Why Nike Sales are Slipping China

Old_Nike_logoNike retail sales have been dropping for the past three quarters in China, and executives at the company predict similar declines for the next two quarters. Investors claim not to be worried about the decline in earnings, but this did not stop Nike from replacing its top Chinese executive last May. Several other management positions in its Chinese division have been replaced, and Charlie Denson, Nike’s second in command, retired on July 1st after almost 35 years with the company.

Last September, Nike blamed the initial slowdown on rising input costs, not on weaker economic conditions. Today, Nike’s best-selling lines of sports clothing, which had dominated the Chinese market for years, is being beaten out by its major competitors, Adidas and Hennes and Mauritz. The cheaper, hipper street wear of these other companies has left Nike wading through unsold inventory.

Analysts tend to agree that Nike’s image and clothing style does not meet the sophistication and proper fit for the nation’s shoppers. According to an analyst for Canaccord Financial Inc., Camilo Lyon, you have to be a “smarter retailer now.” Consumers are more “educated and global and sold to a lot more. Everybody is forced to become sharper.”

Nike executives had explained away the low retail sales by blaming the slow economy and shifting consumer interests. They maintained that their strategy is the right one to capitalize on the Chinese economy. Since 1982, when they entered the Chinese market, Nike became the best-selling sportswear by advocating a sports-centric achievement model. They sponsored sports leagues and athletes. They promoted heavily at the 2008 Olympics, which helped almost double sales to $2 billion by 2011.

Since last summer, however, Chinese inventory began piling up and retail sales began declining. The major hurdles on the back end are higher costs for materials and labor, which are mostly in China. The company has been trimming its supply chain and increasing costs to meet this challenge, and last year it sold off the lagging brands Cole Haan and Umbro.

Nike recently began to look at the bigger picture. When the demand for Nike’s brand image was so strong, specific consumer tastes didn’t matter as much, according to an analyst for Cowen & Co. Now, however, customers demand a tighter fit, and, the analyst continues, Nike has “realized there’s room for improvement.”

Adidas has been outselling Nike with cheaper, more fashionable sportswear, such as their youth-directed line of clothing NEO. China has become NEO’s biggest market. The success of this combination of fashion and sports indicates Adidas has a better understanding of the Chinese customer’s needs. The underlying impression is that hard-core sports has fallen out of favor, since Nike’s sportswear is being outsold by clothing lines that cater to lifestyle and fashion. In China, these concepts tend to win out over Nike’s sports-centric achievement message that anyone can aspire to great things. Academics and work ethic have become more important to the Chinese parents and the consumer culture.

Several analysts still recommend buying or holding Nike stock, despite the recent slump in retail sales. Nike’s overhaul of its Chinese management team and its recent efforts to remake and upgrade its merchandise suggest a potential rebound. Donald Blair, Nike’s CFO, said that sales are already growing at Nike’s largest retailers. “We still have a lot of work to do,” Blair said.

Some analysts advise a neutral position. Though Nike’s North America ratings remain strong, the Chinese market continues to pose challenges. Things are showing signs of improvement, but China’s retail sales may not turn around any time soon.

Why Education is So Important for Women to be Successful

Schoolgirl_Pune_IndiaThroughout history, women have been portrayed from mild-mannered to clueless to strong and smart. However, with many women still making less than their male counterparts, education has become much more important for a woman to be successful in today’s world. When looking at a higher education degree online, knowledge is the key to success. 

Income

For most women to be successful, their education needs to let them make as much money as possible. A good salary is tied in with so many aspects of success in today’s world, from buying the latest designer clothing to living in the biggest house in the neighborhood. Earning a high income lets women be successful in all this and more.

Raising Children

Success in educational endeavors continues to be important to women raising children. Not only does it show women as positive role models, it also teaches kids to never give up and be disciplined and self-motivated in their own educations. Education throughout the ages has provided such women as Madam Curie and others, demonstrating that women play perhaps the most important role in how children view education.

Career Options

Obtaining an education gives women choices in life. Looking at a Masters in Education Degree resource, women are able to choose how they live rather than having to rely on men to support them. Sometimes it’s the other way around, with men having to rely on women to help them financially. Now there’s a switch that would make all the early supporters of equal rights very happy.

Self-Confidence

This is perhaps the most important reason education is so vital for women to be successful. Having confidence in one’s abilities is key to success in all aspects of life, be it relationships, raising kids, job success or more. While we have all met folks who could use perhaps a bit less self-confidence in their lives, having a healthy level of self-confidence and self-esteem can help women go far in achieving their goals both personally and professionally. After all, years ago people laughed when a young girl would say she wanted to grow up and be President of the United States. As we now know, that is not only possible but also quite likely in the years to come.

Gender Equality

As more women become the primary breadwinners in families, they prove to be the difference between families living comfortably or living in poverty. Without educated women, more families than ever before would be struggling financially.

The Disparity of Women in STEM Jobs

gender disparity STEMWe like to pretend that gender inequality in the work place is only an issue that the cast of Mad Men have to deal with. While things have gotten much better since the 1950s, there is still a long way to go – especially in certain industries. STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are home to the fasted growing job markets in the world, and women are getting left in the dust when it comes to filling these positions. Personally, I don’t think this is an issue within the STEM industries, but an issue with gender roles that starts at an early age.

Media Portrayal of Women and Men

It’s old hat by this point, but media plays a profound role in how people view each other as well as themselves. Studies have shown that everyone is biased, even if they think they are well rounded. When it comes to race, people across the board struggle to associate minorities with good traits; when gender gets studied, people (including women) have a hard time associating success with women.  So let’s apply this to STEM jobs.

The only strong female character that embodies that geeky persona (that I can think of) is Abby from NCIS, and even she is still somewhat of a goth sexpot. The stereotype has shifted from weak rolled women, to powerful and successful women characters like Mackenzie Allen in Commander in Chief, Sydney Bristow in Alias, and Max Guevara in Dark Angel just to name a few. These strong female leads are then paired up with their token male nerds who are never lacking glasses, collared shirts, and the occasional sweater vest. Even the “sexiest man alive,” Bradley Cooper, played this stereotype in Alias with his character Will Tippen.

This stigma of putting women in powerful roles and men in the nerdy ones has had real world consequences. There are more women than ever going to law schools and climbing the corporate ladders in managerial positions, but there is a stagnant number going into STEM jobs.

Breaking Down the Numbers

The U.S. Department of Commerce released this study in 2009 that documents the growth in STEM jobs over nine years and compares genders. You can see the numbers broken down in this table…

As you can see by looking at the percent of female workers in each area of STEM jobs, the growth was negligible, stagnant, or even reversed. This goes against other trends such as women accounting for half of the work force and making up for the majority of college graduates. Even so, with women making up the majority of college graduates, women only make up 20% of the computer science degrees. While you don’t need a computer science degree to go into a STEM job, this disparity mirrors the one in the job market and it highlights the bigger problem referenced above. There are simply very few women, comparatively, actively looking for STEM jobs.

It’s not a matter of consciously sexist employers throughout the industry, there are just no women applying for the positions that are becoming available. For this to change, we need to see a shift in how society views the nerds among us. More girls need to go to hacker camps and be shown that it’s okay for girls to be computer nerds to.

Thomas McMahon majored in Creative Writing, but managed to get a job in the STEM industry anyway with Page One Power, a link building company that also offers link building training.