Looking for a good fit
Updated: 2013-03-29 07:16
By Lv Chang and Yao Jing (China Daily)
Angry birds and children are key components in a marketing strategy. Provided to China Daily
Finnish outdoor clothing maker Reima takes the alliance route for growth in China
The North European outdoor clothing company Reima has set its sights on the growing outdoor apparel market in China and is looking for growth through alliances and partnerships.
To begin with, the Helsinki company is teaming up with other Finnish companies such as Rovio Entertainment, creator of the popular online game Angry Birds, Rovio and Lappset, a company that makes outdoor facilities for children, to explore opportunities in growing outdoor sports market in China.
"We are coming together to synergize business opportunities in China," says Brian Bunker, director of the Reima China Supervisory Board. "It is a strategic cooperation involving a new Angry Birds theme park, clothing range and playing equipment."
Bunker says there will be a Reima test area in the theme park, where children are allowed to try on the new clothing range and experience the joy of outdoor sports equipment. Though the present alliance is for play parks in China, the company will soon launch an "Angry Birds" collection for children globally.
The Finnish company has performed well despite the global economic downturn. Its total turnover increased from 39 million euros (pls check currency) in 2009 to 58 million euros in 2011.
Though the adult outdoor clothing market is dominated by US brands like Columbia and North Face, Reima plans to score in the children's segment by capitalizing on the immense popularity of the 'Angry Birds' franchise.
Bunker says that given the size of the population in China and the growing purchasing power of the middle class, there is still tremendous potential in the Chinese outdoor sportswear market.
Part of the reason why companies are looking to the children's market also lies in its rapid growth rate and size along with constant demand for new products.
According to estimates provided by The China National Garment Association, the children's wear market in China was worth about 100 billion yuan ($15.88 billion; 13 billion euros) last year, with an estimated annual sales of 5 billion units this year.
Though the market for children's wear is already crowded with several major players, companies like Reima hope to make a mark by connecting with parents' desire to spend on their children.
"The Chinese market for kids' clothing has never lacked competition. There is constant churn and it is difficult to say if there are any clear leaders among the outdoor kids clothing brands.
"The best part of China is that being a nation where most families have only single children, parents consider kids' well-being as a priority. We think we have a lot to add to the kids' experience in terms of functional and safe clothing, another factor that would motivate parents to encourage their children to spend more time outdoors."
Though Reima is still a relatively small player focused largely on the Finnish and Russian markets, the company has made big moves recently to expand globally.
Last year, Reima entered the Chinese market with two stores in Beijing and is looking to expand into China's northeast with 15 to 20 stores in the next few years.
"We will start from Beijing and then expand to Dalian, Changchun, Shenyang and Harbin, the coldest cities in China," he says.
Reima has outdoor collections for children for all seasons, but is specially known for its winter clothing. With a price tag up to 2,680 yuan, Bunker says the company's target is mostly children aged between 1 and 12 in the middle class and well-to-do families, who have passion for outdoor activities.
"All clothing is waterproof and breathable, so children can stay warm in the winter without sweating in their heavy jackets," he says. "Some jackets also have removable fleece linings to suit any season."
Whether parents are willing to pay more than 1,000 yuan for a piece of children's outdoor clothing is unclear, but Bunker thinks China is ready for expensive products.
"I think in a country where people spend 3,000 yuan on a pair of jeans, consumers will have no problem in buying a high-quality but relatively expensive jacket for their kids."
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(China Daily 03/29/2013 page11)