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INTERVIEW WITH NIKE CHINA
Discover the Story Behind Their Success
Past, Present and in the Future
Special Thanks to Ginger Zhu, Peter Zhang and Kejuan Wilkins for their Assistance

 

 

NIKE CONNECTS THE CHINESE
CONSUMER WITH THEIR INSPIRATION

China’s athletes are full of ambition. They challenge themselves and always seek out inspirations to make themselves better athletes. Over the years, Nike has launched a number of campaigns, special products and athlete tours in China that provide personal interaction and introduce unique innovation for consumers. From recently executing the Nike Human Race to the Manchester United tour, Nike is focused on providing consumers with authentic and inspirational experiences through sport.

For instance, in basketball we’ve completed athlete tours with top Nike players such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and the Jordan Brand’s Chris Paul. LeBron, Kobe and Chris all traveled to China in the summer of 2009 on separate tours to meet with fans, participate in youth clinics and act as ambassadors for the game of basketball. Nike athletes inspire youth, here are a few Nike highlights:

Kobe Bryant's Reality Show
Read about Kobe Bryant's activity in China, that included being honored for his efforts (along with AEG's Tim Leweike), his above-listed reality show, having the #1 Jersey (sales-wise) in China, his 2009 tour throughout Asia and charitable participation (through his Kobe Bryant China Foundation that is working with the Soong Ling Ching Foundation in China) by clicking HERE
  • LeBron has made five visits with Nike to China since 2005; his signature line of footwear has included four special China-exclusive colorways
  • Kobe has made four visits with Nike to China since 2006; his signature shoe debuted with a China edition for the first time with the Zoom Kobe IV
  • Through the Kobe Mentu campaign (‘Kobe Disciples’) in 2008, 30 Chinese players were selected out of hundreds of applicants in Shenyang, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. The finalists were flown to Beijing to participate in tryouts and players were narrowed down to 24 Kobe Mentu disciples, who were flown to Los Angeles to train with leading US basketball coaches and Kobe himself. LeBron and Kobe share their inspirations, skills, technical drills and drive during the youth clinics during their ongoing trips to China.
  • The 2008 Beijing Olympics connected the gold medal winning USA Basketball team stars with the country.
  • As part of our goal to reach consumers with interactive experiences, Nike has recently executed notable initiatives around football and running as well. This year, we completed a Manchester United China tour in Hangzhou where more than 1,500 fans from throughout China came to Hangzou to meet the team. Furthermore, the Nike Human Race, a worldwide initiative that includes races in 25 cities, took place in Ghangzhou and was well received by the country’s running community. In 2009, nearly 40,000 runners participated in the Nike Human Race Challenges in Shanghai, Wuhan and Xi’an.

STORY OF NIKE IN CHINA

Nike sought to change China's culture to include sports where education levels and test scores dictated success. So Nike's Chinese-speaking (then director of sports marketing) Terry Rhoads saw basketball as Nike's ticket and proceeded to donated equipment to Shanghai's high schools, open their basketball courts to the public after hours, organized three-on-three tournaments, founded the Nike League (a high school basketball league) and televised the finals nationally. As a result, sales picked up 60% per year before they started working with the NBA that brought in stars such as Michael Jordan. The Chinese came to call sneakers "Nai-ke."

Nike gambled that the new middle class, now some 40 million people who make an average of $8,500 a year for a family of three, was developing a whole new set of values, centered on individualism. Nike then aired TV spots contrasting Chinese-style team-oriented play with a more individualistic American style, complete with a theme song blending traditional Chinese music and hip-hop. Starting in 2001, Nike coined a new phrase for its China marketing, borrowing from American black street culture: "Hip Hoop." Nike sought to connect Nike with a creative lifestyle though hip-hop messages that connects the softened disparate elements of black cool culture and associates it with Nike. The Nike phenomenon has parents and grandparents eating and clothing themselves like children. Click HERE for more info.

