Compare and Contrast the Marketing Strategies of Li Ning Critical Essay

Last Updated: 07 Sep 2020
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With the development of Chinese economy, sports industry has become one of the new industries in china, which has large market size and high growth rate (Qinqin, n. d. ). In Chinese sports area, Li Ning brand, built by famous gymnast Li Ning (Enright, 2012), is the market leader and owns about 8000 hypostatic shops domestically (Zhang,2011). Similar to some international famous brands like Nike and Adidas, Li Ning intends to enhance influence by exploring international market (Sauer, 2012).

For this reason, the essay will compare and contrast the marketing strategies of Li Ning domestically and internationally. A close look at the sources available, it seems that the topic could be analyzed from the internal aspect such as sales methods, promotion and the external aspect such as consumption concept and competition. The essay will compare and analyze Li Ning’s marketing strategies by the internal and external aspects’ factors. From the internal perspective, there are two main sales strategies should be considered as follows: sales methods and promotion.

In regard to sales methods, Li Ning implements entity sales and e-commerce sales at home and abroad simultaneously (Anon, 2011a, Voight, 2012 and Zhang, 2011). Nevertheless, the focus of sales methods might be different considering the contrasting name reputation domestically and internationally. Li Ning, named after china’s gold-medaling gymnast, is very famous in china, especially after the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing (Enright, 2012). As typical local brand with high name reputation, Li Ning chooses entity sales as its main way of sale domestically and there are almost 8000 hypostatic shops in china (Zhang, 2011).

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Whereas the name Li Ning perhaps unfamiliar in the West. For instance, the marketing firm tested the brand with U. S. customers and the result shows that brand awareness was almost 0% (Enright, 2012). Rather than seeing it as a bad thing, Li Ning sees it as a launch point to “upgrade the brand image and win recognition from consumers” (Zhang, 2011). What is why “Li-Ning is planning to concentrate on the new online portal before opening more brick-and-mortar stores” in U. S. market (Anon, 2011a). In order to achieve more name reputation and higher sales, Li Ning fixes much attention n another sales strategy, promotion, as well. Both foreign and domestic, Li Ning has been paying much attention to Olympic Games and sports super stars (Anon, 2011b and Sauer, 2012). At home, since 1992 in Barcelona, China’s Olympic terms have chosen Li Ning as a fixture and the brand still counts on gold-medal terms such as Chinese ping pong, shooting gymnastics and badminton teams (Anon, 2011b). Overseas, Li Ning was the 30th Olympic Games sponsorship in 2012 (Sauer, 2012) and invited NBA All-Star teams players to speak for it (Anon, 2011b).

Moreover, according to different national culture, Li Ning even used different slogans to appeal to the nationalist fervor. For instance, where the word “you” was used by Nike in America, Li Ning chose the slogan “we can” domestically and “the moment” for international audience (Anon, 2011b). On the other hand, in external aspect, Li Ning has taken a series of measures to deal with two social problems: target groups and fierce competition (Anon, 2011a, Ranasinghe, 2012 and Zhang, 2011). With the rapid development of internationalization, various views on Chinese goods have been published.

In china, instead of praising highly local brand, Chinese customers are worried about the Chinese sports brand’s store quality is not equal to the brand's quantity (Zhang, 2011), preferring internationally famous brands like Nike and Adidas (Ranadinghe, 2012) and transforming the cost from sports to food and beverage (Ranasinghe, 2012). On abroad, although some older consumers usually think of China-made products as fakes or knockoffs, younger consumers do not see Chinese products as second-class or counterfeits (Enright, 2012).

Regarding the situation, in recent years, Li Ning has been trying to make the brand more youthful and upmarket (Anon, 2011b). For the new strategy, Li Ning not only created a new logo and new slogans but also launched many new products with a better outlook and quality, which aimed to appeal to domestic and foreign younger generation (Zhang, 2011). Furthermore, Li Ning has managed to expand to different areas at home and internationally as well (Anon, 2011a, Anon 2011b and Wen, 2012).

In view of China’s family planning policy, Li Ning has rejoined the battle of children’s garments by cooperated with another company in Tianjin (Wen, 2012). In consideration of the case that many foreign customers have great curiosity about eastern culture (Voight, 2012); Li Ning puts brand international feeling over oriental theme (Zhang, 2012). For example, in March 2012, Li Ning promoted a pair of men’s basketball shoes with the Chinese dragon pattern which was a limited edition on Facebook, and then the tremendous crowds to Li Ning’s website led it to collapse (Voight, 2012).

