China is interested in Pole dance, a sport that mixes gymnastics, acrobatics, and ballet. A challenging sport that combines ground and height movements, tricks (static figures), and spins (figures around the pole) demanding both strength and flexibility. The technical nature of this sport does not discourage Chinese athletes, who are more and more numerous every year to try that new discipline.
Is Pole Dance being sulfurous? Let’s discuss it
The number of classrooms and fitness clubs adding Pole Dancing to their activities increased, every major Chinese city has at least its dedicated school. Athletes like Meng Yifan, Yao Song, or national team coach Yuan Biao already provide China with a solid reputation for competing at the highest level. From there to say that Pole Dancing becomes the new Chinese gymnastics?
In any case, Pole Dance represents a new market to be exploited in China, concerning sportswear, equipment, and sports education.
Burns and bumps, not to mention falls and ligament injuries … Dancers know the difficulties in the discipline, where displaced back and cervical involve regular visits to an osteopath. Pole Dance first developed in North America before reaching Australia and Russia, but the mentality evolution in Europe was gradual before considering it as a sport in its own right.
The discipline is now facing the same problem in China: its image is associated with pornography and highly controversial. Like Europe, China only sees the exoticism of pole dancing, whose movements with sexual connotations made all of the striptease clubs. Competitions, however, highlight the academic side of Pole Dance, where each figure is codified.
The athletes themselves do not dare to talk about their sport to their loved ones until they have won some medals in competition, preferring to believe in the follow-up of singing lessons or gymnastics. Their practice of an “indecent” sport can, therefore, be excused on the condition of their athletic success! The gap between younger generations and their parents is huge, not only in the practice of Pole Dance but in societal values such as the right age to marry or the perception of filial piety.
China targets medals
The image of Pole Dance begins to improve with the World Pole Dance Championships held in Tianjin in 2015, where the Chinese national team honored her country. Tianjin is, by the way, organizing the next championship for May 2018!
The organization of this competition resulted in the creation of this Chinese national team and an official training center in Tianjin, China Polar Training and Sports Center (CPDSTC), as well as the annual China National Pole Dancing Show in the same city. The 16 official athletes hope to change the public’s view of their sport through their performances.
China has always strongly encouraged its fellow citizens to compete, and gymnastics is a discipline where Chinese athletes shine particularly. There is no question of considering Pole Dance as a hobby: the discipline is an open door for Chinese gymnasts wishing to diversify into the competition, who may be unsuccessful to rank up into the rude national competition of classic acrobatic gym.
Why can Pole Dance be a lucrative market in China?
The younger generations of Chinese are inspired by American and European models to define their personalities. Pole Dance, a discipline made in the USA, is fashionable and makes it possible to distinguish oneself from others. To stand out is indeed a constant search in a country so populated, where the competition is fierce.
Girls reject the image of the traditional Chinese woman who must be virtuous: they want to be independent and muscular, the new model is a healthy body and it goes through sport. Pole Dance is a discipline that appeals because it helps to keep fit and build the whole body quickly. Chinese are looking for effective solutions to achieve their perfect body goals.
Finally, Pole Dance is a variation of gymnastics, a popular Olympic sport in China. The Chinese circus with dance and acrobatics is a large part of the national culture. Pole Dancing, despite its controversial image, is very close to it. The image of the discipline must evolve along with its expansion in China.
Any inconvenient? It is an expensive sport, starting from at least 25 € per class in all the international big cities.
A market for sportswear and equipment
A foreign brand wishing to market sportswear for Pole Dancing (such as Dragonfly brand that is a reference in the field) and equipment (gel grip, X-pole or Lupit pole, mattress) must be established now before the market is flooded by low-end copies and that it is no longer enabled to distinguish the quality from the rest.
As the equipment in Pole Dancing is very expensive, copies will be tempting for beginners or less experienced practitioners. In its communication campaign, it is necessary to bet on the quality of its products to convince buyers to invest. For a pole barn, it must highlight its good grip, safety in contrast with the risk of falling or destroying the ceiling. Making people aware of the risks of using bad equipment allows the buyer to understand that he is making a good investment.
Pole Dance is also an educational market
Summer camps and workshops in schools already exist abroad, exporting the principle to China would then be an excellent idea. These camps often feature foreign athletes who have excelled in high-level competitions.
Chinese have the culture of following an example and the model athletes are particularly highlighted in each sport. The United States and Russia are pioneers in the field. As such, we find in first research on Youku the benefits of the iconic Karo Swen, Maddie Sparkle, and Anastasia Sokolova, but also the tutorials of Chinese coaches or foreign ones like Bendy Kate.
Do not forget that, like in Europe, many females practice secretly at home with a pole ordered over the Internet and learn through online tutorials, rather than going openly to a dance school. This practice is common for former dancers or gymnasts who manage to learn without a teacher!
Towards a successful implementation of Pole Dance in China
To convince athletes, the sulfurous side of Pole’s underwear is to be banned. Although Chinese women want to feel sexy and emancipated, the image rendered in society is essential to keep face and can not disappoint their family. If we want to democratize sport, we must start by giving it credit as a serious and mixed discipline, and sweep its image associated with pornography. For a good sports practice, sports bras and underwear should be similar to those used for boxing and riding: reinforced, fitted, and breathable.
It should also be remembered that the Pole Dance competitions in China are strict on clothing, only the body parts used in the catches – such as the hip or the elbow bend – are exposed, resulting in specific holes in the clothing.
Marketing your sportswear for Pole Dance in China
To seduce Chinese buyers, Pole’s clothing must highlight technical materials: the Chinese are particularly fond of new technology in sports practice, the use of which accredits more the seriousness of their training in the eyes of those around them. The bar grip and the perfect length for skin grips, two keywords of your sportswear speech for the Pole.
All this does not mean that the clothes design is to be sober at all costs: as the Pole Dance recalls the artistic dance of the Chinese circus, it would be nice to add small aesthetic touches reminiscent of circus codes. One can think of outfits for teams competing, embroidered with the national flag or distinctive signs by provinces.
The image of the Pole Dance through your communication in China must, therefore, highlight competition, diversity, a serious sport whose intensive practice leads to dazzling results, feminine emancipation without any vulgarity, and the technical side of equipment that sales very good and justifies at the same time their high price.
Not to mention… communication on social networks
To reach Chinese customers, it is essential to be known on their social networks: your school must have a WeChat account where students can subscribe by scanning your QR Code, you must be active by posting videos of your choreography on Youku or Weibo.
Because dancing is graphics, you must also advertise your product through videos on Youku, post advertisements on your Wechat account. Making yourself known by offering tutorials for learning is a very good start. You can spotlight top Chinese stars to awaken national pride, but also Russian and American whose reputation is worldwide.
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