Sportswear in China – Who’s winning the race?

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Sportswear in China – Who’s winning the race between Anta, Adidas, Nike, Li Ning, Xtep?

Sportswear brands in China are benefitting from a fitness boom, partially due to a government-backed fitness push. China’s “athleisure” market is growing and both domestic and foreign sportswear brands are seeing increasing sales. So the question is – which brands are gaining share, and which brands are growing the fastest?

Since Chinese consumers are increasingly buying apparel online, we examined sportswear sales on China’s largest B2C e-commerce platform, Alibaba’s Tmall. When we compared sales of the top 5 brands by revenue for the most recent 3 months, we noted some interesting trends:


Sportswear Top 5 on Tmall Mar-May 2017 (ANTA, Nike, Adidas, Li Ning, Xtep)

American sportswear giants Nike and Adidas still reign supreme among sportwear brands on Tmall.  However, domestic brand Anta is gaining share, increasing its market share by a full percentage point.  Nike also increased its share, while Adidas and Xtep saw some share declines.  We then decided to look at y/y sales growth during the same period:

Sportswear Top 5 on Tmall Mar-May 2017 yoy (Anta, Adidas, Nike, Xtep, Li Ning)


Anta is the clear leader with over 70% y/y growth during the March – May period, well ahead of the overall sportswear sector. Nike is also outperforming, while Xtep and Adidas are clearly underperforming.

In a “just for fun” analysis, we looked at which brands were performing the best during China’s 11/11 “Singles Day”:


Sportswear Singles Day Top 5 on Tmall Mar-May 2017 ((Anta, Adidas, Nike, Xtep, Li Ning)


We compared each brand’s market share on Tmall for the period of Oct – Nov 2016. In each instance, market share of these top brands increased. However, Nike and Adidas dramatically increased their market share during the key shopping holiday, with both brands increasing their share by 3% or more. Either the two Western brands were more successful in monetizing the Singles Day holiday, or, Chinese consumers still have a preference for Nike and Adidas when those brands go on sale.

Finally, we stepped away from largest brands and compared y/y sales growth of all major sportswear brands on Tmall.  Anta shows up again in the top 5 fastest growing brands, but Adidas, Nike, Li Ning, and Xtep disappeared entirely:

Sportswear Fastest Growth on Tmall Mar-May 2017 yoy (Anta, Camel, Puma, Under Armour, Skechers)


Skechers is the clear outlier among major sports brands in terms of y/y sales growth.  This result is consistent with our offline, brick-and-mortar data, which is showing strong growth for Skechers as well.

In summary, Anta emerges as the clear winner in a race of sportswear brands in China, gaining share among the top 5.  Skechers also rises to the top in a comparison of the fastest growing brands, though it’s worth noting that among the top sportswear brands on Tmall by sales value, Skechers has yet to break the top 10.  Though if SKX keeps up the triple-digit growth rates, it’ll be there soon enough.

Sandalwood Advisors is Asia’s first alternative data platform. For more details about the sportswear sector in China, please contact us here.  You can also follow us on Twitter @sandalwooddata or on LinkedIn