Sneakers are playing an important role in the fashion footwear sector, fitting a wide audience from teenagers, from Gen Z to the Silver generation. With a 1.4 billion population, the Chinese market is a huge opportunity for a growing sneaker brand.
In China, sneakers are far ahead of any type of shoe such as heels or leather shoes. Why? Because Chinese men and women are looking for a comfortable and stylish outfit, always including sneakers. However, marketing in China is not that easy due to the unique features it has. How a brand can perform in the Chinese market is highly dependent on how much they know about China and the Chinese customers.
The Chinese Sneaker Market is Among the Biggest in the World
Benefiting from the 1.4 billion population and the world’s 2nd GDP, the Chinese sneaker market is huge. With a market revenue of 15.06 billion USD in 2022, it accounts for 20.7% of the world sneaker market according to Statista. By entering a single market, you are benefiting from one-fifth of the world’s revenue.
Comparison Between the Growth Rate of China and Worldwide
The Chinese sneakers market is not only big but also growing rapidly. From the graph showing the revenue change of the sneaker market in China and worldwide, China is far ahead in terms of revenue. Despite the negative impact coursed by the strike of Covid, the Chinese market is always growing at a higher speed than the worldwide market. In all markets, the market revenue change rate bounced back soon after the Covid.
There are enough reasons to believe that the Chinese sneaker market will take a greater market share in the following years which made it essential for a sneaker brand to enter the Chinese market.
E-commerce is an Important Distribution Channel in China
Due to the development of online shopping and online payment methods, e-commerce is the key sales channel for sneakers brands. Customers in China are very used to making daily purchases from pens to smartphones and fashion products. Chinese consumers used to shop online thanks to a wider assortment and unique activations.
In recent years, Chinese customers are more and more willing to go to offline sneaker stores for extra shopping experience which led to the online sneaker revenue share dropping from 60.7% in 2017 to 47.9% in 2021. Online sales are still accounting for a huge percentage of total sales revenue, the majority of sneakers brands combining e-commerce and local distribution.
The main e-commerce platforms in China include Tmall, Taobao, and JD. They are different from Amazon so you need to be 100% careful not to take the wrong strategy. As a result, to succeed in Chinese e-commerce sales, cooperating with e-commerce partners such as TP (Tmall Partner) is a wise solution to help you launch your official store, doing sales promotion and online marketing.
Who are the Potential Customers of Sneaker Brands in China?
According to a report released by Statista, 57.3% of the Gen Z participants in the survey are interested in online shopping, 35.7% of them enjoy offline shopping and 28.7% of them have the hobby of sports and fitness training. Also, the younger generation has a stronger taste and demand for stylish footwear which counts for a large audience for sneaker brands at different price levels.
Today, the current hot brands include fashion sneakers such as Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Veja, Converse, etc. Combined with sporty sneakers such as Adidas, Reebok, Asics, etc.
Tips for Sneaker Branding on the Chinese Market
- Target the younger generation (Gen Z) as the main audience
- Build up an online e-commerce store on one e-commerce platform (Tmall)
- Be active on social media to stay visible
- Show your unique design, concept, and personality
- Never ignore any platform for fashion products
- Listen to the customers and give respect and feedback asap
Where Sneakers Lovers Check Shoe Reviews?
According to a Chinese sneaker lover Mr. Li, sneaker lovers share a similar pattern with other fashion products but there are also many differences. There are discussions and sharings on all social media like Xiaohongshu, Douyin, Weibo, and WeChat. But when they are looking for professional opinions and the latest news, they are more willing to follow some KOLs, especially in the sneaker fields by subscribing to their accounts on WeChat.
These accounts post articles with the latest news, comment on certain sneaker products, and also advertisement in the form of recommendation which is trusted by the followers. Marketing on WeChat with these KOLs can target very precisely sneaker lovers which is the core audience of sneaker brands.
Xiaohongshu is Leading the Fashion Sneakers Trend
Xiaohongshu is a very common tool used by fashion brands. Every user of Xiaohongshu can be both publisher and audience (mixing UGC and PGC content) which formed a very interactive community for fashion products. Time by time, there will be some products that will go popular on Xiaohongshu and soon become the new trend for that period.
Similar to WeChat, there are a lot of KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) on Xiaohongshu publishing information, comment, and recommendation about sneakers. Teaching their followers how to choose their sneakers, how to outfit as well as where to buy them at the best price. Taking good advantage of Xiaohongshu is key to staying visible in the Chinese market and also gathering your core users to create your community.
Being Fashion and Playful on Douyin (TikTok)
Douyin is quite different from WeChat and Xiaohongshu because short videos are the only thing people share on Douyin. The idea is to make creative and playful videos to share with your audience. The main strength of Douyin for your brand is the virality and high exposure of your content to a targeted audience. The sneakers lovers will be more exposed to your content than other accounts.
In 2022, Chinese customers are tired of traditional advertisements and they are more willing to watch short videos with genius ideas, and they want to show personality and get entertainment. With a huge audience, your brand might get popular overnight if your video is a mind breaker and got hot on Douyin.
Combine Distribution and E-Commerce for a Winning Sales Strategy
Distribution will no longer be a problem that bothers you so much! Combining your distribution channel with e-commerce can not only save both time and cost for you and the customer but also make every single delivery clear and traceable. Building up a distribution network between your storage and your customer never became so easy thanks to the local logistics services.
Mixing your offline and online sales is a winning strategy. A majority of international brands are only thinking of this as one side of a coin, always choosing between distribution OR e-commerce. But when you combine both, you increase your brand exposure and target very specific provinces and cities of this wide country.
Importance of Offline Distributors and Fashion Retailers
Distirbution is the key to unlock both online and offline channels. In China, opening your own offline shop is too expensive. Partnering with local retailers will help you to be available offline while saving some investment. The best strategy is to find importers and distributors that will sell your products offline. When you start this strategy, it is key to understand that the Chinese distribution market is very different from the west. Chinese distributors are not business angels, and they will always try to make the best deal out of the negotiation with you.
What you need if you want to do distribution in China:
- Chinese offline brochure
- Pricelist in RMB
- Support in offline marketing for merchandising display in stores
- Support in digital marketing for targeted ads on social media
Poizon (得物), an Extremely Important Platform for Sneaker
Poizon is a key e-commerce platform, especially for fashion and accessories. This is very special for sneakers because Poizon was developed from a sneaker platform called “毒APP” which was offering pre-purchase service for sneakers, online sales, secondhand sneaker sales as well as the authenticity of sneakers which helped a lot of sneaker lovers to know the sneaker they bought is a real one or a fake. It soon got a huge audience and their trust in terms of sneakers. As a result, Poizon inherited this core audience of sneaker lovers and their trust which made it extremely essential for sneaker brands
Find Your One-Stop Partner to Get All the Support You Need!
It is hard to do the marketing from zero in the Chinese market, develop your Guanxi or professional network of Chinese distributors, and open Chinese online stores. You need to get through all different platforms and apply the right strategy for the right audience. Why not find yourself a one-stop partner who can help you build your business in China from zero bases?
We are GMA, experts in helping brands do marketing, distribution, and e-commerce in China. With more than 10 years of experience, we are trusted by various brands to get support for their project of development in China.
We can help you to build your e-commerce store on all platforms, set up commercial plans carefully designed for your brand, find the KOLs that can help your business on all social media, and everything you need to know in the Chinese market.
Contact us for your China program, GMA will be your one and all solution.