Converse recasts itself as 'brand of youth'

2020-12-29 12:03:54

Visitors take photographs of Converse shoes at a shopping mall in Chengdu, Sichuan province, in November. [Photo provided to China Daily] Sportswear maker targets younger generation to burnish its image in Chinese market Converse, a prominent sportswear brand for over 100 years, has made it a priority to engage more with local youth in communities across China. The Nike-owned brand is making the younger generation key stakeholders in its innovation and production process, its top executive said. In a self-conducted market survey, Converse has found many consumers in China consider it an old brand. The finding has pushed the sportswear maker to launch campaigns and innovations to change that perception. "We actually want to be a brand of youth and for youth," said Matthew Jung, general manager of Converse Asia. "You need to help participate with them every day. "Young consumers in China are super optimistic, have an incredible world-view and are creative. They find creative solutions for everything, whether it's education, gaming, creating art or expressing themselves." Therefore, this year Converse has launched "All Stars" campaign to fuel the acquisition of new consumers. It appears to be paying off. Zhang Liang, 25, a marketing professional based in Shanghai, said he and his friends, who have known the brand since college days, are inspired by the All Stars campaign. "Young people are interested in cultivating a distinct individuality, a unique personality. The new message from Converse has encouraged us by saying everyone can be a star," Liang said. "It makes wearing the Converse canvas shoes extra cool." The sportswear brand has won almost 1 million new consumers during the Singles Day shopping festival this year (from Oct 1 to Nov 11). From Jan 1 to Nov 30, the brand achieved 24 percent growth year-on-year in terms of new consumer/patron acquisitions. Besides shoppers who bought Converse products, they included people who joined the brand's social media accounts and other comparable online groups like fans. Jung said despite the heavy impact of COVID-19 on the sportswear industry, the long-term prospects in China remain bright. "I think the Chinese market is a great place because of the power of Chinese youth, their vision and optimism," he said. Financial results of Nike Inc's first quarter ending Aug 31 showed sales, including that of Converse, in the Chinese market increased by 8 percent, led by digital and Nike Factory Stores. For Converse, the first quarter realized $563 million in global revenue, up 2 percent year-on-year, mainly driven by strong demand in Europe and on digital channels globally. Hao Shuai, apparel analyst at Guotai Junan Securities, said stronger health awareness among the public in the wake of the pandemic and the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in 2021 and the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, will likely result in explosive growth of the sportswear industry in the next two years. Over the past couple of years, the Chinese market has served as a really important growth market for Converse, with a lot of untapped potential for the brand in China, said Jung. The sportswear market is considered by Jung the most competitive market in the world-"a healthy marketplace for global brands with an incredible level of competition among local brands". According to Euromonitor International, 2019 sportswear market revenue in China reached 316.6 billion yuan ($48.2 billion), up 17 percent year-on-year. It is forecast to reach 542.6 billion yuan by 2024.