While they were originally designed to be worn in sports halls, today, athlete or not, everyone wears sneakers! They are worn at the feet of fashionistas on the sidewalks of all the trendiest cities. Even the biggest designers have started to include sneakers in their new collections. This movement started with the advance of the street culture born in the mid 70’s with the hip-hop wave in the Bronx. Although this crop is relatively less present in Asia than in other parts of the world, China still represents an important and promising market in the one of sneakers’. This is even the most important market in terms of potential customers!
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Sneakers fashion: the advance of street culture in China
While the United States remains the place to be for sneaker and street culture, Asia has still made its way toward this lifestyle. Even if the largest stores and collections are not there, more and more Chinese are interested in the “street style wave”. Street culture is gradually making its nest in Asia. While this style is far from their traditional one, the sneaker community in China has been growing since China’s opening to the world. It was Japan that first received this wave of fashion and then influenced China.
Young Japanese are known around the world for being very creative and trendy. They know the latest trends and are always on top of fashion. So they were naturally the first receptive to American style currents. The phenomenon of street culture appeared later in China and Korea, approximately in the early 2000s. The Chinese have always been inspired by Japanese trends in fashion. In addition, China is a country with a great interest in basketball. This sport also allowed them to discover the world of sneaker through their idols, such as Michael Jordan and Yao Ming.
The situation of the sneaker market in China
Today, many brands of sneakers are very well established in China. This is particularly the case of New Balance, Adidas and Nike. All three of them are very successful in China. They control most of the sneaker market. But this market has settled very quickly and it has not finished developing. Competitors such as Le Coq Sportif or Saucony are gradually taking over, which proves that there are growing market opportunities in this country. Streetwear brands are more and more present and we can see in big cities more and more Chinese dare this style of fashion. This is particularly the case in Shanghai, the capital of fashion, or in Shenzhen, where skateboarding is enjoying a greater success than ever.
The advantage of sneakers is that there is something for everyone. With a population of 1.5 billion, China is a huge market that promises promise regardless of the model. The “ghetto” style sneakers will delight fashion addicts, while the designer sneakers will be perfect for the “working men and woman”, having to survive the fast pace of big cities. China is the country with the most billionaires in the world, so luxury sneakers are a perfect product to market here.
How to conquer the sneaker market in China?
The Chinese are using e-commerce extensively to make their purchases, far more than in the West. They have more choice, the prices are varied, the delivery is extremely fast, they do not waste time in store … since the massive digitization of China, everything pushes consumers to order online! The two biggest platforms that are present are Tmall (owned by Alibaba) and JD.com (by Tencent). The shoes are also the third largest purchase made on average by Chinese consumers on Taobao (the B2C part of Tmall). Sneakers are therefore occupying an increasing margin online. That’s why it will be very important for you to offer your products using those! In addition, the Chinese will have more facilities to order your product by buying them through a trusted website.
Competition is tough in China, you have to know how to stand out! A big marketing effort is therefore expected to catch their eye. Puma created a pack collection exclusively for Asian consumers for the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Horse (2014). Nike had also produced a new model for China, the “Nike Lebron Low 11 China”. This kind of initiative proves the interest of the Chinese for this market, but also the great efforts to be made to be able to break through.
- Create a community
In a country where social networks are so important, it is unthinkable to come to China without creating an official WeChat account. Moreover, since street culture is still largely a minority in China, the Chinese appreciate the sense of community that brings them together. Social networks are perfect for that, but beware, Western networks are censored in China and it will be necessary to impose on their own networks!
If you need help with your digital marketing strategy to conquer the Chinese market, think about us! Gentlemen Marketing Agency is based in Shanghai and knows the Chinese market wonderfully.
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