The sports equipment market in China is booming and yoga is a “Super” market in China, with millions of practitioners. Yoga in China is a way to relieve stress, cultivate beauty and fitness and build communities. Given the spread of this practice, the opportunities for companies in this sector seem to be many, but how can you make the most of them?
The sportswear market in China
In 2018, the sportswear market in China was valued at $40.5 billion and will grow to $58.1 billion by 2023. According to Qianzhan Industry Research Institute, as of 2018, the absolute number of people exercising regularly hit 420 million, almost 32% of the Chinese population. The passion for sports and an increase in disposable income have led people’s attention to a wider range of physical activities. More and more people are not satisfied simply with running, football, but also participated in yoga, diving, and other specialized sports.
However, due to the Covid-19 many department stores were forced to temporarily shut down, new trends grew up on Chinese social media overcoming the economic and physical crisis. Lots of videos of people and especially KOL who taught physical exercises and promoted sportswear and equipment have gone viral on Chinese social platforms like Douyin and Xiaohongshu.
China’s yoga sector overview
Most Chinese yoga followers are female in the age group of 25-40, affluent, and living in big cities, however, it is spreading more and more across all age groups. Yoga is spreading more and more thanks to the growing middle class in China who are gradually becoming health conscious with an intention to lead an active and mindful lifestyle.
The practice, branded as an ancient, mysterious, and fashionable method of bodybuilding with good health effects, meets the needs of the masses in China with the intention of relaxing mind and body from the hectic daily life. It stresses the unity of body and mind, which echoes the harmonious philosophy of Chinese culture.
Social media have become very important in spreading this practice among the Chinese population, especially with the aim of teaching how to do yoga and avoid injuries.
Given the remarkable success of yoga practice in the Chinese market, many companies are cashing in to satisfy the growing demand of clothes and equipment related to yoga practice.
- Li-Ning, one of the premier Chinese sports brands, launched a yoga line and held yoga workshops with training centers.
- Lululemon Athletica, a Canadian Yogawear retailer, is operating 12 retail outlets across China and runs a store on Alibaba Tmall, China’s biggest e-commerce website for B2C online retail.
The sports clothes and sports shoe industry has seen several major brands fighting for market share in China. Nike and Adidas each claim 18%, followed by Anta with 7%, Li Ning 5%, and FILA 3% in 2018.
Why eCommerce is the best solution to sell yoga clothes and equipment in China?
In recent years, sports equipment brands have increasingly moved away from distributors by establishing direct online sales channels through their e-commerce sites or by opening official accounts on B2C e-commerce platforms such as Tmall and JD.
The reasons have been many such as:
- sport equipment requires direct feedback between brands and end consumers,
- the traditional distribution pyramid has not fully matured compared to western countries,
- the lack of branding and brand awareness
The benefits of e-commerce in China are:
- Offers companies the opportunity to experiment with new products and see the reaction of the Chinese market cutting down costs and margins of errors
- The ability to understand market needs and market demand
- E-commerce transcends the geographical and time limits
However, e-commerce in China could involve counterfeiting, so yoga clothes and equipment brands need to be careful and monitor electronic stores that are not entitled to sell their clothes and equipment.
Cross-border e-commerce platforms could be another interesting option
For brands that want to test the water before a full investment in China, cross-border e-commerce is a good option, as Chinese consumers often try to buy authentic, high-quality products from abroad through cross-border e-commerce.
How to reach Chinese consumers and create branding in China?
Although e-commerce is an excellent solution to sell your yoga products in China, without an adequate branding construction and an adequate marketing campaign on Chinese digital channels, you will not see your efforts on these sales platforms. Why?
It’s simple, branding is everything in China. If you are not known in the Chinese market, then the Chinese are unlikely to buy your products. So, the question arises: how to create branding in China?
First of all, companies in this sector need to know that localization is necessary to be successful in China. During their marketing and promotion campaigns, companies must adapt their content to local culture and must use local digital channels which are completely different from Western ones.
In fact, in China digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google are blocked and even the most famous messaging app in the West Whatsapp does not work very well in the country.
Therefore, where do the Chinese go to find information about companies, products, and to discuss topics?
The Chinese digital world is characterized by numerous applications to do all these things and today I will list the most important ones for the yoga clothes and equipment market in China.
Where do the Chinese go to discuss topics related to yoga products?
There are many discussion and forum apps in China. They are fundamental because in China people tend to rely on recommendations in the pre-purchase phase.
What should companies do to reach Chinese consumers and influence them on these platforms?
They must be present, manage the community and collaborate with KOL (Key Opinion Leaders) or KOC (Key Opinion Consumers) which are the best way to convince the Chinese to buy a product. They are believed to be reliable by Chinese consumers, also, thanks to their influence, they attract the attention of many people, and all this leads to more visibility of your company among Chinese consumers.
KOLs marketing is the best strategy to attract Chinese consumers to the Yoga industry
This technique is particularly efficient in China because they will be more likely to trust someone they admire rather than advertising.
However, selecting the right KOL isn’t always easy, you need to find a KOL that share the same values as your brand. You also need to pay attention to its community. Is it the kind of consumers that you want to target? Be careful, because sometimes, an influencer with the biggest amount of followers isn’t always the wisest choice.
GMA can help you in choosing the right KOL for your company, given our experience with numerous companies in this sector and other sectors, we can help you create an efficient KOL marketing campaign.
