Opportunities for Western Companies in the Chinese Fitness Industry

The health awreness is continuing to grow in China and consumers want to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

As the global economy suffers under the weight of the pandemic, the Chinese fitness industry continues to gain traction. Although the rise of fitness influencers has created exponential growth in the fitness market, COVID has pushed the vast majority to pursue health and fitness online. This combination puts Western companies in a prime position to digitally sell and market to Chinese fitness enthusiasts.

Pandemic has also impacted postively the health food market and supplement brands.

TRENDS FOR CHINESE FITNESS INDUSTRY

The Chinese government has strong influence in local economies, which can artificially sustain growth briefly, so it can be difficult to tell what is popular with the Chinese consumer base. However, the fitness industry is different because– while other markets simply maintain– the Chinese fitness industry grew 160% between 2015 and 2020 and continues to grow even during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not killed the fitness boom in China, instead redirected consumers to the digital fitness market. This new trend is great news for Western digital suppliers because it makes it extremely easy to sell products in China without worrying about the global supply chain log jam. In addition, platforms like Douyin are great tools to help Western companies connect with the Chinese consumer base.

The two increasingly popular activities of yoga and boxing represent a larger premiumization trend in China’s fitness consumption. For instance, Tier-1 cities are fostering a growing yoga culture bolstered by fitness digitalization.

WESTERN FITNESS DIGITAL PROVIDERS

You may be wondering how Western companies can compete in the Chinese digital fitness market. Every fitness movement typically has three consumption categories: workouts, food and supplements, and activewear. So all you need to do is discover how your company can deliver in one or more of these categories.

DIGITAL WORKOUTS

Brick and mortar gyms are struggling in China, not only due to pandemic social distancing requirements but because Chinese gyms typically offer long-term memberships that consumers don’t want. If you are a fitness guru, now would be a great time to develop an app or website to sell video subscriptions of workouts. Popular workout niches include yoga, martial arts, and a growing interest in classically American sports like football and basketball.

HEALTH FOODS

As the final part of the triple threat of the health industry, the sale of healthy food and supplements always spike with workout subscriptions. You can participate in this trend in several ways, including digital products and actual foods and supplements.

Gen Z and millenials are the key customers for many brands in this market as brands build a youth image. Baidu Index shows Gen Z and millenials have the most interest in vitamins and health supplements.

For example, every business has expertise in their industry that can be taught in a class or seminar. Digital courses offer a high profit margin since the expense is up-front in recording and editing, but there are very few expenses and unlimited purchase ability once created. If you are a nutrition expert, you can create classes on how to meal plan, cook healthy food, calculate macros, or review fad diets. All of these options don’t require any physical shipment.

SELL ATHLEISURE

The influencer movement has taken hold of athleisure, and China is pushing that wave. Athleisure is high-end athletic wear, with designer touch to make it suitable for meetings or other activities while promoting comfort and mobility. Again, Chinese influencers are pushing this clothing line, so now is a great time to sell or design these clothes.

While selling digital athleisure products may be slightly more challenging, digitally marketing your line can be incredibly easy when using platforms like Douyin.

The North Face on JD.com

USE DOUYIN TO CONNECT WITH CONSUMER BASE

Douyin is owned by Bytedance, the same company that owns Tiktok. While the two have been confused as identical products, Douyin is more advanced than its counterpart. Much of its competitive edge comes from its superior e-commerce ability. It offers the same primary platform of short videos, and influencers have a similar presence where they can have great success in displaying their products and services while building a friendship with their client base. The difference is that Douyin makes in-app purchases much easier and allows a better search function to find the desired products.

Also do not forget that there is a strong trend for using short videos to impact audience in China, and Douyin is right platform for this.

NEED HELP?

Emotion Digital has a strong understanding of the Chinese market― we want to help you unleash your business’s potential to one of the largest populations in the world. Schedule your free consultation today.

How short videos became the new format for selling ?

Short videos are the new format for selling

Nowadays, according to a fast pace of life, people need brief and short information. Instead of a long and detailed written format, people prefer to watch a short and animated format

Did you know that Chinese users spent more than 25% of their phone time on short video mobile apps ? Consequently, 38.28% of leisure time was spent on mobile entertainment according to the China Good Life Survey.

In China, Douyin 抖音 (Chinese version of Tik Tok only usable in mainland China) is the leader of short videos mobile applications, followed by Kuaishou 快手.

Apart from Douyin and Kuaishou, short videos are on the rise on Wechat Channels as well. The super mobile application developed all formats of videos : short, long, live streaming sessions… 

Music, dance, lifestyle, humor, short story or advice videos are plenty for users to spend time on short videos apps. But how do brands manage to take short videos for selling ? 

Short videos are fun, creative and time-spending

Mobile applications such as Douyin and Kuaishou are based on browsing short videos endlessly. Users don’t expect to see advertising but creative content made by other users.

Some of the good ingredients to create a good video that will make people watch it to the end : Visual + Trendy music + Plot twist + People’s face.  

Brands have understood the importance of short videos and are now engaging with creators who have a large audience on Douyin to promote their products. 

Test and try products by Li Jiaqi : Mac Cosmetics

Video from Douyin @李佳琦 Austin Li

Short videos are recommended according to users’ interests

Douyin’s algorithm is made for entertaining users, consequently all of the content will be shown if the user has shown preferences to some of the categories of videos.

Douyin’s algorithm will highlight these user’s call-to-actions :

Active (likes, comments, shares, sending tips during live streaming…)

Watch-time (from the beginning to the end of the video, replay, swipe…)

Search methods (recommendation page, hashtags, music search tab…)

If a user has shown interest in a video showing shopping places, then Douyin’s algorithm would also suggest lookbook videos that could inspire the user to buy some new clothes or accessories.

Lookbook video on Douyin

Video from @曲岑兮 yitingyou

Brands are pushing ideas for collaboration with creators on Douyin : unboxing, test and try products, showing off clothes or luxury bags collection…

Watching several videos in a row with the same brand’s products will create the viewer’s desire and attract curiosity. On Douyin’s videos, users can directly shop products by clicking on the shop logo, which is usually just above the username. After arriving on the creator’s store, users could buy clothes, cosmetics products, DIY objects and other categories of products.

Short videos are great format for Millenials and + 30 years old people

Compared to mobile gaming and digital reading, short video have higher mobile user penetrations of 75.2% and the majority of China’s short-video users (which is over 70%) is between 18 and 35 years old and the majority are located in third-tier and fourth-tier cities than the top tier cities, according to China Internet Watch. 

Users of Douyin have a longer duration of the engagement. Around 30 million users opened Douyin early in the morning and browsed it late at night. 

Yet, the behavior of the users’ purchasing power is different. Chinese Z Generation people are more likely to buy instantly and are more quickly convinced of a trendy product, while those over 30 years old have a more thoughtful consumption and will take the time to learn more about the product’s details. 

But in both cases, it is profitable for the brand which is gaining notoriety. The more visible it is, the more users have the potential to turn into consumers or advise people around them about the products and brands they have seen, consequently creating word of mouth effect.

       Unboxing : Converse

Video from Douyin : @帕尔哈迪迪