China’s Next GenZ Craze? Frisbee Collabs

Jing Daily’s monthly Chinese Collabs column looks at the China-related collaborations and drops that are transforming the luxury landscape. From local fashion brands to C-beauty, virtual idols to NFTs, and KOLs to lifestyle and games, it offers a curated selection of what’s dropping and the trends behind them. 

What look like UFOs have been populating Xiaohongshu feeds recently, gifted as PR presents to fashion and beauty KOLs. They have taken the form of green discs from Prada, emblazoned orange circles from Elizabeth Arden, and white plates from Marni. Although they are not for sale, many netizens have expressed their desire to purchase the item. 

Following the skiing and camping trends, playing frisbee has become this summer’s favored outdoor activity by young locals. After months of lockdown, the need to socialize has been ignited by this humble, flying object. The “2022-2026 in-depth market research and investment strategy suggestion report on the frisbee industry” states the market size of China’s frisbee industry exceeded $12.5 million (85 million yuan) in 2021. 

Xiaohongshu data shows that since September last year the search volume for frisbee-related content has grown considerably. In May, searches increased by 62 times year-on-year. Currently, there are 490,000 UGC instances on the app while the same topic on video platform Douyin has been viewed more than 340 million times. 

This craze reflects a shift in attitudes around the sport  from a mere physical exercise to a new way of socializing and spending free time. Young men and women divide into two teams of five to seven people and compete to fly the frisbee into the opposite team’s goal. According to the “2022 Youth Trend Sports Report,” 60 percent of Millennials and Gen Z use “frisbee camps” to make friends. As Louis Houdart, ex-founder and CEO of Creative Capital, points out: “Frisbee has found a special connection with Gen Z. It has a strong community aspect that allows outdoor socialization. It resonates strongly after these traumatic months of lockdowns.” 

To nurture deeper relationships with young demographics and embed themselves in their daily lives, brands have to act fast to stay on top of the fad. In the fast-changing market of China, collaboration offers a viable option to capitalize on niche categories quickly. Here, Jing Daily analyzes how three brands from different sectors played with the latest frisbee hype.

Anta x BYD

Anta hosted a summer camp with carmaker BYD. Photo: Anta

The Collaboration: This summer, domestic sportswear giant Anta and native carmaker BYD teamed up to transport consumers to their joint camping festival in Qingdao. There, selected participants could take part in a frisbee competition (as well as enjoy picking fruits and vegetables, and barbecuing under the stars). The Chinese athleisure brand equipped all 50 contestants with its ready-to-wear collection and flying discs for niche sports activity.

The Verdict: The collaboration, powered by an innovative camping experience, not only helped the two to activate their online followers to engage with the brand offline but also generated significant social buzz. The event video has over 21,600 Weibo views and the participants also shared numerous posts on Xiaohongshu. The initiative was a valid way to associate the brand with Gen Z’s popular hobbies. “It helps brands to capture this audience,” adds Houdart.

Elizabeth Arden x Gravity 

Chinese fashion and beauty influencers received an Elizabeth Arden frisbee as a PR gift. Photo: Weibo @Dear阿初

The Collaboration: Alongside its age-defying serum 2.0 PR gift box, beauty brand Elizabeth Arden created a flying disc with the Shanghainese frisbee club Gravity. Just like the skincare product, the frisbee was produced in a striking bright orange. 

The Verdict: Many fashion and beauty influencers, like @唐艺然Emma, @马修_MX, and @Dear阿初, shared videos and pictures of the unboxing of Elizabeth Arden’s gift. According to Launchmetrics, the MIV (media impact value) of the summer surprise amassed an impressive $240,000 in value. The selection of colors — matching the packaging of the new skincare product — was also perfectly on brand. This shows an example of how brands that are not necessarily associated with sports can think out of the box and ride the wave. 

Ele.me x Keep 

Ele.me and Keep designed frisbees that could also serve as plates. Photo: Keep

The Collaboration: On August 8, or National Fitness Day, food delivery company Ele.me teamed up with sports app Keep to co-launch frisbees that could also serve as dishes. The series included six designs for hamburgers, pizzas, dumplings, and so on. The initiative aimed to encourage people to eat freely after practicing sports while also humorously making a play on the idea of food plates whizzing through the air. 

The Verdict: The cross-industry collaboration is a curious experiment between two business concepts one based on convenience and another that demands self-discipline. “The delivery has been criticized to cater to the ‘lazy economy.’ This campaign proves that Ele.me is not for the lazy, but for one with smarts that wants to better optimize their time to socialize and do sports rather than just ordering food for home delivery,” explains Houdart. The dual use of the frisbees has also amused netizens; in total, the tie-up’s MIV has reached $178,000 as per Launchmetrics’ figures. 

Frisbee might be just another fad. However, staying on top of this trend is vital for brands to look cool in the eyes of newness-driven young consumers. Businesses don’t necessarily need to develop products themselves; rather, by combining the collaboration hype with the frisbee enthusiasm, they can make one plus one bigger than two.

The column also features in Jing Daily’s weekly Collabs and Drops newsletter — a 360-degree lowdown on the world of collaboration. For more analysis on the latest collaborations, sign up here.

 

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Consumer Insights, Marketing