What Happened: In the wake of the rising popularity of outdoor sports such as cycling, skiing, trekking, paddle boarding, and paragliding — China’s public sector has pledged to provide infrastructure and more resources for outdoor activities.
According to a November 26 report by People’s Daily, China’s General Administration of Sport published a “2022-2025 Outdoor Sports Sector Development Plan” in late October. The plan calls for the sector to reach revenues of $420 billion (3 trillion RMB) and to raise a group of competitive outdoor sports companies by 2025 — creating 100 outdoor sports events by the same year.
China will designate parts of its national parks and nature reserves for outdoor sports and construct more support facilities. It will optimize its national logistics network so that bulky outdoor equipment can be easily shipped.
Notably, on November 21, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a national development guidance on camping, which was a first for the sector. The guidance encourages cities to designate public green spaces for same-day camping, while rural and sightseeing areas can establish larger camping bases.
Some regions have already taken action. This November, Beijing established 21 cycling routes with a total distance of 730 kilometers to boost its tourism. The routes have local cultural themes such as “Beijing Opera” and are paired with the shorter hiking routes.
The Jing Take: With the exception of winter sports, which skyrocketed in popularity during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, China’s outdoor lifestyle trend has been mostly fueled by demand from younger Chinese consumers. Busy Chinese Gen Zers and millennials increasingly turn to activities such as glamping, cycling, frisbee, and skateboarding for physical and spiritual well-being and to reconnect with nature outside of the city.
The recent initiatives from China’s public sector signal that it is exploring the lucrative potential of outdoor lifestyle trends. Per the sports administration’s calculation, by the end of 2021, over 400 million Chinese people were participating in outdoor sports.
Promoting outdoor sports is in line with China’s pursuit of high-quality growth. Besides driving consumption, it also supports national objectives such as alleviating rural poverty, improving public health, and promoting Chinese culture. The directives cite such activities can even boost “silver economy” by offering more hobbies for the elderly.
Meanwhile, luxury brands are no strangers to China’s outdoor sector. In the past, both Fendi and Arc’teryx have unveiled products at Chinese ski resorts, while Prada has introduced a camping collection. China’s public sector investment in outdoor sports adds new growth momentum to this niche as it encourages people of all age groups to embrace sports, which will propel the need for gear, outfits and other services.
Luxury houses can diversify product categories and expand price ranges to capitalize on the growing market. Moreover, to compete with emerging domestic brands, international brands should be innovative in terms of brand messaging and the experiences that they can offer, as Chinese consumers will favor brands that can demonstrate their cultural and unique takes on outdoor sports.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.