Li Ning, the Chinese sportswear and equipment brand, is setting records in India for non-cricket sports sponsorship, with top badminton players Kidambi Srikanth and PV Sindhu having picked up major endorsement deals recently.

Srikanth’s deal is worth a reported Rs 35 crore over four years while Sindhu’s is said to be close to that struck between Puma and cricketer Virat Kohli (worth an estimated Rs 100 crore over eight years). And this is just a small part of the brand’s planned marketing spend of up to Rs 600 crore ($84m) in India over the next two years, according to Afaqs!

“For Li Ning, India is the second biggest market after China and in the next six months we are going to come into India in a big way,” Mahender Kapoor, director, Sunlight Sports, Li Ning’s distribution partner in India, told the publication.

The two-year marketing blitz is not Li Ning’s first foray into India. It has already signed a multi-year deal with the Indian Olympic Association, and sponsored the Indian team in the 2016 Olympic games, plus the team for the Commonwealth Games last year and the Jakarta Asian Games.

But the brand now wants to move far beyond badminton equipment, which currently accounts for around 90% of its sales in India and where it claims a 15% share of the market.

“In India, our aggressive push at this stage is on badminton and soon we will compete with Nike and Adidas in the sportswear category too,” Kapoor stated. Within two years, Li Ning is aiming to become established as a leading sportswear brand in the country, with just 10% of its revenue coming from badminton equipment.

“The rest of our offerings, like running shoes, etc. are only selling on Amazon as we are testing the waters to understand consumer demand and the opportunities in the market,” he added.

The sportswear market is currently led by Reebok, Adidas, Nike, and Puma, with Skechers one of the fastest-growing brands.

“It is a segment where everyone is trying different things and nobody has really cracked it,” he said. “Skechers have done very well and can emerge as the market leader soon; we too will follow a similar strategy in India. Our plan is to provide comfort at a good price,” he added.

Sourced from Afaqs!; additional content by WARC staff