US sportswear maker Nike is testing market potential of Chinese cities beyond Beijing and Shanghai utilizing “localization” as a strategy that will help the brand better present itself to the whole world, China Daily reported.

Recently it opened Nike Jordan, its basketball brand’s flagship shop, in Xiamen — the first Jordan shop in Fujian province.

Dong Wei, vice-president of Nike Inc., said the decision to set up the store in Xiamen was shaped by the city’s stature as the economic and cultural center of Fujian that can support the growth of a mature sportswear industry.

“Xiamen boasts a mature commercial environment,” said Dong. “As a relatively small city, it has over 80 million tourists coming from the whole world. Plus, there are many local sports brands in Xiamen, building a solid foundation in business environment for sports brands.”

As for Nike Jordan’s business blueprint in China, she said first-tier cities like Shanghai and Beijing were merely a beginning. The brand is looking to expand into more second-tier cities to “get in touch with more consumers.”

By now, young Chinese consumers have gotten used to e-commerce and are able to buy goods basically from any city online. Hence, offline shops no longer limit themselves to selling products. They also provide customized service and experiences of the basketball culture, which are new growth points for brick-and-mortar stores, Dong said.

China has proved to be the fastest-growing market where Jordan has achieved double-digit growth, according to the company’s 2018-19 financial report.

Eric So, general manager of Jordan China, said the brand will accelerate its pace of opening more shops in China, in line with its rapid development in the Chinese market so far.

Dong said through localization in the Chinese market, Nike will draw inspiration to develop a stronger and competitive edge in the global market, the report said.

“Since the earlier ’80s, we have been building close relations with Chinese consumers, no matter if they are athletes or sports lovers,” she said. “Localization is bringing more contributions to the product design aspects. As the company has gained more inspiration from Chinese elements, it can bring better products to global consumers.”

China’s growing sneaker market in cities beyond metros has attracted the attention of other brands too. In May, Sneaker Con, one of the biggest sneaker exhibitions of the world, was held in Shanghai for the first time. More than 20,000 visitors made it to the three-day event.