top of page
  • Writer's pictureLeaf Digital

Post-COVID Consumer Behavior and Opportunities in China's Health and Fitness Market

Updated: Jun 28

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly reshaped consumer attitudes and behaviors in China, particularly in the health and fitness sectors. As people became more aware of the importance of maintaining their health, various shifts have emerged, creating new opportunities for brands. This article delves into these changes, focusing on the long-term impacts and future prospects in China's health and fitness market.

Three Chinese people doing yoga in a park

China's Health and Fitness Market Transformations

The pandemic has heightened health consciousness across demographics. Gen Z and the elderly, in particular, have shown significant changes in health-related behavior.


  • Gen Z: Younger consumers are taking a proactive approach to their health. They are increasingly focused on preventive measures such as dietary supplements, nutritious foods, and fitness programs. This tech-savvy group heavily relies on digital health platforms and fitness apps to monitor their well-being. Social media trends and health influencers also play a major role in guiding their health choices.

  • Elderly Population: The aging population, often referred to as the silver economy, has a growing demand for elder-friendly health products and services. This includes chronic disease management and traditional Chinese medicine. The elderly are willing to invest significantly in health products, making them a crucial market segment.


Wellness and Preventive Care

There's a notable shift in the health market towards wellness and preventive care. Rather than just treating illnesses, people are increasingly focusing on maintaining their overall well-being. This trend is expected to drive the health market to approximately RMB 16 trillion by 2030.

As depicted in the graph above, the market size for health-related products and services in China has shown a steady growth trajectory from 2019 to 2024. This growth underscores the increasing consumer investment in health and wellness, driven by heightened awareness and preventive care practices.


Digital Healthcare

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online healthcare services. Telemedicine, digital consultations, and e-pharmacies have become more common, making healthcare services more accessible and convenient for a wider population. This digital transformation means more people can get medical advice and services without leaving their homes.


Opportunities for Brands in Health Market

To effectively meet the evolving needs of the Chinese market, brands must focus on developing and promoting targeted products and services tailored to specific demographics.


For Young Consumers

Young consumers, particularly those from Gen Z, are proactive about their health. They favor preventive measures such as dietary supplements, nutritious foods, and fitness programs. Brands can tap into this market by:


  • Leveraging Digital Platforms: Use social media and digital health platforms to reach this tech-savvy group. Platforms like WeChat, Douyin, and Xiaohongshu are ideal for marketing health products and services.

  • Incorporating Social Media Marketing Strategies: Engaging with influencers and health trends on social media can boost visibility and trust. Creating content that resonates with young consumers, such as fitness challenges or wellness tips, can drive engagement and sales.


For the Elderly

The aging population, often referred to as the silver economy, presents a significant opportunity for brands focusing on health products and services. To cater to their specific needs, brands should:


  • Develop Elder-Friendly Products: Focus on products that address chronic disease management and promote traditional Chinese medicine. These products should emphasize safety, efficacy, and ease of use to gain the trust of elderly consumers.

  • Highlight Benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine: This demographic has a strong preference for traditional remedies. Products that integrate traditional Chinese medicine with modern health solutions can appeal to their cultural preferences and health needs.


Innovations through AI and Technology

AI technology offers exciting opportunities for brands in the healthcare sector. By streamlining processes and enhancing efficiency, companies can innovate and improve service delivery. The AI healthcare market is projected to grow significantly, providing numerous avenues for AI-driven health solutions.


Collaborations with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)

Influencers and KOLs on platforms like WeChat and Weibo play a crucial role in shaping consumer preferences. Partnering with these influencers can help brands reach a wider audience and build trust within the market. Collaborations can significantly influence purchasing decisions and boost brand visibility.


Fitness Market Dynamics: Sportswear and Fashion

The fitness market in China has witnessed remarkable growth, driven by rising health consciousness and government initiatives like the Healthy China 2030 Plan. This initiative has encouraged physical activity and wellness, leading to a boom in the fitness industry, particularly in sportswear and athleisure fashion.


Rising Health Consciousness

The middle class in China is increasingly embracing fitness, driven by a growing awareness of health and wellness. Government initiatives have played a crucial role in promoting an active lifestyle, leading more people to incorporate regular exercise into their daily routines. This health consciousness is expanding the market for fitness-related products, including sportswear.

As the figure illustrates, there has been a significant increase in the percentage of people over 19 years old who regularly engage in sports activities. This increase, from 18.7% in 2018 to a projected 38.5% in 2025, highlights the growing trend towards fitness and active lifestyles among the Chinese population.


Popular Fitness Activities

China’s fitness landscape is diverse, with activities such as running, basketball, badminton, swimming, and yoga gaining popularity. This variety caters to different interests and fitness levels, engaging a broad audience. The market size for sports and fitness reached $7 billion in 2022, showcasing its robust growth potential. Fitness studios, gyms, and outdoor sports facilities are becoming increasingly common, further supporting this trend.

As shown in the figure above, the primary purposes for engaging in fitness activities include losing weight, body shaping, stress relief, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The diversity in fitness purposes reflects the multifaceted nature of consumer motivations and the broad appeal of fitness activities.


Sportswear and Athleisure Boom

The demand for sportswear and athleisure has surged as fitness becomes more integrated into daily life. Athleisure, which combines fashion and functionality, is particularly popular. This trend reflects a shift towards clothing that can be worn both for exercise and casual activities. Brands like Nike and Adidas, along with local players like Li Ning and Anta, are capitalizing on this trend, offering stylish yet functional apparel.


Influence of KOLs in Fitness Fashion

Social media influencers, or Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), have a significant impact on customer behavior in the fitness industry. These influencers often share their fitness routines, product endorsements, and health tips on platforms like WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin. Collaborations with fitness influencers can greatly enhance market presence and consumer engagement, driving the adoption of healthier lifestyles and boosting sales of sportswear and athleisure products.


Strategies for Success

To thrive in the evolving Chinese health and fitness markets, brands must employ effective strategies.


Understanding Local Preferences

Brands must tailor their products to local tastes and preferences, incorporating cultural elements and recognizing popular local sporting events. Understanding what resonates with Chinese consumers is key to building a successful brand presence.


Building Brand Recognition

Establishing a strong brand identity that resonates with Chinese consumers is crucial. Campaigns that empower and engage local communities can boost brand loyalty. By creating a sense of community and belonging, brands can strengthen their connection with consumers.


Leveraging E-commerce

Utilizing digital marketing and e-commerce platforms is essential for reaching a broad audience. Personalized experiences and live-streaming can enhance consumer interaction and sales. E-commerce platforms like Tmall and JD.com offer vast potential for brands to showcase their products and reach diverse consumer segments.


Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly reshaped consumer attitudes and behaviors in China, creating opportunities for brands in the health and fitness markets. Emphasizing wellness, leveraging technology, and engaging with consumers through digital platforms and influencers can help brands succeed in this dynamic landscape. By understanding and adapting to these long-term shifts, brands can tap into the growing demand and contribute to the overall health and well-being of Chinese consumers.

Comments


bottom of page