Decathlon's effortless win in China's sporting goods market
How Decathlon shapes its innovative model in the world of sporting goods-the inspiration of Decathlon in China
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Decathlon, a French sporting goods retailer initially underestimated for its affordability, has become a surprising hit in the sports industry by embracing the growing trend of "consumption downgrading" [Baiguan: the social climate in which consumers value the practicality and cost-effectiveness of products, rather than blindly pursuing high-end luxury products] in China. It inaugurated the method of big supermarket chains to sports retailing and employed diverse marketing strategies to expand its fanbase, thus setting it apart in the battle for market share against its competitors.
In today's post, we will take a look back at Decathlon's road to success and examine its key marketing strategies that have made it a global and original designer of innovative and affordable sporting goods. Additionally, we will provide you with the latest update on Decathlon's online sales in China, along with insights into its competitors such as Lululemon, Nike, Anta, and more, offering an update on the sports goods market in China.
*Today's post is not sponsored by Decathlon.
Below is Baiguan's translation of the original article:
Decathlon won effortlessly in the sports industry
At the turn of the century, Decathlon planned to set up its first store in Shanghai, China. The initial challenge was finding a suitable site.
Decathlon originally followed a global marketing strategy of setting up large stores of 4000 square meters, making it convenient for consumers to bring their whole family for a shopping spree. However, it struggled for a long time in Shanghai and finally reluctantly opened a 2000 square meter store in the underdeveloped Huamu community [Baiguan: with a planned functional positioning as the administrative and cultural center of Pudong New Area in Shanghai, as well as a public activity center for citizens].
However, other brands thrived during that time. Thousands of consumers queued overnight to buy the Nike "1st Game" at Oriental Xintiandi in Beijing [Baiguan: a commercial landmark in Beijing, known for its elite-quality one-stop shopping experience]; Li Ning's revenue exceeded 1 billion for the first time, gearing up for its upcoming IPO the following year.
Decathlon, without the promotion of CCTV [Baiguan: a central key news platform for China Central Television], was considered insignificant in the eyes of the Chinese people. At that time, any domestic brand had a larger fanbase than Decathlon.
After 20 years, however, these sports brands started to decline. Nike and Adidas found themselves stuck with billions of dollars worth of inventory and were unable to find a way out. Li-Ning, on the other hand, had no precise strategies and struggled in both the fashion and sports sectors.
Over the past two years, while the sports industry has been plagued by an inventory crisis and a general slowdown among popular sports brands, it is Decathlon, which was originally underestimated, that has effortlessly emerged victorious. It has continued its stable growth momentum, with a global revenue of €15.4 billion last year, an impressive increase of 11%, and a net profit of €923 million.
What's even harder to come by is that in the current era, where Chinese consumers are keen on "scrutinizing the texture of products with a magnifying glass," Decathlon has received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Most people deem it as the "Paradise for the Ghost of Poverty" [Baiguan: a term used to describe places that offer affordable experiences and services for low-income individuals]. And its reputation can be on par with McDonald's. This previously criticized "Paradise for Straight Man" has suddenly become a popular choice for OOTD (Outfit of the day) fashion posts on Xiaohongshu, frequently appearing alongside Arc'teryx.
Obscure for 20 years, how did Decathlon suddenly turn the tide?
Baiguan: In the paid section below, we will provide an update on the latest online sales growth comparison of major sports brands, including Lululemon, Decathlon, Nike, Anta, and Li Ning. We will focus on the performance of these brands on major e-commerce channels such as Tmall, JD, Douyin, and Taobao. Additionally, we will translate the article to further analyze the strategy behind Decathlon's success in China, along with our data insights, to help you gain a comprehensive understanding of the current sports market in China.
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