Outdoor Sports are Booming in China

Outdoor Sports are Booming in China

Have you ever caught a whiff of the escalating outdoor sports market in China? As a marketing manager, I’ve stumbled upon this trend and it certainly sparked my curiosity. Camping under the stars, cycling through picturesque landscapes, and even competitive bouts of ultimate frisbee are becoming all the rage over there!

This blog post is dedicated to unraveling those key factors that have kickstarted this love for nature-based adrenaline rushes among Chinese consumers.

And yes, we’ll also delve into how billions could be reaped from capitalizing on their newfound passion for outdoor activities. Intrigued much? We invite you to journey with us as we explore new horizons and untapped potential! So grab your exploratory spirit and dive in right away.

Key Takeaways

  • Outdoor sports like hiking, rock climbing, and camping are big in China now.
  • More places for biking and swimming also bring fun to people.
  • Martial arts is a part of the outdoor fun that has always been loved in China.
  • Ultimate Frisbee is fast becoming an exciting game loved by Chinese folks.
  • Women make up 66% of outdoor sports lovers but men play these sports more often.
  • Younger Chinese people love being active outside and they spend money on it too.
Market Size of the Sport Industry in China

The sports industry in China saw a market size of 3.12 trillion yuan in 2021. It had been consistently growing until 2019 when it encountered a roughly seven percent decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s influence.

Popular Outdoor Sports in China

From the scenic hiking trails in Jiuzhaigou Valley to rock climbing in Yangshuo, outdoor sports are quickly becoming a go-to pastime for Chinese consumers. Camping under the starlit skies of Inner Mongolia or cycling through the bustling streets of Beijing provides a different type of thrill.

Dive into pools for swimming sessions or practice martial arts right under China’s blue sky – there’s no shortage of activities here! Lastly, don’t forget Ultimate Frisbee; this is not just tossed around on college campuses but has made its mark as an emerging sport across multiple cities in China.


Hiking is not just a sport, it’s a boom in China! More people are hitting the trails for nature exploration. They love to get lost in wilderness exploration. This has made hiking jackets and shoes fly off the shelves of stores.

It boosts sales too. Companies think they’ll have even more hikers soon. So, they’re happy and look forward to seeing more outdoor adventurers on hills and mountains!

Chinese hiker

Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing Chinese Man

Rock climbing is picking up steam in China. It’s grown so much, that there are now more places to climb rocks inside than ever before.

Many people go to climbing gyms. From 2016 to 2019, the number of these gyms almost doubled!

El Dorado stands tall among them all. Some say it’s the biggest sport-climbing wall in Asia!

Ice climbers from China also show their skills in contests. But outdoor rock climbing isn’t as common as indoor climbs here.

Chinese folks are seeing the fun and rush in this sport. They’re making it one of the top outdoor activities in our country.


Camping is on the rise in China. Young people love it. They see it as fun and a new way to enjoy their free time.

It’s not just for tough hikers any more. The city folks are getting into it too!

Cities in China are making room for people to camp even if just for one day.

This big boom means there are chances for outside money to get involved too. People can set up bigger camps in the countryside or spots where lots of tourists go by.

Bike Riding

Bike riding is booming in China. I see more people on bikes each day. The Chinese Cycling Association said the same thing too. There are special roads for bikes all over the country.

You can even find men fixing bikes by the road in many places! Yet, it’s not all good news. In Shanghai alone, around 350 bikers die each year. Of course, this does not stop bike riding from growing here.


Swimming in China is a big splash! It’s not just a way to cool off, it’s also becoming a beloved outdoor sport. People are diving into swimming more than ever before. Right now, there are about 36,000 places to swim across the country.

Most of these spots are under the open sky. This push for fun in the sun has even brought up sales of things like sunscreen and water shoes.

Swimming is not just about having fun either; it helps keep people fit too! Chinese folks want more thrills and adventure in their lives and swimming fits that bill perfectly.

So get ready, from pools to lakes to seas – aquatic activities are on a roll in China!

Other Water Sports

Water sports like paddle boarding, surfing, and diving are on the rise in China. This trend is driven by urbanization, rising incomes, and a desire for outdoor recreation.

Paddle boarding is popular due to its accessibility and versatility. Surfing attracts thrill-seekers, especially in coastal regions like Hainan. China’s extensive coastline offers great opportunities for diving enthusiasts.

Government initiatives promoting a healthier lifestyle and environmental awareness have further boosted these sports.

Clean water efforts and improved beach infrastructure make them more appealing.

