Li Ning in with Nike and Adidas to Carve Up Sportswear Market

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Brand loyalty is stronger for Li Ning than for the two leading foreign brands, suggesting that modern marketing strategy is taking hold on the Chinese mainland much more quickly than had previously been anticipated.

A study jointly undertaken by Horizon Research and on leading sports shoe brands in 2003, Li Ning leads in brand loyalty with 53.4%, followed by Adidas and Nike with 39.8% and 39.1% respectively.

However, two other domestic brands - Shuangxing and Anta - are not faring too well in the loyalty stakes, scoring 13.4% and 15.1% respectively, but that could be down to the fact that sufficient work has not been done as yet to position them in the market, and may also reflect the fewer competitive features that these smaller brands can offer.

Analysis of market competition between different brands shows that, for all purposes, Li Ning is already on a par with international heavyweights in all departments and has become their major rival in China. Anta, Shuangxing and other domestic brands that target the lower end of the market are no match for Nike, Adidas and other big names, nor pose any substantive pressure on these brands.

Analysis of foreign brands shows that among non-loyal consumers of Nike (those who buy Nike sports clothing but other brands of sports shoes or buy Nike shoes but other brands of sports clothing), over 50% have "switched allegiance" to domestic brands while less than 50% have chosen foreign brands.

Further studies found that the majority of those who "switched allegiance" to domestic brands mainly turned to the domestic market leader - Li Ning. So, Li Ning is the major competitor for Nike, and its threat to Nike even surpasses that of the latter's long-time rivalry with Adidas. But Nike cannot overlook Adidas, because those who switched to foreign brands actually ended up choosing Adidas.
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