Mark Tanner
9 February 2022 0 Comments

Happy Year of the Tiger – what a way to kick things off with an Olympic Games. The lead up may not have seen the national-boycotts of the Moscow and LA Games in the 80s, but Beijing 2022 has been the most politicised Olympics since. Whilst Americans are showing less interest in the Games based on NBC’s Opening Ceremony 43% viewership drop from South Korea’s in 2018, Chinese consumers are lapping up the Games with a great deal of national pride.

The opening ceremony was, as expected, a flawless and stunning event which went viral on Chinese social media. The LED light shows, illuminations, fireworks, songs and in-sync performers and dancers that radiated across the Bird’s Nest Stadium were nothing short of a spectacle, but they were less lavish than the ceremony at the same venue in 2008. 3,000 performers – a fifth of the Summer Games’ 15,000 – dazzled the audience in the ceremony which lasted less than half the time of the 2008 opening. Much like the scaled-down Singles’ Day festivities last year, the ceremony’s comparative scale was well aligned with Common Prosperity principles, as was the theme of unity, based on the Games official slogan “Together for a Shared Future.”

Like in many Olympics Games, what is happening behind the scenes are the most characteristically-Chinese aspects. The Lululemon website crashed multiple times after being bombarded by Chinese wanting to get hold of the brand’s down jackets which were adorned by the Canadian athletes in the opening ceremony. The smart beds stoked national pride, after being praised for being much more comfortable than the cardboard editions at the Tokyo Games. And of course, there are Covid-free robots preparing and delivering food and the barmen and cocktail staff serving salubrious beverages in full-PPC suits in the Olympic Games bubble.

Back in 2015, when Beijing was awarded hosting rights of the games, they pledged that they would sport 650 ice rinks and 800 ski resorts, and attract 300 million Chinese to participate in winter sports before the games began. It was a lofty goal by any measure, but China does lofty goals well. As of early 2021, China had built 654 ice rinks across the country, up a whopping 317% from 2015. There are also 803 indoor and outdoor ski resorts dotting China. 346 million Chinese people have participated in winter sports training, amateur or professional competitions, and winter sports-related leisure activities, and this is expected to continue to rise of the back of the Games.

The soaring engagement of winter sports has supported growth in related purchases. At JD’s “2022 New Year shopping festival” for example, ice and snow equipment increased by 107% from a year earlier and winter sportswear grew 99%. Spare a thought for the ducks and geese. On the popular lifestyle social platform RED, winter sports have been among the top trends, with searches for “ski tutorial” doubling, followed by “how to choose ski equipment,” and of course, “photo tips in the snow.”

The rise in winter sports is part of wider growth in sports in China, driven by consumers seeking health, fitness and experiences, as well as the Government’s 2019 “Outline for Building a Leading Sports Nation” plan, aimed at accelerating China’s overall sports development.

Increasing popularity in sports and exercise will have widespread implications for consumers. Aside from direct sports product sales, it will impact purchase behaviour across many categories including food, health supplements, cosmetics, fashion, luxury, tourism and even cars, to name a few. Beyond product purchases, sports and exercise-themed communications are likely to resonate with more consumers, as will related KOLs and other influencers and potential brand collabs.

When you’re looking for a break from the bobsledding or figure skating, contact China Skinny to learn how best to capitalise on the rise of sports and exercise, and other trends in China.

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