Brands can choose to kind of KOL in this sector:
- choose big stars or celebrities to transfer your message
- choose influencers highly relevant to target audiences such as yoga instructors, trainers or fitness influencers
For example, Tiffany is a Yoga teacher from Shanghai who has now collected 1m followers on Weibo.
She collects up to 50K of views per broadcast from yoga fans all over China. She recorded and released more than 150 classes of yoga, becoming one of the most influential yoga instructors of the Chinese social media world. She is also one of the most down-to-earth influencers, openly sharing pictures of her simple life, her children, and her travels.
KOLs for yoga apparel brands not only help expand the brand awareness and enhance their credibility but also educate consumers about Yoga and its benefits.
As Yoga and its associated mentality still need time to be understood and adopted by Chinese consumers, KOLs play a role in educating consumers about it, as well as encouraging them to adopt Yoga as a daily life habit.
The biggest app to discuss about yoga clothes and equipment is Zhihu
Zhihu is the main used Chinese question-and-answer site. It is similar to Quora where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its users.
As you can see in the following picture, this app allows users to create content about:
- which foods are best not to eat?
- why yoga is important?
- what benefits does yoga practice have?
- what are the best clothes to do yoga?
- which are the most used, which are the best and where to buy them?
It, therefore, offers ample opportunities for interaction, but why has this app become useful for companies? How should companies take advantage of this app?
What companies need to do is take advantage of user-generated content to interact with their community and promote the company’s value and products. How to do this?
On Zhihu Companies can develop:
- Q&A Campaigns (Answering questions, brands can establish a relationship with users and build their reputation this way. It allows them to promote themselves and introduce their products)
- KOL Endorsements to enhance a brand’s image and reputation (brands can invite experts or key opinion leaders to answer questions for them. Answering questions on Zhihu allows them to showcase their expertise and connect with both industry experts and general users)
- Zhihu Live (it allows brands to conduct online presentations on specific topics. Brands can have opportunities to provide in-depth knowledge and communicate with users in a more direct way)
- In-Depth Articles (Brands can publish long-form content to gain credibility in their industry which is highly valued by people in that industry).
Where Chinese go to find information about brands and products?
Around 90% of the Chinese population use internet and the most used search engine in China is Baidu. Therefore, why not be present on this search engine, being it the first place where the Chinese look for any information?
Having a Mandarin website on Baidu is necessary to create branding in China. Why?
Because Baidu knows only Mandarin, so it is extremely important for you SEO ranking. In addition, your website should hosted in China for the same reason.
If you want to break into the Chinese market and rank first on Baidu becoming visible to Chinese consumers, Baidu SEO is a must step and a must-have. However, Baidu is really different from Google, if you want to know more, you can contact us. We care about:
- Keyword Audit (Depending on your field, we can help you to establish competition analysis of your field and offer you the most adapted solution)
- Backlinks and PR (Quality Backlink to give more authority to your Website on Baidu)
- Website Optimization (Website Optimized for Baidu & Appealing to Chinese users)
- Content (Qualitative original Content focused on your Keywords to Rank higher on Baidu)
- Undercover SEO (Uses of Forums and Q&A to make sure your company is always visible on the 1st page of Baidu)
- Baidu Paid Ads (Use Baidu SEM to complete your SEO strategy).
Social networks are the best place to promote yoga clothes and equipment in China
Social networking plays a huge role among netizens, especially the younger generation. Chinese social media not only serves as a way to communicate online, but also as one of the main sources of news and entertainment, shopping advisors, dating channels, and e-payments.
Social media as a channel wins more trust over the consumers. Consumers believe more in the message they directly communicate on social media, whether via WeChat, Weibo, or Little Red Book posts.
People get a more solid connection to the brand via social media and at the same time brands can reach Chinese consumers and interact with them. As a matter of fact, companies should develop a good digital marketing strategy on these platforms.
What are the most important social media in the yoga industry?
In the yoga industry, besides must-have social media platforms such as Wechat and Weibo, brands can connect with more targeted audiences on fitness workout app Keep. Keep enables users to share their workout experiences on social media.
Furthermore, Xiaohongshu, the Chinese social-ecommerce platform, is also a place for discussions about health, beauty, fashion and wellness where you can find a lot of information regarding yoga products, brands, benefits and so on.
These two images show how Lululemon is using Wechat and Weibo to promote its products to Chinese consumers, of course it is using KOLs as marketing strategy. Content about Yoga can be widely diverse and impactful on purchasing decisions since this is a topic of inspiration and education.
Keep the major Chinese mobile fitness app
Keep allows users to view fitness videos and to buy fitness equipment. It contains a social networking service so that customers can share exercise routines with each other.
Keep reached one million users downloads by 105 days after its launch and had over 200 million users in September 2019.
By 2019, it had made over one billion sales in sporting goods and ranked fourth in the sporting goods category on the online retail website Tmall behind Decathlon, Lululemon Athletica, and Yijian Running Machine.
A December 2018 it was the most downloaded fitness app in China. Then, in 2020 China Global Television Network (CGTN) said that “Keep may be the ‘winner’ during the Covid19 pandemic, as it had numerous downloads during this pandemic.
GMA can help you to create your best digital marketing strategy for yoga products in China
Our agency has a profound understanding of both western and Chinese culture simply because our members are professional culturally-conscious marketers from both the West and China. As a result, you can find outstanding efficiency and ROI in our service. Besides, to make sure that our clients can use the latest marketing tools, we always keep up with the latest marketing trend in China.
If you want to know more about our digital marketing services, CONTACT US!