and 55% have participated in a discussion about a foreign brand.

The social media platform attracted more than 130 000 companies, because it’s a really effective way to develop your e-reputation. Brands have to create a Weibo Official Account to improve their presence in China and attract more followers. More than 56% of Weibo users follow at least one brand on Weibo.

Influencers can Promote Your Business


Influencers or KOLs are really powerful in China. They are simply users who drive traffic on their pages with good and interesting contents. Chinese consumers love following KOLs on social media and they listen to their advices.

You can employ a KOL in you communication strategy. He or she will be the image of your brand and can help your to develop your image toward Chinese consumers. It’s an effective way to develop your awareness and brand image in China, because Chinese consumers trust more KOLs than brands.

There are a lot of sports celebrities or famous players in China in every event. Due to a large sports fans base, choosing right sports influencers will boost your business to a new level.

Gentlemen Marketing Agency is specialized in the digital marketing in the Chinese market. Do not hesitate to contact us if you want to discuss any projects in China.