What do Chinese Sports Consumers Like?

Are you looking to tap into the lucrative Chinese sports market, but don’t know where to start? Well, fear not! We understand the challenges that come with selling to Chinese sports consumers, and we’re here to help.

Did you know that 59% of Chinese consumers are interested in sports? With our in-depth research and comprehensive guide, we will uncover the profile of Chinese sports consumers and provide strategies for success in this booming industry.

Get ready to unlock the secrets of reaching this vast market – read on!

A brief overview of the Chinese sports market

China’s sports market is booming, with a total size of more than RMB 2.95 trillion in 2022 and an annual growth rate of more than 10.9%. This presents exciting opportunities for marketing managers.

The demand for sportswear and related products is driving this growth, and the market encompasses traditional martial arts as well as competitive sports.

Anta Sports is a key player in the industry, both domestically and internationally, highlighting China’s prominence in the global athletic market.

Interestingly enough, government policies further stoke these flames by promoting development within the industry. As such, foreign brands are presented with significant opportunities to make their mark here too – thanks largely to not just its sheer size and potential but also evolving consumer preferences that keep things interestingly unpredictable.

The Profile of Chinese Sports Consumers

Chinese sports consumers have a wide range of interests in various sports, high engagement with international sports, and a growing desire for personalized items. Discover the socio-economic characteristics, consumption patterns, and decision-making processes that drive this dynamic market.

Interests in a wide range of sports

A survey conducted by Nielsen Sports and Leaders reveals that Chinese consumers have impressively diverse sporting interests. 59% of sports enthusiasts in China enjoy engaging in a wide range of activities, beyond traditional favorites like running, badminton, table tennis, basketball, and soccer.

The most significant surge in interest has been observed among consumers under the age of 30, who display a preference for global sports that were not previously popular in the country. This demographic is particularly attractive to international companies like Nike, which are operating in the expanding sports market in China.

Brands have recognized the growing trend among young consumers towards more extreme sports like rock climbing, car racing, and surfing, which are projected to gain popularity in the coming years.

Catering to these growing preferences can mean tapping into an audience driving a substantial portion of the global consumer economy growth—making it even more crucial for businesses with an eye on success on Chinese shores.

High engagement with international sports

The potential for engaging with global sports enthusiasts is immense, particularly in China’s sports market. A significant 59% of consumers in China show a high interest in international competitions and events.

This interest is especially prevalent among the younger generation under 30, making them a highly attractive demographic for businesses like yours.

These passionate sports fans go beyond national boundaries to fuel their love for diverse athletic activities worldwide.

Work - idesign, iulian danaila, Senior UI Designer, Amsterdam

Nike’s success story offers a valuable example of how to capitalize on this trend. Instead of simply importing products, Nike built loyalty by sponsoring local sporting teams and events, providing a comprehensive consumer experience that transcends borders.

Your ability to tap into China’s ambition to become a global sports powerhouse could pave your way into winning over these highly active Chinese consumers who are eager to connect globally through the language of athletics.

Increasing desire for personalized items

Chinese sports consumers are increasingly seeking personalized items as a way to express their individuality and align with their self-expression desires.

This trend reflects a broader shift in the consumer market and presents an opportunity for brands to gain a competitive edge by offering tailored options and customizable sports gear.

Understanding and meeting this desire for personalized items will be crucial for businesses looking to succeed in selling to Chinese sports consumers.

Growing need for self-expression through sports

Chinese consumers, particularly the younger generation, are showing a growing need for self-expression through sports. This trend is driven by their increasing embrace of Western lifestyle elements and a desire to explore different cultural aspects.

As a result, there is a rising demand for foreign spirits and a greater appreciation for diverse forms of expression.

Work - idesign, iulian danaila, Senior UI Designer, Amsterdam

One notable example of this trend is the growing popularity of skateboarding in China. Skateboarding offers consumers a physical outlet to express themselves creatively, allowing them to break free from societal norms and showcase their individuality. This has sparked significant interest in self-expression through sports among Chinese consumers.

Overall, the shift in consumer behavior highlights a desire among Chinese sports consumers to express themselves more freely and authentically. This trend is fueled by the adoption of Western influences and a growing appreciation for different cultural aspects.

