For pro basketball fans everywhere, it comes as no news that last night was Kobe Bryant’s final game as a basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant has become a household name, not just in America, but globally. Kobe Bryant has ridden the larger wave of global basketball, with a particularly massive (and growing) fan following in China. Sports, and American culture of many varieties have become commoditized and are now consumed in massive quantities throughout the world.
In a particularly interesting example of the globalization of American culture, we can examine the basketball shoe market in China. In 2015, Nike set a record for sales in China at over $3 billion worth of basketball shoes. China and other growth nations are an increasingly important segment of the overall basketball shoe market, as more developed nations see sales cooling off. To confine the examination of the spread of American culture to basketball shoes would be a severe understatement, however. Hollywood for years has been turning out movies that overseas consumers flock to. There has been particular growth in the BRIC countries and Asia as a whole. As Americans attend fewer movies, and foreigners continue to flock to them, there will be an increase in movies that attract foreigner filmgoers, 3D and CGI filled according to a USA Today article from 2013. There are many industries where this is the case. Globalization of American creativity has been taking place for decades but has really exploded in the new millennium. It has been a financial boon to American producers and has provided the world with new avenues of entertainment that were not previously accessible to citizens of those countries.
One country in particular, however, seems to consume American culture more so then the rest of the world. This country is of course China. As we have seen in the past year or so, as China’s economic growth slows, industries and countries who were too dependent on the Chinese economy for growth have suffered serious setbacks. Another interesting potential headwind against further spreading and commoditizing of American culture in China is the shift to a consumer-led economy in China. It remains to be seen if this will be beneficial or detrimental to American entertainment industries, but it does raise the possibility of similar entertainment capabilities arising in China. Regardless of long term factor, America sells in the here and now.