This growth in water sports benefits local economies, creating jobs and business opportunities. It reflects a broader trend of people seeking adventure, relaxation, and a closer connection to nature in China’s evolving leisure landscape.

Martial Arts

Martial arts are big in China. They have always been part of popular outdoor sports here.

Kung Fu, a form of martial arts, is loved by many people. It’s not just about fighting, it uses moves that help to keep the body fit.

Judo, Karate, and Taekwondo are also played a lot here.

These three types of martial arts are even in the Olympic games! Older folks love them too because they have been around for so long in Asia.

Today, these sports which started with our old folk tales still live on and play a major role in boosting the boom seen in outdoor sports!

Ultimate Frisbee

I can’t get enough of Ultimate Frisbee! It’s picking up speed as a popular outdoor team sport in China. People find it easy to jump into because there isn’t much you need to start playing.

The pandemic has boosted Frisbee sales, with Yikun Sports leading the charge. This beginner-friendly game is part of a bigger wave too.

Flying disc sports are growing like crazy here!

Who is Driving the Growth in Popularity?

The surge in outdoor sports popularity in China is largely driven by younger generations, with a noticeable balance across genders.

Male / Female Divide

In recent years, we’ve noticed a significant divide in male and female participation in outdoor sports in China. Despite being a smaller percentage of the overall outdoor sports population, female participation is growing at an impressive rate.

GenderPercentage of Outdoor Sports LoversRatio in Outdoor Sports Activities
Women66%1 to 4
Men34%4 to 1

What this table showcases is a contrary relationship between the percentage of women who love outdoor sports and their actual participation rate. Although they make up 66% of those who have a passion for outdoor activities, they are outnumbered by men in actual participation. Accordingly, men represent 34% of outdoor sports lovers, but their participation rate is four times higher than women. This presents an interesting dynamic and potential marketing opportunity for companies considering the female market.

Gen Y and Gen Z are the Core of the Market

Young people in China love outdoor sports. The Gen Y and Gen Z groups make up the heart of this market. Data from Mafengwo, a travel website, says that these young folks lead the trend for sports like hiking and camping! They love being outside.

These younger generations drive growth in popular trends and they shape our consumer market too. Even with Covid making things hard, they still spend money on fun times and trips away.

China sees its young people as an engine to grow at home buying power! Why? Generation Z shoppers born between 1996 and 2010 add up to about 15% of all Chinese people. That is a lot of voices shaping what comes next!

Marketing to China’s Sports Enthusiasts

Online Presence

Establish a strong online presence. Create a user-friendly website or app, optimized for mobile devices. Ensure it’s available in Chinese and offers a seamless user experience.

Create high-quality content that educates and entertains sports enthusiasts. Write blogs, produce videos, or host webinars about relevant topics. For instance, if you sell sports equipment, provide tutorials on how to use them effectively.

Be sensitive to cultural differences and customs when promoting your products or services. What works in Western markets may not be suitable for the Chinese market.

nike online store

Social Media Marketing

Leverage Chinese social media platforms like WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin (TikTok). Share engaging content, such as videos, images, and articles related to your products or services. Partner with sports influencers to reach a wider audience.

Ensure all marketing materials are in Chinese and culturally appropriate. Localize your messaging to resonate with the target audience.

Create WeChat Mini-Programs to provide additional value to your customers, such as fitness tips, training plans, or product customization options.

Given the high mobile usage in China, mobile marketing is essential. Invest in mobile ads, mobile apps, and QR code promotions.

china ecommerce - lining flagship store on douyin

E-commerce Platforms

Consider selling your products through popular Chinese e-commerce platforms like Tmall, JD.com, or Taobao. These platforms have vast user bases and can help you reach sports enthusiasts directly.

Chinese consumers are often attracted to discounts and promotions. Consider offering special deals, especially during major sports events or holidays.

Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews and ratings on your platforms. Chinese consumers heavily rely on peer recommendations.

Provide excellent customer support in Chinese, addressing inquiries and concerns promptly.

Engage in Sports Events and Collaborate with Local Athletes

Sponsor or participate in sports events, competitions, or marathons. This can boost brand visibility and credibility within the sports community.

Partner with local athletes or sports teams. Their endorsements can significantly influence sports enthusiasts’ purchasing decisions.

Leverage KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders)

Identify and collaborate with sports-related KOLs who have a substantial following in your niche. They can help promote your products to their dedicated fan base.



Outdoor sports in China have a bright future. Big cities and small towns both like these activities a lot. As more people play, companies make new gear to meet their needs. The sports market will likely reach 82 billion yuan by 2025!

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