Do you have any sports equipment that you would like to sell in China? Whether you are a startup or an established company, there are a few things to keep in mind when selling your products in this market. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips to help make your brand into the Chinese market a success but first lets have a look at the market, its opportunities and challenges.

China’s sports equipment market overview

With the improvement of people’s living standards, health awareness, and the development of sports activities in China, the enthusiasm of Chinese residents to participate in sports activities continues to increase.


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China Sport Equipment Market figures:

  • The average growth rate of sports equipment goods increased by 45.2% year on year (2020-2021)
  • In 2020, the turnover for fitness equipment was CNY 39.52 billion, the YoY+% is 32.8%.
  • In 2020, the number of people exercising regularly reached 435 million, the YoY+% is 6.61%.
  • In global comparison, most of the revenue in sports equipment is generated in China ($31,458 million in 2020), as the following screenshot shows.

China Sport Equipment: buyers demographic

In terms of sports participation, in 2018, the rate of Chinese over 19 in China was 18.7%, while that of the United States reached 35.9% (the proportion of people of all ages participating in at least 3 sports activities per week). In 2020, this figure was at 37.2% and china’s plan is to increase this number to 38.5% of the population by 2025 (source Bloomberg).

Looking at the Baidu index gives us a good idea of buyers’ intent and consumers’ interests. For instance, when focusing on research related to strength workouts, the majority of consumers are males (with almost 60% of market shares) aged between 20 and 39 years old. Whereas on all fitness-related keywords, the ratio of the male to the female is relatively similar. When looking at the age distribution, the Millenials segments still make for the most important segment and we note that as peoples age, women stay more active than their male counterparts.

Your average fitness equipment consumers in China are:

  • Under 40
  • Earns more than 5000RMB/month or 10000RMB if couple.
  • Most likely has a bachelor degree or above

Opportunities in the fitness equipement market

  • Muscle building and strength training: There is a great potential for resistance training equipment developing in China market.
  • In 2018, the consumption of shoes and sportswear in China accounted for 12.5% ​​of total shoe consumption, while the United States reached 31.8% and the proportion of developed countries such as the UK, Japan, South Korea, and Germany was 24% -28%.
  • “Home gym” with the pandemic, China whitness an incredible growth in the personnal fitness equipement segment. For instance, stationnary bikes and threadmile recorded respectively 230% and 119% sales growth.

Thus, the Chinese sports equipment markets have a lot of room for improvement in sports participation and consumption of sports equipment. Unrealized consumer demand provides a large space for the future development of sporting goods in China.

Sports Equipment brands in China comes from everywhere in the world

In the ten years following 2009, major international brands have grown rapidly in China. In 2018, brands such as Nike, Adidas, Skechers, New Balance, and Puma represented 49.6% of the Chinese market, while the main national brands (Anta, Li Ning, Xtep, 361, and FILA, acquired by Anta), have a relatively stable market share of 22.6% and the share of other international brands have remained relatively stable at 7%.

While Chinese brands have been growing steadily over the last few years and the sportswear market is more and more saturated, there are still opportunities for foreign entities in this market, notably when it comes to niche and specialized fitness equipment.

How foreign brands can sell their Sports Equipment in China?

Now that we have seen the opportunities that the market represents, let deep dive into the best ways and practices to reach out to your customers base and start selling your sports equipment and fitness good in the Chinese market.

During the 2020-2021 period, eCommerce has become the main way of buying sports equipment in China with 63% of sales happening online (source QYR consumers goods research center).

If you are more interested in the distribution model, we invite you to check out this post and check out our distribution solutions for china.

Chinese Cross-border e-commerce can avert legal procedures for foreign brands

With Tmall Global, JD Global and Suning as resources for testing the market in advance before going through the various loops of administration to register a company in the country; it is easier than ever to enter China’s e-commerce space with confidence.

Tmall Global

Tmall Global is the biggest cross-border platform in China and its business model is a third-party B2C. Tmall Global direct supplies overseas authentic goods for domestic consumers by cooperating with the free trade zone, which avoids basic legal risks and obtains legal protection, greatly shortening the time between place orders and the arrival of goods.

By selling their products on those channels, foreign brands can avert bureaucracies and reduce legal risks as well as remove distribution obstacles.

Read as well: Guide to Chinese Cross-border ecommerce

Reach out to more Chinese Sports Enthusiastics by joining the Local Version of Chinese Online Marketplace

If the feedback of testing on the cross-border e-commerce is positive, and then the company has made up of its mind to sell its sports products in China, the e-commerce platforms such as Tmall, JD, are a good choice.

Being present on those e-commerce platforms can also help brands to reach more audiences.  Via the e-commerce channel, companies don’t have to invest time and money to build local facilities, get a local business license, or tackle with locations. They can host the inventory and run the business from anywhere in the world, with low overhead.

Learn more on our Guide to eCommerce in China

Branding is the key to selling sports equipment in China

Chinese consumers are picky and opinionated when it comes to their favorite brands. To stand out in a crowded industry, you need more than just good products–you also have branding that depicts your values as an organization while remaining respectful of cultural norms around China.

Not trusting brands is especially true of Chinese consumers. This is explained by many scandals happening all over in China in many sectors, leading many Chinese consumers to pick foreign brands over their Chinese counterparts. However, the poor reputation of Chinese brands has been changing quickly in the sport gears market and you’ll have to not only set yourself apart from already well-known international brands but also from a strong and dynamic local competition.

