In recent years, running has become a symbol of fashion in China. In the year 2016 alone, 328 marathon-related events were registered at the Chinese Athletic Association (CAA), almost 14 times more than 2011 (22 events). Accordingly, the number of participants reached 2.8 million last year, a six-fold increase since 2011, making the number of frequent runners reach over 10 million.
An untapped market
From a pair of running shoes to a suit of professional apparel, to personal training, to sports tourism…Running, as an emerging industry, has connected important elements in the Chinese sports market.
The running market in China has reached US $5 billion, according to research conducted by Hong Yongmiao, a professor from the School of Economics, Xiamen University. In other words, marathon running has accelerated the development of many industries, including event operations, sporting equipment, health insurance, medical treatment, tourism and the hotel industry.
“Although running is good for one’s health, it is necessary to protect yourself from being hurt, especially for the middle-aged and elderly. Professional sports apparels are a good choice.” Luo, a running fancier said, “I usually go through several running shoes every year, each costing about 500 yuan, let alone sports watches, clothes, leggings and arm wears.”
More frequent runners hope to participate in a marathon race. Each race costs approximately 2500 yuan in sportswear and several thousand yuan in transportation and accommodation. “many people have to pay up to 10,000 yuan annually for their running bills.”
According to a 2015 survey released by the CAA and Nielsen, the annual expenditure is 3601 yuan for an average Chinese runner and 4594 yuan for an experienced one who is attached to smart sporting devices.
Clearly, sporting brands are excited to see the rise of the running industry in China. As a salesman of a local sporting goods store said, “In recent years, running shoes have become customers’ favorite, and related sportswear has also become bestsellers.”
This positive influence has also expanded into the fields of tourism, internet and training. According to reports, there are nearly 150 running apps in China that have amassed an enormous amount of user information, which will help bring in considerable profits in the future.
Online stores are eyeing on a piece of cake in the industry. Dazzling and expensive products like energy gels, protein supplements, calorie tracking software and smart bands have become more and more popular among Chinese netizens.
Running training has evolved to meet these growing demands, as marathon training centers and personal trainers are raking in big bucks.
Moreover, to keep up with the rapid development, some Chinese companies are looking to increase their investment in the running business. For example, Chinese sportswear brand Anta has turned its focus toward wearable devices and launched its first smart running shoes last year.
Consequently, China aims to build up a 5 trillion-yuan industry by 2025 and also seeks to ensure that there is significant room for growth. Industry experts believe that running, as a popular and mass participation sport, is expected to create a huge boom for the most populous country in the world.
A win-win business
As stated in Chinese media reports, 39,599 participants of the 2016 Xiamen Marathon have an average of 2823.84 yuan in expenditures. Participants outside Xiamen, along with support staff have brought 111.82 million yuan for the sub-provincial city in southeastern Fujian, while another event, the 2016 Guangzhou Marathon has earned 100 million yuan out of entry fees alone.
According to official statistics, the 2016 Xiamen Marathon brought in RMB 230 million in direct revenue and RMB 325 million indirect returns, an increased 20.1% over the previous year.
The ever-increasing popularity of marathon events undoubtedly has attracted sponsors who are expecting more brand exposure.
A survey found that 60 percent of respondents think that running sponsors are more impressive for them, while 68 percent feel a growing appeal and 70 percent say they tend to buy a sponsor’s products. For most brands, partnering with a marathon event is definitely a win-win business.
That’s why the CAA calls on citizens to push for even more ambitious goals. That is, to boost the number of marathon and road running event to reach more than 800, attracting more than 10 million participants by 2020.
Proofread by William Logsdon