Nickster says: “I walk around and every single Asian I see are rocking Nike SB’s. What’s up with that? I thought we would like something more Asian than skate shoes.”
For as long as Asians have been raising Peace Signs and racing Rice Rockets, they’ve been wearing Nike Shoes. How it it that this Pacific-Northwestern (with headquarters in Oregon) company was able to make its way into the hearts and desires of Asia? Could it be the unparalleled popularity of Air Jordan around the world in the 80s and 90s, or perhaps the resurgence of Kobe Bryant and Lebron James (after the Beijing Olympics) as household names? What about Yi, Yao, and Sun, all of which are NBA players?
The relationship between Asians and Nike goes back as far as 1966, when Nike was only a distributor of Japanese “Onitsuka Tiger” branded shoes. (Crazy, I know…) In 1972, it’s transformed from a distributor to a manufacturer of shoes, and needed the labor of a few people they found were able to make quality products but accept wages of about two dollars a day (and that’s with inflation). Where will you find a better place to find cheap labor? That’s right, in Asia.
In fact, Nike manufacturing plants have caused quite a stir in the past and even now. Encyclopedia.com reports: “Companies like Nike, which have paid major sports figures millions to promote their products, are now being accused of sourcing their manufacturing to Asian factories that pay workers as little a $2.50 a day to work up to 17-hour shifts.” Yale Global says, “In half of the company’s factories, for instance, workers were denied days off and access to toilets. Many workers were forced to toil over 60 hours a week, receiving less than the legally-sanctioned minimum wage.” While this isn’t a post about listing grievances, I just thought that it was interesting to remind us how good we have in America and more developed countries.
Getting back to why Asians find Nike so appealing, let’s look at the global impact of Nike: They are the official sportswear of Americans in the Olympics, which were held in a very large Asian country (or should I say sub-continent) last year. There, the best athletes were on display, and millions (and I mean millions) of Asian eyes were watching. It’s no mistake that China won so many medals during the 2008 Olympics. The doors have opened quite a bit to American influence, something no one could have even imagined back in the days of MJ.
In fact, China has its own “LBJ (Lebron James) Museum,” which sports photos of him from childhood, jerseys from high school, and peculiarly enough: a copy of his birth certificate.
Kobe Bryant toured Asian Countries in his “Supernatural” campaign. His jerseys outsell that of Lebron and China’s own Yao Ming in China.
Staple on a Gold medal for the United States team, and you realize the impact Nike has worldwide. It would seem that China can’t get enough U.S. superstars. So while Nike is something Asians (that work on sweatshops) hate, it is a brand that has become synonymous with sports all around the world. Kobe and Lebron are the new poster boys in the 21st century, and while self-image becomes increasingly important, people will flock more and more to name brands to raise their self-esteems and emulate their favorite athletes.
And let’s not forget This Week’s Travel Tip: The asking price for an item will most likely always be twice as much as they are willing to accept.
Here’s a story that proves it: “On a recent trip of mine to Vietnam, I saw something very peculiar in a sporting goods store window: It was a pair of Jordans for a little less than 510,000 dong (30 dollars USD). Continuing my search for cheaper shoes, I found myself in a little shop only a few blocks down, looking at the exact same pair but for half price. Having seen the previous pair for nearly twice as much (+15 whole US dollars), I bargained that pair down to about half of what that store owner said, and I got a pair of 120 dollar shoes for about 8 dollars.” -David
Nickster, thanks for your contribution!
Thanks for reading this week’s post,
Peter and the SAPL Family.
Here’s a Coca Cola Advertisement for Lebron and Yao Ming, where American and Chinese cultures are truly clashing:
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