Start with a Chinese Website for your sport equipment brand

Dicathlon Chinese website

When the Chinese want to buy a product, the first thing they will do is search for information on the Internet. Is this product of good quality? Is the brand good? Are there some positive or negative reviews about the product?

If Chinese consumers can find your website in their mother tongue with a good storytelling of your brand, and detailed illustration about your products specs, it will give consumers a sens of reliability. Keep in mind that your website is one stop in the consumers journey, and most of type won’t be the conversion stop so do not get frustrated that your website does not convert, it is not your website goal!

Baidu SEO boosts your brand awareness

With more than 80% of the total Chinese search engine market share, Baidu is the largest search engine in China.

So far, search engines are still the main source of website traffic, and SEO is still ONE OF the most effective means of online marketing. If you want to have a place in the Chinese sports equipment market, your brand awareness is vital for your goal, because the Chinese consumer doesn’t buy products they don’t know, and baidu is the perfect media to do so.

Baidu SEO results when we tape in “Sports equipment”

On one hand, those popular social media and search engines that you are familiar with like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are blocked by the Chinese Great Firewall. On the other hand, although the theory of Baidu SEO and Google SEO is the same, in practice, they are quite different. Baidu SEO is more complicated and the algorithm is also different from that of Google. (Learn more about Baidu SEO)

Our SEO services can help you to comprehensively improve your website’s search engine ranking performance, generate more target traffic, and increase your company sales and profits.

Chinese social media: an efficient marketing strategy

Chinese people are highly connected to the Internet. China has a high rate of mobile phone penetration. Social media plays an important role and has a great impact on Chinese social lives. It is also one of the main sources of information or news for Chinese people.

WeChat, Weibo and Xiaohongshu are three of the leading social networks in China. They are different and complementary.

Wechat: the leading social media in China

WeChat, with more than 1.26 billion active users, is the largest one in China. Initially a messaging app, it has developp many more powerful functions over the years: mobile payment, hotel & restaurant reservation, e-commerce platform, etc.

This functions are what’s driving users growth but also are a godsent for marketers and brands that know how to make the most out of it.

  • What wechat is not for brand and companies: a fast following building mass sharing app for high conversion
  • What Wechat actually is: A powerfull Nurturing chanels that offers brands many tools to polish their branding a build loyalty whith their customer base.

Marketing on Wechat throught its many communications means for brands will definitly help with brand awareness as well a more engage “relationship” with you target audiance.

Wechat can also be used to sell your equipements, provide customers services and so on.

Weibo: a powerful tool for mass marketing & KOLs marketing

Weibo has more than 550 million monthly active users, ranking second in China. It is an open social network, which means every user can see every content on the platform.

As a result, it is an ideal channel for mass marketing. It is also the largest place for KOL marketing in China, to a point that almost all KOL, KOC, or celebrities that you can name have an account on this giant platform.

Weibo offers many forms of paid advertising and marketing tools that make it easier for brand to connect and interact with their target audiance.

Xiaohongshu: a user-generated content social network

Xiaohongshu is originally a UGC (user-generated content), where users can share their shopping experiences, tips, product recommendations… but now it has developed into a UGC combined with e-commerce, thanks to its big user database—more than 300 million registered users in mid-2019.

KOL & celebrity marketing about sports equipment on Xiaohongshu

KOL marketing works well for sports equipments

Social media combined with KOL marketing is very popular in China now; especially those with live streams. Even during the epidemic, the sales generated by this model of selling are not declining but sky-rocking.

But how to choose a correct KOL needs to be taken well into consideration. Not whatever which KOL can bring in traffic and profits for a brand. There are some tips to follow:

  • Choose suitable KOLs in harmony with brand concept and image
  • Pay attention to fake traffic data of KOL
  • If the budget is limited, small KOL well-chosen can work as well
  • The platform on which the KOL marketing will be launched matters

KOL marketing is very complicated and there are many tricks and hidden rules, it is strongly recommended to have recourses to a professional agency to implement the strategy for foreign companies.

Read our China Kols Marketing Guide/ultimate-guide-key-opinion-leader-marketing-china/ to understand how to collaborate efficiently with Chinese Influenceurs. Check out our Social Media and China Kols Solutions.

Zhihu: Q&A campaigns promote your brand credibility

Just like what has been discussed earlier in this article, Chinese consumers tend to rely on recommendations and former users’ experience in order to make their purchasing decisions.

Sports equipment topic group on Zhihu

Where do Chinese people discuss those sports equipment-related topics? Zhihu of course. Zhihu, the Chinese equivalent to Quora in essence. It is an important platform where Chinese find their answers like:

  • Can someone give some recommendations about jogging shoes?
  • How do you think about ASICS shoes?

As the above screenshot shows, there is a topic group dedicated to sports equipment and there are 766,805 topic followers and 29,922 Q&As.

Zhihu is also a popular place for advertorial and PR. Therefore, if you are planning to work on your brand credibility in order to gain more audience, your marketing strategy should include Zhihu.

To conclude on Sport Equipment Brands Marketing in China

All this article tries to share as much as possible information and tips about selling sports equipment in China. Indeed, the market is full of potential, in which lies a big challenge, however.

The Chinese market, no matter which sector, now is closely connected with social media and e-commerce, this is why digital marketing is so important, especially when the target audience is very suspicious about brands they don’t know.

gma agency

If you are serious and you are ambitious to gain a place in the Chinese market, but the complicated market, those hidden rules, and tricks make you a headache, we can help you.

As a professional Chinese marketing agency in Shanghai, our group, composed of marketing specialists from many countries in Asia and in Europe, is passionate and excellent in Chinese marketing strategies.

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