Great article over at Slate, entitled, Female Weightlifters, Spanish Basketball Stars, and Kim Jong-il: The strange world of Chinese sneaker endorsements. It is on the strange and evolving world of athletic shoes and endorsements in China and it concludes by saying that “for Nike and Adidas, those may be lessons their Chinese competitors are learning all too well,” but I think this article has much to teach about China, China business, and, of course, the shoes.
The Timberland Company, probably better known as Timberland Shoes, just announced plans to open 70 retail stores in China within the next five years [link no longer exists]. I previously blogged on China’s booming retail market in a post entitled, “China is Booming — Go There for Growth, Part III, Retail Works Just Fine,” and Timberland’s entry is part of that trend. Timberland is already doing much of its manufacturing in China and I am guessing at least some of the inventory in its China outlets will be China-produced goods.
Timberland’s entry into China is interesting because over the last few weeks Timberland and other Western shoe companies (including Adidas, Rockport, Puma and Clarks) have been fighting against an EU proposal to slap anti-dumping duties on Chinese shoes. I see all of this as further evidencing the blurring of national lines in the business world. I previously addressed this blurring of national lines in the post, “Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics and Making Lots of Money in China.” Suffice it to say, large companies like Timberland are called multinationals for a reason and as these large companies continue their entries into China, trade disputes between the United States and China will more and more be driven by politics not business.