Nike’s Angela Dong on China’s lockdown and taking the sport to new levels – Footwear News

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In our May issue “Women in Power”, six of Nike’s pioneering executives at the center of the brand’s ambitious strategy sat down with FN for exclusive interviews to discuss their unique career journeys, from Nike’s 50th anniversary and to light the way for the next generation.

To understand Nike’s potential in China, Angela Dong offers this startling statistic: more than 200 million members of Generation Alpha – that is, children born since 2010 – participate in sports in the massive market daily.

“Young people are more active than ever,” said the Vice President/General Manager of Greater China. “More and more of them are adopting sport as a way of life. We are really excited to see a big momentum around health and fitness, especially after the pandemic outbreak. Greater China has an important lead.

The executive is firmly looking to the future, even as lockdowns in Shanghai and other key areas once again put the country at the center of COVID challenges.

Nike acknowledged that its business guidance for the fiscal fourth quarter remains buoyant. A small number of stores in Shanghai, Suzhou and Xi’an remain closed – and in the rest of China the company is focusing on conversion rather than in-store traffic.

Online, the team is fueling business through experiences, content and livestreams across its e-commerce platforms – all elements of its 2020 Pandemic Playbook for the whole of Europe. business.

For Dong, the biggest priority is his team. “We put our people at the center of everything we do, just like we did in 2020,” she said. At a time when most activity in Shanghai has come to a standstill, Nike has delivered three care packages to every Shanghai-based employee – including office and retail staff – since the new lockdowns were put in place. “It shows the power of our logistics and operations, and demonstrates how committed we are to taking care of our teams,” said Dong, who got his start at Procter & Gamble before moving to Nike in 2005. .

Of his early career, Dong recalls, “It was an amazing learning experience at the biggest multinational company. In this role, I went from a student to a professional manager. It not only provided me with a global perspective and a holistic view of business, but also helped me learn how to work and collaborate with people from different cultures and backgrounds.

Like Proctor & Gamble, Nike has a long history in the market. And China is essential to the long-term growth strategy.

But the road hasn’t been easy: In addition to pandemic-related challenges and supply chain issues, Nike (and several other big brands, from H&M to Adidas) have faced backlash in China. last year on their stance against the use of cotton from Xinjiang due to alleged forced labor in the region.

Still, the market is showing signs of recovery: Greater China generated $2 billion in revenue in the third quarter alone. Although this was an 8% decline from the prior year’s results on a currency neutral basis, it was better than analysts expected and gave them reassurance that the tide had started spinning.

Through all the ups and downs, Dong has been a constant innovator.

“Since our opening in 1981, our relationship with our communities has been unbreakable. But we don’t take that for granted. We know we need a more disruptive set of strategies,” she said.

It starts with forging strong bonds with the youth demographic that will be key to Nike’s future success. “Personally, I always feel inspired to work with Gen Z and young people. They cherish diversity and inclusiveness. They pride themselves on being authentic themselves. They’re bold, they’re eager to do more and they always want to try something new,” Dong said.

Case in point: street dancing is the fastest growing sport for Gen Z, according to Dong. There are now 10,000 registered street dance studios in Greater China, and 20 billion people watched Season 3 of the reality show “Street Dance of China” in October 2020. “This generation will continuously broaden the definition of sports,” she said.

With this in mind, the executive said providing locally relevant products is a key way to reach younger generations. “They are citizens of the world, but they are also proud of their heritage and their communities,” Dong said. Nike also connects with its Chinese consumers through its Nike membership program on Alibaba’s Tmall platform. For example, during the Singles Day shopping period last November, Nike added 13 million new members and was again the top sports brand on the platform.

Apart from this powerful partnership, the team is also fueling growth through the Nike app and SNKRS. “Our consumers are engaged through social platforms, live streams, e-commerce and digital stores,” Dong said. “They demand the connected experience.”

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