SHANGHAI: Adidas, the sportswear manufacturer, has reported a significant increase in sales of women's products in China following a recent campaign which targeted that particular demographic for the first time.

"For a single market in a non-event year, to run a completely localised, publicly televised campaign just for women, is a big step for the brand," Jens Meyer, vice president of marketing for sport performance at Adidas Group Greater China, told Campaign Asia-Pacific.

Moving away from the brand's usual practice of running global TV spots has proved successful, as the share of sales from women's products has increased 40% over the past three months.

"Sales of our men's products didn't decrease and women's sales increased," noted Meyer, "so the share of business is now more balanced between men's and women's lines."

The local Chinese campaign forms part of a wider effort to attract female consumers. Earlier this year, the brand noted: "We are making a concerted effort to create engaging content and experiences that are tailored to women from the outset, designed to reach girls in the environment they already inhabit online and provide them with increased opportunities to interact with our brand."

But what works in the West does not necessarily do so with Chinese consumers and Meyer observed that the "image transfer" typically utilised with male consumers did not resonate with women.

"Here in China, females are alienated with ads that are too masculine-leaning," he said.

The brand's research established that fitness for them was less about working out than about a chance to socialise.

In addition, images of sweating women were off-putting. Meyer explained: "They tell us: I want to see a beautiful woman. If she's in sports clothing, I know that she has done sports. Show me the results, don't show me the tortuous journey."

Sports participation in China is generally low but is increasing as the country becomes more wealthy, with sports retailers expanding across the country.

French sports goods retailer Decathlon, for example, is opening a new 5,000 square metre store in Zhengzhou and plans 30 more across Henan province alone.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific, China Retail News; additional content by Warc staff