Li Ning carries the olympic torch while descending from the rafters at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games’ opening ceremony in Beijing, China.
Basketball in China is growing at a rapid speed, Chinese sports apparel company Li Ning is keeping up to the pace.
Founded in 1990 by three time Chinese gold medalist Li Ning, the company has established itself, making $1 billion in revenue per year. It’s already made a tremendous impact in the asian market, and plans to take the west by storm.
Li Ning’s global popularity skyrocketed after a “gorilla marketing” tactic at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Li Ning (the athlete), in front of millions of viewers, lit the torch at the opening ceremony. Ning also sponsored the broadcasters outfits and painted his logo all over the games.
In professional sports, it’s not easy to spot out the athlete not supporting Nike or Adidas, but those athletes do exist. Li Ning is no stranger to the pro sports scene.
Li Ning’s first big name acquisition was one of the “biggest” athletes in the world, Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq signed a deal with Li Ning in 2006 and finished his career with the company. Since then, Li Ning have added NBA stars such as Baron Davis, Hasheem Thabeet, Damon Jones, Metta World Peace, Evan Turner, Jose Calderon and their biggest name of yet Dwayne Wade.
Note the “W” at the tongue of Dwayne Wade’s signature Li Ning basketball shoe.
This past week, Wade signed a reported 10-year $10 million contract with an undisclosed amount of shares in Li Ning’s company. Wade will hope that the third time is the charm after dropping Converse and Jordan, he will become the Chief Brand Officer of Li Ning’s North American operation.
Li Ning is definitly a company that you want to pay close attention to in the future. It currently stand no where near the 95 per cent of Nike’s basketball market, or the $24 billion a year revenue compared to Li Ning’s $1.4 billion, but Li Ning will continue to rise in the years to come.
Nick Bedard (@bedardnick) is the editor-in-chief of Basketballbuddha.com.