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(EN) The ‘Guochao’ Trend in China

Updated: May 23

You can read the chinese version here

The apparel market in China is undergoing a significant transformation - the "Guochao" trend. While Nike currently dominates, the rise of ‘Guochao’—a trend favoring domestic brands that blend traditional Chinese culture with modern style—is reshaping consumer preferences, especially among Millennials and Generation Z. Diving deeper, the "Guochao" trend symbolizes that Gen Z consumers have grown up with cultural confidence, so when they shop, they pay more attention to the quality and price of the product itself rather than the brand's country of origin. Established in 2023, this movement is giving a new edge to local brands like Anta and Li Ning, presenting a formidable challenge to international giants.

models wearing chinese apparel

Nike's Stronghold in China

In the 2023 China Company Transformation Indicator (CCTI) by IMD, Nike emerged as the top performer among the leading 23 apparel companies in China, which include 13 foreign multinational corporations (MNCs) such as Lululemon. Nike's success is deeply rooted in its localized presence and strategic focus on Gen-Z consumers. By creating direct-to-consumer channels and seamlessly integrating digital and offline retail experiences, Nike has set a global benchmark for omnichannel engagement.

Nike's pre-COVID emphasis on digital strategy has paid off handsomely. Leveraging platforms like its official website, Tmall, the SNKRS app, and its WeChat Store, Nike has effectively engaged its audience, driving substantial digital sales. Despite its strong market position, the landscape is shifting.

The Ascendancy of Chinese Brands

The ‘Guochao’ trend has fueled the rise of Chinese brands like Anta and Li Ning. Anta has overtaken Nike in sales, becoming the first Chinese sportswear brand to lead the domestic market in over a decade. This success is attributed to its multi-brand strategy, including acquisitions of Fila, Descente, and Kolon Sport, which cater to diverse consumer preferences. Anta's extensive retail presence and strong digital channels have significantly boosted its revenue.

Li Ning, named after the legendary Chinese Olympian, has also thrived under the ‘Guochao’ trend. Initially, the brand's appeal was not immediately evident, but strategic marketing efforts, including participation in international events like New York Fashion Week, have repositioned Li Ning as a trendy, nationalistic label. This strategy has successfully attracted fashion-conscious Gen-Z consumers. While Li Ning's omnichannel strategy is still evolving, its ability to align with local consumer sentiments has proven effective.

The Future of the Market

Chinese consumers are becoming more sophisticated, evaluating quality and cost with increased scrutiny. Brands like Li Ning and Anta are meeting these demands by offering high-quality products at competitive prices. Although Nike's comprehensive omnichannel strategy and deep market roots have secured its current dominance, the growing preference for local brands driven by nationalistic sentiments and innovative marketing strategies poses a significant challenge.


The ‘Guochao’ trend is reshaping the Chinese apparel market. While Nike remains a strong leader, the rise of agile and innovative domestic brands is changing the competitive landscape. The future will likely see a more balanced market where understanding and adapting to local consumer preferences will be crucial for success. Nike's reign continues, but the game is evolving, and Chinese brands are gaining momentum.



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