Double Take

8 Apr

A colleague was just outside of Beijing and took this snap for me. Li Ning have been around since 1989 and were started by the legendary Chinese athlete of the same name (4 gold medals in LA84 games)

It feels like it is derived half from Nike and half from adidas. Check out the tagline ‘Anything is Possible’, with the store environment being very much out of Nikes locker. Essentially the product has up until this point imitated what the western brands do, their innovation centers are in the US and designers end up being poached from the big brands.

My question here is what should the focus of the brand be going forward as they continue to grow in China (projected 4,000 stores by 2010) ? Do they try and imitate western brands as that is what Chinese consumers have aspired to for so long, or do they really put a stake in the ground and say we are proud of our Chinese roots – we are a Chinese brand that is led by Chinese principles and culture.

When Western consumers started desiring flat clean lined sneakers a few years back, they turned to sports like Taekwondo and Asics who had been making these for the eastern market for many years.

It would be very refreshing to see Li Ning use Chinese design and thinking for the brand, becoming one of the first brands that the Chinese can be really truly proud of and the first that Western consumers start to desire.

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