While places for exercise might have been limited in the year of pandemic, the desire for keeping fit never dies down. And this is particularly true among young Chinese women. Of a thousand female respondents, 72% continued their regular workout in the past year. 80% of whom exercise at least once every week, statistics released by Tmall and China Business Network shows.
The large interest from women in exercising has been driving the growth of the sports market in China. Sports products for women listed on Tmall and Taobao online shopping platforms have been increasing for the past three years. Women consumers contributed almost half of the sports consumption in 2020 with sports shoes leading the market while demand for sports clothing increasing at the fastest rate.
Such trend makes women an ideal target for sportswear brands. And Xtep is probably the one taking the initiative. In the middle of August, the Chinese sportswear brand announced Dilraba, one of the most beloved Chinese actresses to be its brand ambassador for the new series called Ban Tang, or “half sugar”. It refers to a neither too negative (苦kǔ, bitter), nor too worry-free (甜tián, sweet) lifestyle, which is also interpreted as a neutral but healthy lifestyle.
The announcement came after Dilraba being the only woman ranked in the top 5 by China Index for celebrities with the most commercial value in the second quarter of 2021. But on top of her huge fan base, the brand believes the idol’s “humble image with a positive energy” is a trait to attract female consumers and to deliver the values appreciated by the young generation, which makes her a role model for her young followers who are more likely to be motivated to buy products she represents.
The reaction seems to be phenomenal. Data recorded by Vfluencer shows the brand’s daily voice rocketed up on the day of the announcement and it has been outperforming that of its rivals since then. With a fan base of over 76M, the post of the top KOL Dilraba attracted millions of likes and shares. Of more than 400 other content relative to the ambassador announcement, 72% were generated by female users, including Gong Lijiao, the Chinese female shot putter who picked the gold medal at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
The move has also boosted the overall shared voices for Xtep. Data from Vfluencer shows its shares of voices on Weibo, China’s microblogging site, stood at 3.6% prior to the announcement and the figure jumped to nearly 70% afterward, beating Li Ning (20.5%) and Anta (6%).
Shares of Voices of major sports brands in China on Weibo before (above) and after (bottom) Xtep's announcement. Source: Vfluencer
The Ban Tang series together with its new brand ambassador is a fresh attempt by Xtep to win over women sports lovers, says a statement from Xtep. “With women leading the consumption of sports market in China, there is a growing demand for products that cater to young female customers, and the Ban Tang series is doing just that.”
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