Yoga is a super market in China, with millions of practitioners and more than 10,000 yoga schools all over the country, China is transforming into super yoga economy.
Yoga market shows so chance of slowing down
The sportswear market in China is posting strong momentum, ranking No 2 only after the United States by market value, according to Euromonitor International. In 2018, the sportswear market in China was valued at $40.5 billion and will grow to $58.1 billion by 2023.
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Statistics from Euromonitor International also show that performance apparel, which includes all items specifically designed to facilitate practicing different types of sporting activities such as yoga, is rising sharply in China, and will be worth an estimated $9.3 billion in 2023 from $5.9 billion in 2018.
The yoga market in China, specifically, is also booming at 32.2 billion yuan ($4.68 billion) in 2018, according to an iResearch report. New yoga participants continue to emerge
Growth is boosted by an expanding middle class with increasing disposable income and awareness towards active lifestyles. They are also influenced by Western culture and social media where a fit and strong physique is often appreciated over the traditional beauty standard of “skinnier is prettier”. Furthermore, physical and mental well-being should be equally important and harmonized, to Chinese consumers, which is one of the main reasons that there has been a recent resurgence in people doing yoga.
Meanwhile, China’s per capita consumption of sportswear is low — lower than Malaysia, Brazil, Germany, and the UK — leaving a lot of untapped potentials for new brands to explore.
How to market your Yoga Apparel Brand in China?
In this part, we would brief you on key strategies to build and promote your brand in the Yoga clothing market. For each strategy, we would use the brand Lululemon as an example.
Lululemon is a high-end sportswear brand established within Canada in 1998. The consistent brand image and its effort to promote a healthy lifestyle have rapidly caught the attention of the female population in western countries, outshining other sportswear brands. In 2015 when Lululemon first entered the Chinese market 2015 and till now is leading the Yoga clothing market.
For brands, hiring popular and on-trend KOLs is a great way to attract Chinese consumers. While globally dominant players like Nike or Adidas choose big stars or celebrities to transfer their message, Lululemon makes use of influencers highly relevant to target audiences such as yoga instructors, trainers, or fitness influencers.
In the promotional video produced by Lululemon in 2016 targeting the Chinese market, several sports ambassadors of China were invited to be filmed for their aspiration for sports and their journey to achievements. These brand ambassadors included Min Lin, a yoga instructor who was in a national women’s ping pong team or an outstanding diving athlete from China named Ao Lin Wang, and more. At Unroll China 2017, the brand’s mass yoga event in Beijing, it invited the yoga legend, Baron Baptiste, to join the event and create a buzz.
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.
Unroll China 2017 in Beijing. (Courtesy Photo)
Omnichannel marketing, to multiplicate “touchpoint”
Omnichannel marketing is important when building a brand in China, especially to Yoga clothing brands where the values lie not only in the products themselves but the lifestyle and the experiences surrounding them.
Lululemon has imported its yoga-centric lifestyle, holding numerous events offline for yoga-lovers and inviting famous yoga coaches and key opinion leaders to amplify the impact.
Back in 2017, the ground around Beijing’s Forbidden City was carpeted with hundreds of people doing outdoor yoga on brightly colored mats, as Lululemon kicked off “Unroll China”, its first series of fitness events in the country. The event sold out overnight for the simultaneous yoga events in three key markets in China.
Yoga events at iconic locations in big cities are a smart marketing idea to give Yoga lovers the opportunity to connect with each other as well as a wonderful feeling to practice what they love in such beautiful and spiritual surroundings.
These events also viral-ness and attract great attention on social media, especially if they involve the participation from KOLs in the fitness or Yoga arena.
Holding pop-up events with KOL influencers and live-streaming them over social media is a good way to build awareness and drive traffic for yoga wear brands in China.
Social media marketing in China, entry gate to reach Chinese Girls
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. It gained over 10 million users within 289 days and reportedly has over 120 million registered users today.
Furthermore, Xiaohongshu is also a place for discussions about health, beauty, fashion, and wellness where you can find a lot of information regarding what people care about Yoga, what they are talking about brands, what they expect from Yoga clothes for example.
Keep’s exercise community (left) and Little Red Book’s exercise community (right)
Social media marketing in China also revolves around content marketing and influencer marketing like in the West. Content about Yoga can be widely diverse and impactful on purchasing decisions since this is a topic of inspiration and education.
Lululemon has created a Wechat official account to closely interact with the consumer group and community, then later creating a Weibo account, obtaining approximately 100,000 followers at the moment.
To celebrate the New years of 2018, Lululemon created 10 symbolic practices that are suitable for every day, with the traditional Chinese culture as the inspiration, such as the lion dance to represent the practice of willpower, giving red pockets as the practice of sharing, practice of traveling to represent curiosity and discovery.
This is very interesting and useful original content that a brand can create for its fans. It highlighted Lululemon’s expert position in Yoga practice as well as showed the brand’s respect and understanding of Chinese culture.
Selling online in China: the challenge of Apparel Brands
E-commerce accounts for ~26% of sportswear sales in China. It is one important channel besides offline stores to enable customers all over China to purchase products conveniently.
After partnering with TMall in November of 2015, the online sales of Lululemon in China have increased up to 350%. In 2016, TMall yearly sales for Lululemon have increased by 50%. And in 2017, there is a 175% increase in traffic, which is over doubling the previous records, with an extremely high conversion rate.
Lululemon, who rarely have discounted items, has adapted to the Chinese culture by having a sale event on November 11 (11-11) on TMall in 2016. During the sale, Lululemon has incorporated lottery and dollars off purchases over certain purchase values.
For brands that want to test the water before a full investment, cross-border e-commerce is a good option. Fakes are still a big issue for e-commerce in China. Many Chinese consumers still do not trust local Chinese brands, and often look to purchase authentic, high-quality products from overseas through cross-border e-commerce.
Building offline communities
Joining and nurturing communities of Yoga lovers and practitioners is a good way to set a direct relationship with them and nurture that relationship by offering activities frequently.
Brands can host yoga studios and fitness centers with free fitness classes, like yoga, cardio, kick-boxing to create their own community and group of consumers. From these communities, brands can understand better their customers and their expectations.
AntapluS, another big Yoga wear brand is establishing cooperation with many yoga communities and practitioners to help yoga fans gain strength and understanding from exercising.
Lululemon also has specialized yoga studios, fitness centers to reach out to the community while introducing the brand to the community. In this way, Lululemon is able to leave a remark in the consumers about their product, brand philosophy, while allowing the brand to gain data of the targeted audience segmentation and behaviors.
Hope this article inspires you …
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