Additionally, digitally-empowered Chinese shoppers are using their purchases as a form of self-expression, highlighting the importance of allowing consumers to translate their personal style into their sporting choices.

For businesses targeting the Chinese sports market, it’s crucial to recognize and adapt to the growing need for self-expression. By understanding consumer behavior and preferences influenced by consumption values and social norms, companies can cater to these desires through personalized product offerings and branding strategies that resonate with individual expression.

Socio-economic characteristics and purchasing power

Understanding the socio-economic characteristics and purchasing power of Chinese sports consumers is crucial for effective targeting in this market. Factors such as age, sex, income, education, and occupation significantly influence consumer behavior in China. Lifestyle segmentation can provide valuable insights into the preferences and attitudes of different consumer groups.

Luxury purchases are seen as a way to socially advance and differentiate oneself among Chinese consumers. Despite the impact of COVID-19 on purchasing power, Chinese consumers still have a demand for high-quality products.

McKinsey’s report on China’s consumer trends for 2023 also sheds light on these dynamics. Moreover, it is worth noting that social media has a strong influence on Chinese consumers’ intentions to purchase environmentally sustainable apparel.

Popular Sports Brands in China

Chinese sports consumers recognize and show loyalty to top sports brands like Nike and Adidas, placing importance on brand reputation and trust.

Recognition of top sports brands

The top sports brands in China, such as Nike and Adidas, hold significant positions in the Chinese sportswear market.

Nike currently leads with a remarkable 22.6 percent market share as of 2022. Adidas is also a dominant player, and together, these two brands account for one-third of the Chinese sportswear market.

Nike Wechat Mini Program

However, it’s worth noting that local brands like Anta and Li-Ning are gaining popularity and fiercely competing against these international giants. Anta, in particular, has emerged as a significant player in the Chinese sportswear industry and is highly sought after by consumers.

Recognizing these top sports brands is crucial for businesses to better understand their competition and adapt their marketing strategies accordingly.

Brand loyalty among Chinese sports consumers

The study found that Chinese sports consumers, especially young consumers, have a strong sense of brand loyalty toward sportswear products. Popular sports brands in China have gained recognition and trust among Chinese sports consumers.

Nike, for example, has experienced significant growth in China by sponsoring local sporting clubs and high-profile athletic events. It is important for businesses to understand brand loyalty within this demographic to succeed in the Chinese sports consumer market.

The Role of Technology in Marketing to Chinese Sports Consumers

Utilizing social media platforms (Weibo, WeChat, Douyin/TikTok)

Social media platforms in China, such as Weibo, WeChat, and Douyin/TikTok, present tremendous opportunities for marketers to reach and engage Chinese sports consumers. Leveraging these platforms effectively can help businesses enhance brand awareness, drive sales, and build a loyal customer base. Here are key strategies for utilizing social media platforms:

Leverage Weibo

Weibo is one of the most popular social media platforms in China, with millions of active users. It offers features like messaging, blogging, live streaming, and user-generated content. Marketers can use Weibo to create engaging content, share updates about products or events, and interact with Chinese sports consumers.

Harness the power of WeChat

With over a billion monthly active users in China, WeChat is an essential platform for marketing to Chinese sports consumers. It offers functions beyond social networking such as e-commerce integration and mobile payments. Brands can use WeChat Channels to create compelling content and engage their target audience by sharing relevant articles or videos.

Tap into Douyin/TikTok

Douyin (known as TikTok outside China) has gained immense popularity among young Chinese sports consumers. Marketers can leverage this platform to raise brand awareness and promote sporting events through creative videos that resonate with the target audience.

Combine digital marketing strategies

Integrating various digital marketing techniques like search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, display advertising, and video ads can maximize the impact of social media efforts on these platforms.

Embrace live-streaming sales

Live-streaming has become a popular trend in China’s e-commerce industry. Businesses can leverage this trend by hosting live-streaming events on platforms like WeChat and Douyin. This approach allows them to interact directly with Chinese sports consumers, showcase products, and offer exclusive promotions.

