As China embraces peak snow season, with cities witnessing record-low temperatures this winter, skiing enthusiasts are gearing up for thrilling adventures.
Top ski destinations like Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Xinjiang are experiencing a surge in traffic — a trend markedly different from previous years. Tongcheng Travel data reveals a staggering 412 percent year-on-year increase in searches related to “ski” in December this year, indicating the nation's growing fascination with winter sports.
Amid China's growing winter sports fervor, outdoor apparel brands are seizing the moment. While many are resorting to livestreams, pop-up stores, celebrity endorsements, and collaborations to boost sales, industry leader Arc'teryx is embracing a distinctive strategy to herald the onset of peak ski season.
Breaking away from conventional marketing approaches, Arc'teryx launched a captivating branded documentary titled “The Taoism of Ski Mountaineering” on December 21, delving into the intricate relationship between skiers and the majestic snow-clad peaks. The film features three pairs of pro skiers, unraveling their unique mountain spirits through personal narratives.
The featured skiers individually underscore, through their personal narratives, that the mountainous terrain transcends being a mere stage for an elite lifestyle, and skiing extends beyond the curated 'highlight moments' presented on social media. The cinematic portrayal delves into the authentic values underpinning skiing — embracing freedom, assuming responsibility, and fostering a profound reverence for nature.
In alignment with Arc'teryx's core mountain values, the documentary spotlights the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature. The campaign has garnered significant attention on social media, amassing over 1.5 million views on Xiaohongshu. The film recorded over 16 million views in total across various platforms.
To understand Arc'teryx's robust growth in China and its unique market position, Jing Daily explores the evolution of the ski apparel sector and the brand's innovative marketing approach.
By 2025, China winter sports market is expected to welcome 50 million participants, elevating the sector to global preeminence. In 2016, the Chinese government recognized the market's potential and introduced the Winter Sports Development Plan (2016–2025), aiming to create a robust RMB 1 trillion ($147.4 billion) industry by 2025. The plan also includes cultivating interest for diverse winter sports among the Chinese population.
In 2021, authorities bolstered winter sports-themed tourism with the release of the Action Plan for the Development of Ice-and-snow Tourism (2021–2023). This concerted effort has set the stage for the rapid growth of winter sports infrastructure and catapulted skiing to the forefront of China's winter sports market. In 2021 alone, the skiing sector reached a valuation of RMB 35.1 billion ($5.1 billion) and is showing no signs of slowing.
Due to the rapid evolution of the skiing industry, there has been a surge in consumer demand for skiing equipment. According to December data from the Chinese e-commerce app Dewu, sales of skiing gear, including jackets, boots, helmets, goggles, gloves, and more, grew over 14 times compared to the preceding month. Notably, sales of skiing gear have registered a remarkable year-on-year increase exceeding 120 percent.
In recent years, outdoor and luxury brands have strategically deepened their footprint in the skiing sector, thereby supporting this upward trajectory. Nevertheless, with the maturation of skiing in China, consumer preferences have undergone a discernible change. For those inclined towards experiential pursuits, the prevalent choice is either leasing or acquiring entry-level products. Conversely, discerning professional snow enthusiasts find ostentatious designs inadequate.
As Zhang Yu'ang, the Head of the Business Operations Center at price tracker platform Smzdm, said in a media interview, "Veteran players are progressively transitioning to advanced or professional stages, necessitating the procurement of high-end products endowed with superior technological and technical prowess."
Arc'teryx, astutely discerning the unique pain points of this niche demographic, has positioned itself as a vanguard in catering to these distinctive requisites.
Though the allure of winter sports captivates the Chinese audience, the topic of how to stay safe on the slopes is often overlooked. As an adaptable and consumer-centric brand, Arc'teryx adheres to its brand philosophy of continuous improvement. The brand is dedicated to providing reliable equipment and cutting-edge technology while also advocating for a focus on skiing safety.
Arc'teryx's latest campaign, “The Taoism of Ski Mountaineering,” showcases its unparalleled professionalism, emphasizing product durability and functionality under challenging conditions. The featured Saber SV jackets in the campaign exemplify this commitment. Durable and stormproof, they are tailored for demanding terrain and severe conditions.
Beyond mere marketing, Arc'teryx actively engages in safety education through its Ski Safety programs at Arc’teryx Academies, sharing avalanche science and rescue techniques while emphasizing the crucial element of teamwork. Arc'teryx's holistic approach reflects its profound care for safety and its commitment to fostering a genuine connection between skiers and mountains. During the 2023–2024 snow season, the brand supported the Altay Avalanche Research and Education organization in Altay, Xinjiang, advocating for an exploration of nature in a calm and scientific manner.
Arc'teryx goes a step further, pledging to halve its environmental footprint and enhance its positive social impact. The ReBIRD program, which offers care, repair, and upcycling services, serves as a testament to the brand's dedication to long-term sustainability.
In recent years, Arc'teryx has focused on effectively communicating its brand values and culture to Chinese consumers. The brand's “No Wasted Days” campaign, launched in October, celebrates unconventional mountain journeys. An exhibition featuring short films commissioned by the brand toured major cities, engaging a broader audience.
Meanwhile, the Arc’teryx Academies provide a platform for outdoor sports enthusiasts to interact with top-notch players. Through workshops, clinics, seminars, and social events covering alpinism, backcountry skiing, running, and climbing, the program has successfully built a community-based brand on shared values.
Unlike brands solely focused on driving social buzz, Arc'teryx invests significantly in storytelling and community building. This strategic approach is attracting more participants to the outdoor sports sector and consolidating the brand's leading position in the ski apparel market.
In navigating the dynamic landscape of China's ski apparel sector, Arc'teryx's unique marketing strategies, commitment to professionalism, safety, sustainability, and community building set it apart. As the winter sports craze continues to gain momentum in China, Arc'teryx's agility and dedication to authentic engagement position it at the forefront of the industry, shaping the narrative of ski apparel and winter sports culture in the market.
Presented by Arc'teryx.