The Chinese are rapidly expanding outside China. Recently the Chinese sport brand Li-ning has made its debute to the US market with a brand new web shop. Probably you've never heard of them and that's what they realized as well. Market research showed there was no brand awareness related to Li-Ning. The brand has to be build from the ground up. They decided to do this basing on a clear e-commerce strategy.
Famous in China, unknown in the rest of the world
In China, Li-Ning hardly needs an introduction. There are more than 8,000 Li-Ning stores in China, and it is the No. 2-selling athletic brand in the country, according to Acquity, after Nike. The company’s founder and namesake, Li Ning, is a former Olympic gymnast who won six medals in the 1984 Olympic Games. It was Li Ning who lit the Olympic cauldron during the opening games in Beijing in 2008. Li Ning has ambitious plans to challenge rivals like Nike on their home turf with his namesake brand.
"The U.S. is obviously important for any sports brand to have a presence in ... [and] in the short term the most cost-effective manner to reach that market, to get products to consumers, is through the e-commerce platform," said CMO Frank Chen.
The biggest brand you’ve never heard of
Basing on market research Li-Ning knew they would have to start creating brand awareness and they treat this as a big opportunity. The e-commerce store was launched with the slogan "The biggest brand you’ve never heard of... now available here". Their webshop offers about 100 shoe and apparel products styled and sized for American consumers and they expect to double its product offerings by the end of the year.
According to Ray Grady, general manager at Li-ning.com they plan to target the curiosity of younger people with a slightly higher income and urban. Those are the consumers who described China as intriguing and mysterious.
“There wasn’t a fear or a negative,” Grady says.
Google has already fully accepted this new brand. Thus, Li-Ning could obviously lead to all kinds of "wrong" search keywords like "li ning" and "lining". However, Google is very helpful when using "li ning", but "lining" still shows something slightly different than Li-Ning.com has to offer.
The e-shop has all it needs
Li-Ning.com has all the features like videos, pictures, recommendations and social media integration, consumers expect in e-commerce sites today. They offer free holiday shipping and we are curious whether this will remain their policy. The e-commerce site is built on the Hybris Software platform, and Ingram Micro Logistics handles warehousing and fulfillment.
What do you think about Li-Ning? Will they manage? Do you like their webshop? What about their products? We are really curious how they will be doing and whether they will manage to find their place in the market. For sure we like their effort to build their new brand based on a clear e-commerce strategy.