The quantitative and qualitative analysis of 7.7 million Chinese social media posts formed the basis for the Chinese Sports Consumer Values whitepaper series—a multi-faceted portrait of values that influence the consumer behaviour of Chinese sports enthusiasts. Image credit: Messe München
China’s rocket-like rise from a developing country to a world power has swept the sporting goods industry along with it.
In particular, major sporting events drive the market and create tremendous potential for national and international companies. But what is the best way to address and reach athletes in China? What matters to them in their daily lives? ISPO and the consulting company Trendbüro have jointly explored these questions and come up with some answers in a seven-part whitepaper series called “Chinese Sports Consumer Values.”
It is a study that explores and illuminates the key values of sporting goods customers in China and evaluates their meaning for the sporting goods business.
The papers in the China Sports Consumer Values series are based on the Chinese Consumer Value Index 2019. Researchers evaluated 7.7 million posts on the most popular Chinese social media channels, the micro-blogging service Sina Weibo and the “super app” WeChat on the basis of qualitative and quantitative criteria. The result was a comprehensive portrait of values in China, complemented by the latest findings from trend research.
Drawing on this general research, ISPO and Trendbüro dug deeper into the sports segment. They worked together with the writer and cultural anthropologist Maggie Li to develop a detailed, seven-part study for this specific area.
Values as a business driver
Each whitepaper focuses on one of seven key values: simplicity, health, nature, community, success, recognition and freedom. The whitepapers are divided into different interpretations of these general terms, specific examples of successful brands and projects that are based on the value and the understanding of it as well as the meaning of the value for new business models. The different types of lives led in cities and rural areas are taken into consideration, just as generational and income differences are. The research also led to the development of specific, clearly formulated recommendations for companies in the sporting goods and outdoor industry.
Elena Jasper, exhibition director of ISPO Beijing & ISPO Shanghai, said the entire industry would profit from the new findings: “By understanding Chinese consumers in this depth, we as ISPO can align our engagement in China more specifically to the predominant needs. The added value for both producers and brands is even clearer. The findings will help them to better understand the Chinese market, avoid possible complications in advance and fully benefit from the existing business potential.”
Sports, the “miracle weapon”
One finding stands out: Sporting goods customers in China are driven by time and professional pressures, which are exacerbated by the complexity of everyday life. Leisure time outside of work is rare and should be used ideally. Sports fulfill several purposes. In addition to the desire to remain healthy, regular physical activity is associated with success and recognition. It promotes identification. Sports are a way to climb to higher, presumably more important strata of society. As a result of the limited amount of leisure time in China and the size of the country with its many rural areas, online shops that are open at all times and are available everywhere are an absolute must for a successful business.
The entire English whitepaper series is available online and can be downloaded for free.
Background: ISPO in China
ISPO’s success story in Asia began back in 2005 with “ispo china,” the international trade fair for sports, fashion and lifestyle brands. As part of Messe München’s internationalization strategy, the existing ISPO concept was exported to the growth market of China where it became a real hit. After two successful years, the first “ispo china winter”—now ISPO Beijing, the leading trade fair for the sporting goods industry in the Asia-Pacific region—was held in 2007. In 2015, ISPO Shanghai was launched to serve as an exhibition for summer sports in the pulsating metropolitan area of Shanghai. ISPO has been part of the market’s development for 16 years now. It showcases trends and helps European companies make the leap to China and Chinese companies make the jump to Europe.