As a leading fashion sportswear in China, the Group successfully differentiated itself through its unique, well-tested dual-marketing strategy that incorporates sports and entertainment elements. This strategy has consequently helped make XTEP synonymous with trendiness, sports and an active, healthy lifestyle among wide swathes of the general public. The Group’s leading market position has been further strengthened as it has been actively implementing its sports marketing strategy with a focus on marathons/running events and football games, leveraging their rising popularity over the years.
Adhering XTEP’s “Love Running, Love Xtep” brand manifesto, RUNNING has always been a key-focused sports category in the Group’s sports marketing and product development process. Over the years, the Group has sponsored numerous major internationally recognized marathons as well as prominent running events hosted in the PRC and Hong Kong. Such sports marketing initiative of reinforcing brand awareness of XTEP and strengthening the tie between XTEP and marathons/running events, and hence sports enthusiasts in the mass market, has proven successful. For example, XTEP has been the sole official apparel sponsor for the Xiamen International Marathon (a Gold Label Road Race recognized by IAAF) for the sixth consecutive year (2009–2014) and for the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon (a Silver Label Road Race recognized by IAAF) for the fourth year running (2011–2014). The number of marathons/long-distance running events has increased rapidly during the past few years, from about 13 marathons in 2010 to about 50 marathons in 2014. In 2014, the Group has sponsored almost one third of the total races hosted in the PRC and Hong Kong.
The Group has further strengthened its bond with runners of all types through setting up the Xtep Runners Club in 2012. The 15,000 registered members nationwide are provided with regular updates on training, as well as reminders of upcoming running events across Greater China.
With its increasing popularity in China, the Group has continued to strengthen its association with the sport of football. It has been the fifth year for XTEP to be the title sponsor of the only two national-grade campus football leagues in China, namely, XTEP China University Football League (特步中國大學生足球聯賽, “XTEP CUFL”) and the XTEP China College Futsal League (特步中國大學生五人制足球聯賽, “XTEP CCFL”). The Group also endorses a number of foreign and domestic football clubs, including Villarreal C.F. in the Spanish La Liga, Hong Kong Standard Rangers FC in the Hong Kong First Division League and China All Star Football Team and Hong Kong All Star Sports Association. These sponsorships have extensively expanded the brand exposure and credibility of XTEP in China as well as in overseas, paving the way for the Group’s future business growth.
Not content to be confined by conventionality, the Group is also increasing its presence in other sports that are growing in popularity. XTEP has been the sole official sportswear partner of the China National Games held every four years since 2005 for three consecutive times. Meanwhile, from 2011-2014, XTEP has been named the core strategic partner and the sole equipment sponsor for the Tour of Taihu Lake International Cycling Race, promoting a healthy and green lifestyle while allowing the brand to penetrate the professional cycling community. Besides, the Group has entered into an apparel sponsorship agreement with The Hockey Club from ’s-Hertogenbosch, a.k.a. HC Den Bosch, in the Netherlands in 2014 to provide apparel to both the men’s and women’s squads, and is also responsible for developing the club members’ kit.