In addition, Women have become another one of the main target groups of Li Ning overseas (Anon, 2011a). Next, the second problem Li Ning is facing is the large-scale competition with local brands and international brands domestically and internationally (Anon, 2011a et al). The fierce competition “not only has it been forced to scale back its plans for world domination, but it also now finds itself at risk in its home market against domestic rivals like Peak and 361°, but also with global heavy hitters Nike and Adidas” (Sauer, 2012).

The difference is that language might be the main barrier Li Ning needs to face in international market (Zhang, 2012). With a view to the situation, on the one hand, Li Ning decided to slow the pace of new openings and close some inefficient stores to curtail expense and store energy (Ranasinghe, 2012); on the other hand, Li Ning would enter the second-tier cities to achieve next phase of growth (Anon, 2012). To sum up, in internal aspect, Li Ning chooses both entity sales and e-commerce sales at home and abroad. Different focuses are determined due to large name reputation difference.

To achieve more popularity, Li Ning focuses on Olympic Games and sports super stars with different slogans. Furthermore, in external aspect, facing the customers’ different consumption views on Chinese brands domestically and internationally, Li Ning transforms its attention to younger people and set new different target groups both domestic and foreign. Li Ning has been facing increased competition with global names and local rivals, and what is why Li Ning determines to slow the pace of new openings and enter the second-tier cities.

In future, Li Ning could make greater breakthrough by implementing brand strategy, constructing international brand image, developing technology innovation and improving enterprises’ core competitiveness (Zhang, 2012).


  1. Anon. (2011a) Li-Ning plans global push [online] London Warc. Available from: http://www. warc. com/Content/News/Li-Ning_plans_global_push. content? ID=e7907838-2cd7-4859-ae44-f1695abdbd52= (Accessed: 3 October 2012). Anon. (2011b) China's Li-Ning Takes on Nike, Adidas With U.
  2. S. E-Commerce Site [online] New York Ad Age. Available from: http://adage. com/article/cmo-interviews/china-s-li-ning-takes-nike-u-s-e-commerce-site/231642/ (Accessed: 3 October 2012) Anon. (2012) China's sportswear brands nurse Olympics hangover [online] China Chinadaily. Available from: http://www. chinadaily. com. cn/business/londongames/2012-07/02/content_15542591. htm (Accessed: 3 October 2012). Enright, A. (2012) Li-Ning makes its U. S. debut [online] Chicago Internetretailer.
  3. Available from: http://www. internetretailer. com/2012/01/16/li-ning-makes-its-us-debut (Accessed: 3 October 2012). Qinqin, D. (n. d. ) Comparative analysis of Chinese and Western Sporting Goods Enterprises’ Growth Pattern. Wuhan, China: Dept. of Sports Economics & Management, Wuhan Inst. of P. E. Ranasinghe, D. (2012)
  4. No Medals for China’s Sportswear Firms [online] US CNBC. Accessed from: http://www. cnbc. com/id/48454835/No_Medals_for_China_s_Sportswear_Firms (Accessed: 3 October 2012). Sauer, A. 2012) London 2012: Success as Li-Ning 'Makes a Change' in Olympics Strategy [online] London Brandchannel.
  5. Available from: http://www. warc. com/Content/News/Li Ning_plans_global_push. content? ID=e7907838-2cd7-4859-ae44-f1695abdbd52= (Accessed: 3 October 2012). Voight, J. (2012) Video Is Lifeblood of Li-Ning's 'New China' Sneaker Launch [online] New York Clickz. Available from: http://www. clickz. com/clickz/news/2166538/video-lifeblood-li-nings-china-sneaker-launch (Accessed: 3 October 2012). Wen, W. 2012)
  6. Li Ning rejoins race in children's wear market [online] China Chinadaily. Available from: http://www. chinadaily. com. cn/business/2012-05/12/content_15276320. htm (Accessed: 3 October 2012). Zhang, D. (2011) Li-Ning sportswear looks to win overseas [online] London BBC. Available from: http://www. bbc. co. uk/news/business-12665597 (Accessed: 3 October 2012). Zhang, X. (2012
  7. ‘Marketing Plan for Li-Ning Product Expansion in UK’, Lecture Notes in Information Technology, Vol(14), Wuhan, China: Dept. of Sports Economics & Management, Wuhan Inst. of P. E.

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