The Chinese sports industry is in the midst of a transformation. It has been rapidly growing for years, and now it is set to become one of the largest markets in the world. One of the reasons for this rapid growth can be attributed to the silver generation in China – defined as China’s elderly population aged 55 and over.
The Chinese government is trying to help China’s ageing population, by promoting sports among the silver hair generation. The silver-haired generation in China is helping to shape the future of the Chinese sports industry by participating in many different sports activities. Let’s take a look at the Chinese elderly preferences when it comes to sports and some of the market insights and trends.
The overview of the sports industry in China
According to market reports, in 2022, the sports products market in China is predicted to generate a total revenue of $1.2 billion. With an estimated annual growth of 6.7%, the market will reach $1.6 billion by 2026.
The silver-haired generation in China is the largest of its kind in the world. In China, there are approximately 150 million elderly people between the ages of 60 and 70. The World Health Organization predicts that, by 2050, the number of Chinese elderly will have increased to 330 million.
As you can see on the graph above, people aged more than 40 years old (including the Chinese senior population) also engage in sports and fitness and the trend will only grow, as Chinese seniors are becoming more health aware and understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
What are the reasons behind China’s rapid market growth for sports products for the silver-haired group?
If you were to take a walk in China at 6 am, you would see numerous groups of Chinese seniors practicing Tai-chi together. Chinese retirees love being active, and they aren’t ready to retire from those activities yet. You can see them through the day jogging in parks, doing yoga in studios or gyms, walking their dogs, or practicing their new moves on the balcony of their houses.
1. The growing trend toward ‘active aging’ in China
The silver-haired generation in China puts a heavy emphasis on health and fitness, often using health supplements to aid their journey. They also have more disposable income than the younger generation, with many of them being retired or semi-retired. China’s silver economy is thriving and thanks to Covid, Chinese seniors started online shopping, so it’s easier to reach them online.
2. The Chinese government is supporting the elderly
In an effort to encourage its citizens to lead active lifestyles and engage in physical activities, the Chinese government has launched the “Healthy China 2030” program. The program is addressed to other age groups as well, but China’s older generation is especially emphasized by the authorities, which promote sports activities to silver-haired consumers. The country’s population is ageing, so it’s important to engage the Chinese silver generation in sports.
3. Fitness Apps are growing in popularity
Fitness apps have seen a massive rise in popularity, especially in China, due to the pandemic. The pandemic has resulted in a surge of people looking for ways to stay active while stuck at home.
The fitness app market in China is booming as a result, with apps like “Keep” and “WeRun” becoming increasingly popular among the elderly demographic. Apps such as these provide personalized workout routines, track progress, and give users access to social communities.
4. Obesity has become a global issue
Obesity problems in China are also on the rise, which has caused the government to encourage a healthier lifestyle. This includes initiatives such as subsidizing gym membership and providing financial incentives for those who participate in sports activities, including elderly people.
5. For the silver generation, sports are not just for staying fit but also socializing
Doing sports is a great way to socialize, especially for the silver-haired generation that might not otherwise have many opportunities to interact with others. This is especially important in today’s society, where traditional values are rapidly changing and younger generations are often moving away from them.
Sports activities such as Tai Chi and ballroom dancing are popular among the elderly community and have become an important part of the sports industry in China.
6. The new, innovative products tailored for the elderly
The Chinese sports industry is taking advantage of this trend by introducing innovative products and services specifically tailored toward the elderly. These include specialized equipment such as water rowing machines and stationary bikes, as well as equipment for aerobics and yoga.
What are the latest and most popular sports among the silver generation in China?
Traditional methods such as Tai Ji Quan, Qigong, and Yangko dance are still popular in China; however, the nation’s senior citizens have begun venturing into other areas of sports and leisure. These styles are less traditional and more oriented toward a global appeal.
In today’s China throughout the entire mainland, all green parks are packed with the silver-hair generation each morning and even during the entire day. They are stretching, using the equipment in the park, or lifting weights. Some of them bring their handy equipment, they are all dressed up in fitness clothing and proper sports trainers. China’s senior population loves to actively spend time in the parks.
A couple of years ago the first elderly-exclusive gym opened in Shanghai. The center offers elderly members professional personal training and health coaching sessions. Today only in Shanghai, there are more than 20 gyms that cater exclusively to seniors.
Recently, the elderly in Shanghai received a special gift coupon from the sports bureau. With this coupon, they can access elderly gyms for only a small amount of money per year.
Especially in the first-tier cities of China, it’s more and more common to see active seniors dressed in technical sports clothing, carrying water bottles, and walking their dogs at a fast pace. They carry little sports bags for their phones, earphones, and small healthy snacks.
They wear hats, and they use sunscreen. They are certainly very well equipped and enjoying their leisure activity with their favorite friend.
In the past, yoga was seen as an activity only for younger women. Nowadays, people of all ages and genders enjoy it. In China specifically, though, the yoga trend is just beginning to take off. Chinese men and senior citizens are starting to participate more frequently, and it looks like the popularity of yoga will continue to grow rapidly in China.
To make things easier for the elderly, more innovative props are appearing on the market. Blocks, belts, cushions, aerial yoga equipment, soft flexible clothing.
How to target active seniors in China?
It might be surprising, but the senior generation in China engages in online shopping and social media just like the younger generations. The covid pandemic helped with that, as elderly consumers started to shop online. Urban elderly watch short videos, check forums, and websites, and use social media. Some reports show that they spend up to 4h daily online.
Therefore, you can promote sports equipment and apparel online, but you need to be smart about it. The senior market in China presents great opportunities, but it’s important not to neglect this age group. It means, that in your promotional materials you should also show older people, you can also find more and more middle-aged or elder influencers for collaboration on WeChat or Weibo.
Another important part is to highlight the quality of your products. The silver-haired generation is willing to spend more on products with good quality, but they need to be assured of that. They also use the Internet and mobile apps to study and learn new things, so it’s definitely a good idea to promote many educational materials about sports and healthy lifestyles.
More than 80% of the total population of older people uses social media, especially WeChat, so you don’t need to change your strategy as much. The most important part is not to ignore this group and offer them content useful for them.
Need help marketing your products to China’s middle-aged and elderly population?
The sports industry in China is rapidly growing with super-active elderly Chinese people taking the lead. The silver generation in China presents an amazing opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs.
If you are interested in the Chinese sports market, reach out to us. We are a China marketing agency with more than 10 years of experience in the market. We helped more than 600 brands from different industries, adapting marketing strategies to their goals, values, and budgets.
We offer tailor-made solutions for your brand, depending on your needs. We can discuss the opportunities that exist and how to capitalize on the growing trend. With a population of over 1 billion, this market is one of the biggest in the world so there are plenty of opportunities for those who are looking to get involved.
Don’t hesitate to leave us a comment or contact us to discuss your project in China!