Nike is making waves in long-distance running with its advanced VaporFly concept. Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge broke the two-hour marathon barrier with a time of 1:59:40 in a specially-tailored event in Vienna, Austria on Saturday, a day before Kenyan Brigid Kosegi broke a 16-year record at the Chicago Marathon (2:14.04) in a women’s version of Nike’s new NEXT% marathon shoe. The marathon time for Kipchoge, which won’t count as an official record due to the nature of the event, came more than 40 months after he first tested the Nike Zoom VaporFly Elite in Jan. 2016. While the Swoosh hasn’t yet detailed its strategy, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics just nine months away, it’s a good bet here that the marathon records are the starting line for the brand to breathe new life and interest in the performance running category worldwide in 2020 and beyond. At nearly $4.49 billion, Nike’s wholesale running sales were flat in FY19 ended May 31, 2019.
On the China front, President Trump announced a “phase one” trade agreement with the country on Friday that reportedly addresses intellectual property issues and the purchase of agricultural goods from the U.S., but the biggest news out of the market last week was a NBA-China spat that emerged from a NBA executive’s tweet. It came less than two months after China hosted the basketball World Cup and could potentially dampen the league’s half-a-billion business in China and hamper the growth of basketball licensed apparel and shoe sales of various brands in the market, including Nike and Adidas.