 

NIKE BUILDS GRASSROOTS PROGRAMMING TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO SPORS WHILE HELPING YOUNG CHINESE ATHLETES IMPROVE THEIR GAMES

Building the community with unique grassroots programs is a top priority for Nike in China to provide youth greater access to sport. The China High School Basketball League (CHBL) and the China High School Football League (CHFL) are examples of Nike’s commitment to youth sports in the region. Nike launched the China High School Basketball League (CHBL), which is organized by the Ministry of Education's High School Students Sports Association, in its inaugural season in 2003 and has remained active ever since.

During the 2009-2010 season 2,760 boys and girls from 230 schools covering 20 cities in China compete for the annual CHBL championship.

A number of notable players, such as Michael Jordan’s appearance at the 2004 CHBL championship game, have sparked great interest from the young Chinese athletes and provided first-hand inspiration.

Nike has participated in the China High School Football League (CHFL) since 2007. During the 2008-2009 season more than 5,000 kids from 200 teams and 16 provinces participated in this football league.

 

NIKE WORKS WITH CHINESE ATHLETES
TO GAIN VALUABLE INSIGHTS


The foundation of Nike’s success in China is innovation – innovation drawn from listening to the voice of the Chinese athlete and applying creative design and technology to meet their needs. We collect and assess this insight as we design and manufacture products.
For example, knowing that a majority of basketball in China is played outdoors in the summer, the Nike design team visited outdoor courts to observe the outdoor game. Playing on the hard and dirty surfaces, Nike designers observed athletes’ footwear and equipment.

Players didn’t like wearing bulky basketball shoes and instead were looking for products that could withstand the hard courts with lightweight durability. In response, a new collection of outdoor basketball products was created for the Asian consumer – Nike Dream Season. The collection, designed with insights from Kobe Bryant, connects players with their passion for basketball and inspiration to succeed. With Nike’s strong connection to the Chinese athlete, we maintain an edge that helps athletes with the most innovative, well-tested product to improve performance.

 

NIKE DRIVES ENERGY AND GROWTH
THROUGH CONSUMER EXPERIENCES


Retail is a key focus for Nike in connecting with consumers, both online and in store. In China, Nike is taking the retail experience to the next level, delivering customization and more information.

Nike Beijing and Nike Shanghai provide consumers with premier retail destinations featuring some of our most innovative performance product. These locations provide a destination with interactive programming and professional insight that will meet their needs while advancing their training regiment. Both of Nike’s stores in Beijing and Shanghai make a strong brand statement with a world-class shopping experience.

An example of consumer interaction exists in the country’s five NIKEiD studios, where Chinese consumers have a unique design experience previously unavailable in China. Consumers can personally design footwear and apparel that matches their specific preferences with the help of full-time design consultants.

The consumer experience extends beyond retail and into the community. Nike has invested in building high quality sports facilities in China to help athletes realize their potential. In 1997 Nike established a sponsorship with Beijing’s Dongdan Park, in the heart of Beijing. In 2001 Nike China donated an artificial football pitch to the park. The playing surface was made from Nike Grind, rubber recycled from Nike shoes. One of the first such pitches in the world, it has become one of the busiest in China, attracting an average of 700 young footballers each day. Nike renewed its commitment in 2007 and replaced the pitch with updated turf designed to withstand heavy use. The brand is committed to providing consumers with viable and interactive opportunities to experience sport.

 

WE ARE VERY EXCITED ABOUT THE
OPPORTUNITIES IN CHINA


China is a key driver in Nike’s long term growth strategy. Nike remains focused on bringing the brand closer to consumers, while creating platforms for young Chinese athletes to pursue their dreams.

As Nike’s second largest market, the brand is focused on giving young Chinese athletes the opportunities and innovative products to challenge themselves and succeed. Nike is the number one sports brand in the market and we are very excited by the opportunity to continue pushing the limits on innovation and growth.

 

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