In recent years, the scale of China’s sports & fitness market has grown rapidly. China’s fitness market will reach 786.6 billion yuan in 2021 and is expected to reach 882 billion yuan in 2022.

China’s socially-oriented emerging sports: Frisbee

In 2021, the core market size of China’s Frisbee industry will be 7.59 billion yuan, and the market size of the industry will be 86.77 billion yuan. It is expected that the scale of China’s disc industry will continue to grow in the next six years, and to the precise type of development. Besides frisbee, there is a strong demand for peripheral products such as gloves, cleats, frisbee disc clips and target nets .

Over 60% of consumers learned about frisbee sports through DouYin(TikTok), followed by Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu) and Kuaishou (another popular video clip platform in China). There is currently a lot of traffic for frisbee on the web, and some brands have been active in co-branding activities with the frisbee community to turn traffic into revenue.

But the current Chinese frisbee product categories are not comprehensive, professional equipment categories still have a “gap”. For example, frisbee sports shoes, although soccer shoes can be replaced, but not much choice left for female consumers; frisbee gloves also face the same problem, few brands can meet both its protective requirements and fabric requirements; clothing, although Many producers label themselves can”customize frisbee uniforms” while in fact, their products neither reach the standard of professionalism nor aesthetic qualities. The market lacks professional equipment brands.

The gentle & rivalry sport among Chinese young people : flag football

In China, the search volume of flag football began to explode in March 2022, and its quarterly search volume online reached a nearly 100-fold increase.

Tmall (Taobao) shows that the demand for waist flag, belts, rugby gloves, stretch pants, teeth guard and other related products is growing rapidly, and there is still a large gap in the sports equipment market for flag football waiting to be filled by professional brands.

A new & traditional sport among Chinese young people : fishing

Under the influence of video clips and live streaming, many young people are interested in angling. Currently there are about 100 million angling users in China, among which people under 24 years old account for a quarter.

Little Red Book shows that fishing-related topics have 150 million readings and over 510,000 related notes, tied with surfing (590,000) and higher than the recent popular sport: Frisbee (60,000) and Sport Climbing (110,000). Among them, niche fishing methods such as 

lure fishing and fly fishing are growing rapidly.

Shopping platform data show that fishing supplies sales exceeded 1.4 million pieces in May alone, with sales exceeding 100 million yuan. And in Tmall(Taobao) , a total of 3 million people bought fishing equipment in 2021.

Offline fishing tackle stores are also huge consumption places. A variety of fishing forms led to the upgrade of equipment demand, special fishing rods, fake bait, fishing chairs, fishing boats, fishing alarms, fish finders and other high-tech equipment are increasingly popular, fishing gloves, fishing shoes, fishing clothes and fish detectors are more and more advanced.

The most-popular sport on water in China: surfing

In the summer of 2022, e-commerce platforms showed that surfboards became one of the fastest growing categories in terms of sports equipment turnover, with an increase of 465.45% in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. Consumption of surfing-related equipment also increased.

In the first half of 2022, the GMV (gross merchandise transaction) of surfboards increased by 465.45%; the GMV of “surfboard leashes”, which help surfers recover their boards quickly, increased by 422.04%; and the GMV of “cotton wadded jacket”, which ensures that the body does not lose temperature during water sports, increased by 100.47%. GMV increased by 100.47%. “Indoor surfing – surfing simulator” also became the affordable alternatives for enthusiasts.

The aincrease in indoor ski resorts has directly driven the sales of snow-making machines on Taobao; sales of ski equipment have also skyrocketed, in addition to sports equipment such as skis, ski goggles and ski poles, ski clothing, accessories, bags, and many other commodity categories have also attracted great attention. Consumers have higher demand for quality, fashion & professionalism in terms of ski equipment.

Emerging sports in the era of Internet

These sports are different, but they actually have something in common. They all emerged from social media platforms like: DouYin, Kuaishou, Little Red Book etc, then, they brought up the sales on Taobao, Jingdong and other e-commerce platforms, initiating a  “new sports economy”.

The industry believes that social media platforms, (especially video clip platforms like DouYin, Kuaishou) play a crucial role for the rise of Frisbee, flag football, but the influence of Little Red Book is almost decisive. 

The number of monthly active users of Little Red Book exceeds 200 million, of which more than 70% are post-90s generation, 50% of the users come from big cities, users are more sensitive to new trends and new sports, but also the leading group of future consumption. Little Red Book has fully explored the trendy attributes of these sports and has a lot of attractive photos of Frisbee, flag football, skiing, skateboarding and surfing to encourage young people to participate.

The spread process of emerging sports among Chinese young people groups:

  • Being ignited with interest on platforms such as Little Red Book and DouYin.
  • Searching for equipment apparel and rules tips in Little Red Book.
  • Then making decisions based on cost effectiveness, value and word-of-mouth.
  • Going to Taobao, Tmall, Jingdong or offline stores to make purchases.
  • Share their photos or tips on Little Red Book or in their WeChat Moments after exercising.
  • Attracting more people to participate.

Despite China’s emerging sports developing rapidly, they are still in their early stage. International brands should seize the opportunity to enter the Chinese market with a strategy that corresponds to Chinese consumers’ habits.

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