SHANGHAI: Adidas, the sportswear brand, is turning its attention to the children's market in China which it expects will be a "big growth driver" over the next five years, a leading executive has said.

The children's sector has not played a significant role for Adidas in recent years as it has focused on its Route 2015 strategy, which was based on key product categories such as football, running and basketball.

But with that strategy coming to a conclusion – and Colin Currie, managing director of Adidas Group Greater China, reporting that the objectives had been met and that Adidas was once again a leading sports brand in the country – it is now looking ahead to 2020.

"Essentially it's an evolution of our 2015 plan – it's not a revolution," Currie told CKGSB Knowledge.

"We're evolving our strategy to be much more focused on the segments we believe will grow ... and one of them is kids".

He outlined the brand's two-tier approach to sponsorship, one of which involves investing in sport at the grassroots level.

"The government is investing heavily in sport – RMB 1 trillion ($157bn) by 2025 – and really driving that kids are given an opportunity to do sport as part of their curriculum," Currie noted, a development that no sports brand can afford to ignore.

Accordingly, Adidas has partnered with the Ministry of Education. "We will reach 20,000 schools and give kids the opportunity to play football," he said. The program includes a free app that delivers virtual football coaching.

"This is for us to connect with kids for the future," Currie explained. "But [it's] also about us giving back to the community."

More generally, Adidas has previously identified Shanghai as one of the six influential global cities that will shape the perceptions of brands that then spread around the world.

Currie described Shanghai as a "window to the rest of China" and as "our model city" where brand positioning and distribution is planned before being scaled to the next set of cities.

"Strategy in the end for us in China would be 'how do we own these top 23 cities through distribution, through brand activation and through really connecting to consumers'," he said.

Data sourced from CKGSB Knowledge; additional content by Warc staff