02/06/17 15:27 BST
by Hot Pot Digital

How To Digitally Engage with China’s Fitness Craze

In 2016, China’s sportswear market was estimated to be worth $28.4 billion. By 2021, it is projected to be worth more than $70 billion.

The prominence of keeping fit, for both health and aesthetic reasons, has boomed in China, along with a sharp increase in athleisure brands and fitness apps. The opportunity for brands to tap into China’s latest megatrend is huge – and yet still at the beginning of its growth phase.

The popularity of fitness groups and health pursuits is generally attributed to increased leisure time and disposable income among China’s middle class, combined with a growing number of Chinese people travelling and working overseas. The trend is also a signifier that a desire for a higher standard of living is to some extent replacing the aspiration for sought-after luxury material goods.

It is also a trend supported by Chinese government initiatives. China’s leadership aims to build a 5 trillion yuan ($761 billion) sports industry by 2025 to combat rising national obesity levels. In addition, China is also witnessing a growing consumer interest with professional sports – evident in Weibo’s collaboration with the NFL and NBA  – that in turn inspire people to take up fitness themselves: gym use, exercise classes and healthy eating have seen a huge increase in interest and sales.


The opportunity this poses for international brands should not be underestimated. Established brands have already made significant offline and online moves to make their mark in the fitness market: Lululemon’s yoga event in the Forbidden City, Nike running clubs throughout Tier 1 cities and Reebok’s recent FitHub launch are all recent examples.

Combined, Nike and Adidas account for a third of China’s sportswear sales. In 2016, Adidas saw its revenues in Greater China grow by 28% to $436 million leading to a plan to add 3000 more bricks-and-mortar stores in the next 5 years.  Nike reported in its third quarter that footwear and apparel segments in China rose 14 and 22 percent respectively.

As with many megatrends in China, the evolution of digital platforms and products has been rapid to keep up with this change in consumer preferences. From wearable tech in Xiaomi’s smart Bluetooth trainers, WeChat’s in-built Steps monitor to upcoming apps such as virtual reality Walk Up, the Chinese consumer is ready to experiment, track and share their fitness journey.



Founded: October 2014

Current worth: RMB 504 million

Downloads: 80 million

Daily active users: 1.9 million

Specific characteristics: Video exercise tutorials – each video averaging more than 100 million views

Collaborations: KOLs such as Chinese national team swimmer Liu Xiang and national team diver Qiu Bo. Brand collaborations with New Balance, North Face and Uniqlo among many

Why it works: Accessible video tutorials, big brand collaborations

Nike+ Run Club


Founded: 2005

Daily active users: 70% users aged 20-39 but no official statistics disclosed

Specific characteristics: Specific training courses with professionals, many meet-up offline events

Collaborations: Numerous collaborations with Chinese sportsmen such as Guo Ailun, Li Na and Su Bingtian

Why it works: Workout results shareable to WeChat, strong sense of community, opportunities for natural Nike product placement direct to target market

Xiaomi Yundong


Founded: 2015

Monthly active users: 18 million

Specific characteristics: Extremely affordable (the watch is £30), easy to use, functionality and connected to the wristband

Collaborations: Athlete Li Ning and Pizza Hut

Why it works: Shareable on social media, connected to WeChat steps, affordable price point

These captive communities in leading digital fitness platforms represent an opportunity for sportswear, athleisure, fitness and wellness brands to connect with a targeted demographic of engaged Chinese consumers.

Get in touch to find out how Hot Pot Digital can leverage touchpoints on WeChat, social media, and targeted digital communities to reach high value Chinese consumers.

Hot Pot Digital advises leading consumer, premium and leisure brands on digital strategies for the Chinese market.

We generate high-value audiences through targeted social, digital and paid media campaigns.