In recent years, the Chinese people have become more and more aware of leisure sports, and the sales of swimwear have exploded in China. This sales rise has a great connection with the swimming athletes in the Olympics. However, looking at the Chinese swimwear brands, there are almost no brands that consumers can call out by name. So, does this mean that the swimwear brands that Westerners admire, the beach resort wind can blow the land of China?
In China, the Swimwear Market is Increasing
Data show that the demand for swimwear in China has increased dramatically, and China is the most boastful swimwear market in Asia in terms of growth, with an average annual growth rate of 9.6%. The usage rate of swimwear is most likely related to the two main themes of sports, and tourism. According to Chinese tourism data, beach cities such as Sanya and Xiamen see a peak in summer with over 40,000 visitors per day, where activities such as water surfing, water skydiving, and other beach activities are developed, also creating a demand for swimwear.
Swimwear belongs to the must-have summer fashion items, and also presents diverse standards as the times evolve. China’s conservative culture is also gradually internationalizing, and such an underdeveloped market has brought opportunities to countless international swimwear brands.
Who are the Chinese Consumers who Purchase Swimwear?
1. Swimmers and Sporty People
The majority of “swimmers”, for the most part, break through the demand for swimwear only in the summer, and this is a group of swimmers with sportsmanship. However, while in the past swimming in China was a skill for the upper middle class, now more and more people are able to send their children to swim lessons. And this group of enthusiasts, often multi-functional, surfing, sea motorcycling are their favorite, most of the time with the sea, also greatly increased the demand for swimwear.
Since the swimming classes were the distinguishing feature of the upper class and elite, more and more middle-class and lower-class consumers started to take swimming classes. Since the majority of the country is located in the countryside, the construction of pools has surged. Purchasing good-looking and sporty maillots, swim trunks, or bathing suits is key for these consumers.
2. Vacationers and Holiday Lovers
At the same time, China has a vibrant coastal tourism industry. China has 13 major coastal tourism cities, (Dalian, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Guangzhou, Haikou, Sanya). With the growing fever of pirates at home and abroad, there is also the push of social media. The summer heat and the sun are just the right time, so it is hard not to want to go frolicking on the beach. Young Chinese people from Gen Z are also very good at posting their own beach videos and photos online.
Therefore, it is natural for people to want to show off their beauty in glamorous swimwear. As of July 2022, the hashtag “swimsuit” has been viewed 54.11 million times on Xiaohongshu, China’s leading social media. The majority of Chinese consumers are looking for fashion and trendy design, typing luxury brands names such as Dior in the hope to find a unique design to make their personality stands out.
3. Women with the Ability to “Break Conservative”
In fact, there is a big difference between the East and the West when it comes to swimwear choices, with the Chinese preferring fair-skinned, conservative, and traditional swimwear to the dark-skinned, tanned culture and sexy bikinis of the West.
With the development of the times, a large number of Chinese women began to break the routine, do not want to be like the past, wearing flesh-covering swimsuits, unwilling to highlight their bodies, and worrying about the fact that their body is not perfect. But gradually aesthetic diversity is entering the Chinese market. This trend is very new in China but some new marketing campaigns are emerging. More inclusive, no longer the definition of beauty is white plus thin, but to accept their original beauty.
How to Launch your Swimwear Brand on the Chinese Market?
Position your Brand with the Marketing Concept of “Women’s Confidence“
Western swimwear brands, in terms of design concept, want to establish a similar brand image. For Chinese women, swimwear from international brands inspires confidence and sexiness. When they think of purchasing a foreign brand for this product category, this is what they are looking for. The Summer Vintage pictures are still vivid in mainland China. Local consumers love to look at the styles, colors, retro shapes and fabrics from before combining elegance and cuteness.
How to target Chinese women consumers? As a swimwear brand, you can target powerful and liberated women. These Chinese women share on social media about freedom and strength of thought and could be the right choice to promote the brand. Especially on Xiaohongshu, Chinese women share pictures of worldwide celebrities such as Hailey Bieber to get inspiration from their unique taste. The “as seen on” trend is key in the swimwear category.
Boost your Brand Awareness with a KOL/KOC Campaign
In China, Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) are a huge driver of merchandising. While in the West the platform Netflix can be a huge driver, in China you can collaborate with influencers for C-Drama. International brands often mistakenly believe that the Netflix strategy can be applied to all markets without distinction and that it is all about finding KOLs in their own aesthetic culture. Brands need to fully grasp and understand the local market in order to engage Chinese consumers at different touch points.
Compared to Western countries, local influencer campaigns are much more complex. First, KOLs abound in China, there are celebrities that require a high investment. When choosing a collaborator, brands must be very clear about their goals and expected results. Secondly, there may be different KOLs focusing on the same product category, but their fan base may be completely different. Therefore, brands must also be clear about their positioning and target audience in order to join forces with the right KOLs.
It is well known that in China, KOL is a huge incentive to bring in goods. International brands often mistakenly believe that it is enough to pick several KOLs to share pictures on social media. But each KOL is different, and you may not engage in the same way with each of them. A differentiating content is also the key with fictions and C-dramas.
Choose the Right Sales Channels with Live Streaming and E-Commerce
Nowadays, in addition to the two important channels of offline brick-and-mortar stores and online shopping, live-streaming is also the biggest new trend for Chinese people.
Live Streaming – Create Buzz Sales Campaigns
On Jitterbug Live, many accounts are selling swimwear items. In particular, in the live room, in addition to the basic audio equipment being complete, the model’s live try-on is also a big selling point. In general, Chinese consumers have a hard time purchasing sizes with international brands. The fitting is not always exactly the same, which will often prevent them from purchasing online. During live streaming, different hosts are trying S / M / L with three different body models, to share as much insights as possible with their viewers. Fans can interact in real-time in the live room, ask questions, anchor live answers, and directly place orders. This sales method, D2C, is a great strategy to reach a wider consumer base and sell higher volumes.
Such a live broadcast is mainly used in Douyin, where the sales volume is the highest.
E-Commerce – Have Your Online Flagship Store Open 24/7
On Tmall, several swimwear brands launched their flagship stores in the previous years. But compared to social e-commerce platforms such as Douyin and Little Red Book, the majority of swimwear brands on Tmall are not fashion… but sporty. You can find the official flagship stores of Speedo, Arena, Toswim, Balneaire, etc. There is room and opportunities for fashion swimwear brands with the right investment to launch on Tmall.
How to launch a Tmall store? First, you need to pass the audit from Alibaba and Tmall. They will review your social media, brand awareness, online reputation, and sales potential. While the fashion e-commerce marketplace used to select only brands with at least 30 million USD of annual turnover, they now decided to open up to small brands when the potential is high. As Tmall Partner (TP), we have access to the industry data and daily talks with Tmall to know the kind of brands they are looking for.
Just in time for the summer swimming season, do you want to join the Chinese swimwear industry market?
The market of the swimwear industry is getting better and better, and it is a good time for international brands to enter the Chinese market. We are GMA, based in Shanghai, China, and have been dedicated to digital marketing, able to quickly position brands and understand the buying habits of Chinese consumers. With our team of 70+ marketing experts, we have created countless success stories. From market research, and business consulting to practical operations, we have a professional team to take care of your brand in China.
Contact us if you want to discuss your next project for the Chinese market