The sports equipment market overview in China
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.
According to Statista data, the turnover of sports equipment amounts to $31,458 million in 2020. The market is expected to grow annually by 5.9% (GAGR 2020-2023).
In global comparison, most of the revenue in sports equipment is generated in China ($31,458 million in 2020), as the following screenshot shows.
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 at least 3 sports activities per week).
In addition, 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%.
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.
The Chinese market is occupied by national and international players
In the ten years after 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 has remained relatively stable at 7%.
How foreign brands can sell their items in China?
Direct sales of foreign brands in China include online sales and offline stores.
Cross-border e-commerce can avert legal procedures for foreign brands
For brands that are not yet present in China, if they want to test the market before a big investment, they can have recourses to cross-border e-commerce platforms, such as Tmall Global, JD Global and Sning.
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 and remove distribution obstacles.
E-commerce platforms help reach more audience
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.
Branding is the key to selling sports equipment in China
For every brand that wants to enter the Chinese market, the first step to take is branding. Why? Because it is a way of distinguishing yourself from your competitors and building a reliable brand image so that your target audience can trust you.
This is especially true when it concerns the Chinese consumer. Due to scandals happened in China in many sectors, the Chinese prefer to buy foreign brands as they perceive those products as reliable and premium. Let alone those foreign companies with good branding.
Creation of your Chinese website enhances your brand credibility
When the Chinese want to buy a product, the first thing he will do is searching 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 consumer can find your website in their mother tongue, storytelling your brand, illustrating in detail about the products, he will feel that this is a brand reliable. Let yourself explain your product is the best way.
It is worth keeping in mind that your website must in Chinese Mandarin and hosted in China or nearby in order to be loaded quickly.
Baidu SEO boosts your brand awareness
With more than 70% of the total Chinese market share, Baidu is the largest search engine in China, and it is also the largest Chinese search engine in the world.
So far, search engines are still the main source of website traffic, and SEO is still 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.
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.
Our SEO service 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 the Chinese people.
Wechat, Weibo and Xiaohongshu are three leading social networks in China. They are different and complementary.
Wechat: the leading social media in China
Wechat, with more than 1.2 billion active users, is the largest one in China. It is created in the form of a messaging app, but it’s more than that with those powerful functions: mobile payment, hotel & restaurant reservation, e-commerce platform, etc.
Marketing on Wechat can help you to boost your brand awareness in a short way. What’s more, thanks to its community form, you can target your audience more precisely and create your brand community via an official account, the group management.
Weibo: a powerful tool for mass marketing & KOL 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 celebrity that you can name have an account on this giant platform.
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 marketing works well for sports products
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 need 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
The 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.
GMA, an expert of digital marketing in China, is always at your disposition.
Zhihu: Q&A campaigns promote your brand credibility
Just like what has been discussed earlier in this article, the Chinese tend to rely on recommendations and former users’ experience in order to make their purchasing decisions.
Where Chinese people discuss those sports equipment related topics? Zhihu of course. Zhihu, a 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 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.
If you are serious and you are ambitious to gain a place in 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.