One in a Billion – Adidas aims for a new China market

branding china

Interesting times for brands as the Chinese market evolves.

Global sports brand adidas have launched a new and noteworthy ad campaign aimed at the Chinese market. The last two decades are choc-a-block with beautifully shot, inspiringly heart-racing ads from all of the brands in this category. But what caught my attention was the single minded insight driving this new campaign, and kudos to Adidas for identifying the opportunity and running with it.

For most brands, the view of China is a homogenized one, where consumers are segmented into middle-to-upperclass (those who can afford to buy from the Western brands) and the rest. A lack of clarity and insight sees most brands take a stereotypical and simplified approach to marketing. But within China the huge middle class is continuing to evolve and explore who they are and how they see themselves in new and different ways. One of those interesting themes is ‘Individualism’ – a concept at complete odds with decades of communism. And as we have seen in western markets over the last 50 years, consumerism and brands are a popular and powerful way for people to express their individuality.

The insight of  ‘Individualism’ taps into a powerful emerging consumer desire in China of ‘freedom.’ Online branding site brandchannel first identified this movement of freedom through consumption back in 2013, when they looked at brands from Harley-Davidson, Volvo and Chinese smartphone brand Oppo crafting brand messages that included the term 自由 (zìyóu), or “freedom.”

While the campaign is called “One in a Billion,” the Chinese tagline for the message “我是亿万里挑一” is closer to “I am One in a Billion.” The campaign stars gold medal-winning Team China swimmer Ning Zetao, women’s volleyball Team China captain Hui Ruoqi and China Football Ambassador David Beckham.

This movement is part of a larger shift away from established, reliable brands towards a balance of wanting emotional, personal brand attachment. Other recent adidas campaigns in China include messaging such as “自由行 乐无沿” which roughly translates to “Freestyle. Happiness without Following.”

chinese market branding

For brands looking to launch or grow in the Chinese market, this example from adidas shows the potential for tapping into the new consumer movement of Individuality, but more broadly it suggests great opportunity exists for brand who are prepared and able to identify similar emerging consumer trends of their own to tap into.

Dave Ansett
David is the founder of Truly Deeply, a brand agency with 25 years experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in the creation of high engagement brands that attract the attention of their audience and stand out from their competitors. David has extensive experience working with corporate, retail, food & beverage and entrepreneurial clients. Find out more at…
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