Mobile commerce and live-streaming sales

In reaching Chinese sports consumers, technology, particularly mobile commerce and live-streaming sales, plays a significant role. Live streaming accounts for about 10% of e-commerce revenue in China, according to McKinsey.

This interactive medium has quickly become a major sales channel, transforming the retail industry. Chinese consumers value the educational aspect of live streams and often make purchase decisions based on hosts’ demonstrations.

Brands are capitalizing on this trend by selling products in real-time during these sessions. Marketers should recognize that interactions within live streams greatly influence purchase intentions.

To take advantage of mobile commerce and live-streaming sales opportunities, businesses can partner with popular platforms like Weibo, WeChat, Douyin (known as TikTok internationally), or collaborate with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and influencers who have substantial followings among Chinese sports consumers.

WeChat Mini-Programs Revolutionize KOL Sales Campaigns

By utilizing digital marketing strategies and understanding consumer behavior preferences unique to China’s market trends such as online shopping habits and high engagement on social media platforms, companies can gain an edge when targeting this demographic.

Importance of KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) and influencers

Top 10 Chinese Fashion Influencers & KOLs - Fashion China

Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and influencers have a significant impact on reaching and engaging with your target audience, especially in the Chinese sports consumer market.

These individuals have the power to shape opinions and drive purchasing behavior, making them invaluable in marketing campaigns. By partnering with influential figures on social media platforms, you can effectively reach Chinese sports consumers and establish brand credibility.

Trustworthy KOLs enable your brand to connect with the target audience in an authentic manner, resulting in increased brand recognition and loyalty among Chinese sports consumers who heavily rely on social media for information and entertainment.

Partnering with local brands, influencers, and sports teams

Partnering with local brands, influencers, and sports teams is a crucial strategy for achieving success in the Chinese sports consumer market. By collaborating with well-known local companies, businesses can establish credibility and trust with Chinese consumers.

This is achieved by forming alliances with influential individuals and sports organizations, which enables companies to tap into existing fan bases and leverage their influence to promote products or services. Through this approach, brands can reach a larger audience and build brand recognition more effectively.

Furthermore, partnering with local entities provides valuable insights into cultural nuances and consumer preferences, allowing businesses to customize their offerings specifically for the Chinese market.

Case Studies

Explore real-life examples of successful and unsuccessful entries into the Chinese sports market, providing valuable insights and lessons for businesses.

Analysis of successful and unsuccessful entries into the Chinese sports market

Having a thorough analysis of successful and unsuccessful entries into the Chinese sports market can provide valuable insights for brands aiming to tap into this lucrative industry.

For instance, examining the success of Li Ning, a top Chinese sportswear company that owns 8.2% of the market, allows us to understand how a brand can transform its image and resonate with Chinese consumers.


On the other hand, analyzing unsuccessful attempts helps uncover common pitfalls and challenges faced by brands entering this competitive market.

As China’s sports market continues to grow rapidly, it is essential for marketing managers like us to stay informed about these studies in order to make informed decisions and maximize our chances of success in targeting Chinese sports consumers.

We are your local partner in China! Contact us! 

Understanding the profile and preferences of Chinese sports consumers is crucial for businesses looking to succeed in this lucrative market. By recognizing their interests in a wide range of sports, desire for personalized items, and increasing engagement with international sports, companies can tailor their marketing strategies to effectively target this audience.

Leveraging technology, building brand trust, and incorporating cultural differences will further enhance success in capturing the attention and loyalty of Chinese sports consumers.

We are a China-based marketing agency offering cost-effective solutions to foreign brands interested in tapping into the Chinese market. Our team of Chinese and foreign experts has the experience and know-how needed to succeed in this lucrative, yet complicated market.

Gentlemen Marketing Agency offers many digital marketing and e-commerce solutions, such as web design, e-commerce and social media marketing strategies, localization, market research, KOL marketing, and more.

Don’t hesitate to leave us a comment or contact us, so that we can schedule a free consultation with one of our experts, that will learn about your brand and present you the best solutions for your China market strategy.

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1 comment

  • Patrick H

    The sportswear market kept going regarding apparel in China, but what are the responsible factors? KOLs… pop culture… others?

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