The sports sector has developed strongly in China since Covid-19. Combined with the global digitalisation of the country, this creates a very favourable context for brands that must constantly innovate, especially in their marketing campaigns.
This article aims to complete the article written by Lucie Pondant on April 3, 2022, to bring another dimension by integrating the cultural and historical elements that explain this phenomenon.
Sport, an element of Chinese culture
Since the 20th century, the country has set up a political-economic-sports system with the aim of raising sports performance to become the world’s leading sports power in 2049. The latter date will be the centenary of the Maoist revolution.
Exercise and sport have always been very important in Chinese life. Asians in general are very active at all ages. They practice martial arts such as Tai Chi and go hiking for example.
The importance of sport in China was also highlighted in 2008 during the Summer and Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Moreover, the Chinese are getting richer and richer these days. The price of gyms is high, so joining one justifies belonging to a certain social class.
Support from the Chinese government
The Chinese government, in its aim to become the world’s greatest sporting power, has put in place numerous measures. For example, it has increased the budget devoted to the sector. In particular, it wants to increase the number of people who exercise at least 30 minutes three times a week by 38.5% by 2025.
In addition, the government is investing in infrastructure and has planned to build and upgrade more than 2,000 fitness centres, stadiums and sports venues. It will also push and support SMEs in the fitness sector.
In order to develop the practice of sport at the national level, it is also necessary to start inculcating this value from a very young age. For example, China has proposed a revision of the Chinese Law on Physical Culture and Sports. It aims to encourage education and sports departments, schools and parents to organise and guide young people to take part in sports in order to prevent and control myopia and obesity.
Finally, the project also encourages the establishment of sports teams and clubs on university campuses to offer various sports activities to students.
Sports marketing in China
The market was already developing strongly before the Covid-19 epidemic, but it became more pronounced during the confinements. Indeed, Chinese people started to consider their health as a priority. The Chinese activewear market is an excellent indicator of this trend, growing from 8.8% to 13.3% by 2020.
In addition, Chinese sports companies are becoming increasingly popular. This is largely due to the boycott of the most famous brands such as Nike. The Chinese brands Anta Sports and Li-Ning, (China’s best-selling sportswear brands), account for 15.4% and 6.7% of the Chinese market.
Another trend that has emerged is the development of sponsorships. Indeed, Chinese sports brands sponsor many athletes and teams. For example, Suning founder Zhang Jindong bought a 70% stake in Inter Milan, an Italian football club. His aim was to promote the club in China and abroad.
Chinese technology companies Hisense, Alipay, Vivo and TikTok also played a major role in sponsoring Euro 2020.
These sponsorships are on the one hand an excellent way to give credibility to the brand and on the other hand to make it popular because the athletes reflect a positive and professional image and allow strong messages to be conveyed.
Digitalisation of the sector and influencers
The digitalization of the sector has also greatly benefited marketing. Indeed, the development of online marketing, e-commerce, and the practice of sport at home through training sessions and applications have increased the accessibility of sport and multiplied the opportunities for brands.
In addition, influencers are extremely popular in China and are also an asset for brands. One example is Ying Yang Shi Ge Zhong, who provides content on nutrition topics.
In conclusion, the development of sports and the digitalisation of China is creating a range of opportunities for companies in the sector. They now have a wide range of tools to promote their brand or their products/services, thanks to new technologies such as AI. Government support is also a valuable asset in China and allows the sector to innovate.
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