China‘s interest in extreme sports started in 2004 with the creation of the National Association of Extreme Sports, and in 2007 with the arrival in Shanghai of the first extreme sports competition held on the Chinese territory, the Kia X Games Asia.
Here are a few consequences of this:
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- Sports supplements are not just for Bodybuilders and high-level athletes anymore. The fitness lifestyle is expanding.
- Fitness and Sports industry to reach $786 billion USD in 2025 in China.
- The growth rate of +42% in 2018 making Sports nutrition the fastest growing niche market in the industry.
The extreme sports market in China
The Government has supervised from the beginning the development of these new sports on the territory. As China never does things by halves, it had already built the largest skateboarding ramp in the world in 2005.
Since then, events around extreme sport have followed one another in all corners of the country. The International Extreme Sports Festival (FISE) in 2015 in Chengdu; the FB-Festival for his 4×4 rally in Inner Mongolia; the surf competition on the Qiantang River; an air motocross demonstration on the Shanghai Bund and even the kayak race at Nujiang Canyon.
The extreme sports market in China is gaining favor in the capital and experts believe the industry will mature quickly. Although it started late, the domestic extreme sports market is on the right track. According to a report published by the Gasc, the General Administration of Sports of China, the fitness and sports market has grown in 2019, a period that is certainly not favorable from an economic and financial point of view, by 8.5%.
In 2018, the market size of the sports industry in China reached 2.4 trillion yuan. The sports industry in China maintained steady growth over the past seven years and accounted for one percent of the whole gross domestic product (GDP).
A remarkable fact that testifies an important change from the past: before the Olympics appeared on the horizon, in fact, Beijing could count on just two fitness clubs of Western “inspiration”.
What are the popular extreme sports in China?
Any sports with a strong adrenaline rush practiced outdoors, which a form of danger can be considered an extreme sport. These may be classic sports whose practice is extreme in terms of complexity and physical effort→ Parachuting, motocross, rally, mountain biking, skateboarding, paragliding, marathon, BMX, rollerblading, climbing, hang gliding, bungee jumping, wingsuit, base jump, parkour, skiing, snowboarding, kite surfing, jet boarding, scuba diving, surfing, water skiing, rafting, windsurfing, high-level diving, underwater hockey.
Why are extreme sports so popular in China?
It turns out that China has ideal terrain for extreme sports. The mountains of Tibet for hiking to Everest, the island of Hainan with its tropical climate are very famous for surfing, the cliffs of Yangshuo for Rock climbing, Hebei Province for its ski resorts by minus 20 degrees all year round in winter, or even scuba diving at Qiandao Lake.
China has discovered many natural terrains for the practice of all extreme sports in the four corners of the country: an economic vein of choice both to attract tourists and foreign sportsmen in the territory, but also to develop national practices.
Urban areas are not left out: Chinese and foreign entrepreneurs have seized the opportunity by proposing parachute jumping in metropolises like Beijing and Macao, an activity that is still limited by the government.
A change in Chinese people’s mentality led to the spread of extreme sports
Young urban Chinese are proving more and more to be thrill-seekers. The arrival of these adrenaline sports was mainly guided by American soft power.
Chinese society has undergone a strong evolution. Recreational sports were previously reserved only for the well-to-do classes, who alone had the financial means to buy the right equipment. Now the Chinese middle class also has access to them thanks to their increasing purchasing power.
Also, the priorities of Chinese citizens have evolved. Previously, work and family life took precedence over any distraction. Everyone’s goal was the enrichment and the acquisition of property: all the wealth of the family was focused on the future of the only child.
These generations of unique children have now reached their twenties or thirties. They have now become adults and they are easily influenced by Western culture. They think more about leisure and aspire to have a way of life detached from the social constraints of their elders. In this context, normal sports and extreme sports find their place.
Moreover, the inhabitants of Taiwan and Macao, which are more familiar with Western cultures, are even more interested and addicted.
Big opportunities for dietary supplements as a consequence of the diffusion of extreme sports
The practice of extreme sports in China lead to the business of food supplements like energy drinks, proteins, and cereal bars. The nutritional supplement market in China is expected to reach US$ 40 billion by 2023.
Compared with the inconvenience of urban life (pollution, sedentary lifestyle, fast food, stress, tiredness) sport became for many Chinese people a way to find a balanced life.
Many people are changing their diet and are starting to take vitamins to improve their health, to fight tiredness, or to treat their skin. As everything goes quickly in China, also dietary supplements powder to promote the development of muscles or improve sports performance are quite widespread.
The Redbull brand understood China’s potential well and has been sponsoring numerous events around the extreme sport.
Its establishment in China has been very successful, many young Chinese prefer Redbull instead of drinking coffee to keep up the pace at work.
Sport tourism in China is booming
Which sector benefits the most from the rise of extreme sports and sport, in China? Tourism! Young Chinese tourists are more likely to go on a trip abroad to discover a new sport.
Due to the recent development of the recreational sport, China still lacks infrastructure. Considered the size of its population, it does not have infrastructure technical enough to support the progress of its hard-working practitioners.
Since local education is restricted to beginners, many Chinese are enthusiastic about going abroad, in search of more professionalism or to move to the next level of practice.
Chinese people make use of the major foreign brands of supplies: Nike, Adidas, Puma, or Decathlon for mass distribution, but also all technical equipment suppliers such as SMI Snowmakers, Prinoth, Elan, Fischer or Poma.
Sport tourism: a great opportunity for international travel agencies
Sports tourism represents a major opportunity for the Chinese outbound travel market in several ways. First, there is already a massive audience and fan base for several major sports in China, so as more of China’s population begins to travel abroad, there will be an increasing number of potential clients for travel agencies.
Traditional Chinese travel agencies and online travel agencies both offer many kinds of travel packages that include sporting events. For travel agencies, it is important to have new services to offer and to keep up-to-date.
New online travel agencies (OTA) are even organizing mountain bike sessions around rice terraces, taking precautions in order not to ruin the work of farmers.
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