Italian Shoes Made in China

Most of us do not associate "Made in China" with luxury or designer brands but more and more of those fancy Italian shoes you like so much are actually made in China. You just may not find a tag inside the shoe saying so.

ESPecially in the current economic market, the sales of luxury items have decreased significantly and some designer brands are suffering. One of the most effective ways to cut costs is to move the base of operation overseas, and China provides one of the most appealing markets to set up shop.

The fact that "American" or "European" shoes are made in China is no secret. Nike has long been associated with "Made in China" shoes; in fact, approximately one in three of Nike's sneakers come with a "Made in China" sticker. This compromise is trickier for designer brands such as Chanel, Prada and Armani that have built the success of their brand on "European craftsmanship" through and through. One of the reasons that someone might spend an extra 300 dollars on a Prada shoe is that they want a piece of artisanal Europe. They want to believe that what they are purchasing is the real deal – an Italian leather shoe built by someone who knows and loves the art of shoemaking, not by a factory worker in China.

So which companies have jumped continents? Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Bally and Prada, to name a few brands. But not all of these companies are willing to publicize this new base of operation. In fact, in some of these shoes you will find a "Made in Italy" label where perhaps a "Made in China" label should be instead. This is possible thanks to some very flexible labeling laws which base a product's label on the final point of production. So shoes made in China will have a leather sole attached in Italy and Voila! The shoes are legally "Made in Italy".

That is not to say that these shoes are worse quality now than when they were manufactured in Europe. The claim is that workers in China are fast and precise. That is, they are capable of making equally high-quality shoes just in less time and for less money.

According to Giorgio Bonacarso – a chemical supplier who sells products to Chinese factories that manufacture Italian shoes – nine out of 10 of the high-end Italian shoe companies are now making at least part of their shoes in China. You, the consumer, may not be aware of it, and that is because the designer brands are afraid of backlash and losing the image that made them stand out from the pack in the first place.



Source by Jane Baron

New Jewelry Trends in China Highlight Tradition and Style

The world is seeing changes continuously in association with advancement and the jewelry industry also works with the same strategy. Conversely, there are some rules that have remained constant, despite the changes in the jewelry industry and are the trends.

China is the largest consumer of jewelry that the gold jewelry stood to 30% of the gold global jewelry demand. Today, China is viewed by robust trends in industrialization, urbanization and economic growth. It has led to rising levels. The robust income level growth may result in 20% growth in Chinese private sector by 2017 for gold demand in comparison to 2013 demand.

The Chinese market targets glamor and luxury in jewelry. The new jewelry trends is in association with rapid urbanization, sophisticated young generation shoppers, flourishing middle class and all these together indicate exciting opportunities to increase in China for the new jewelry trends.

Jewelry is a luxurious product and a girl's best friend is the diamond jewels. This is applicable in the Chinese market as well. Chinese also adore diamonds, particularly the working women. Jewelry is made here for daily wear, gifting and for special occasions.

The jewelry making tradition in China goes back to the Neolithic Period, that when worn representative animal pendants denoting talismanic properties. In the recent few years, the jade clasps like jewelry became means belts buckle, while the women took it to their hair as hairpins as gold jeweled ornamental.

Pendants and hairpins have not stepped down the jewelry trends in China. They are the fine jewelry dominant forms and these pins are glided in silver and also feature rich gold beading. Some have bird motifs decorating the surfaces with pearls and gems using as accents in patterns.

The garment plaques in gold as rectangular or square brooches are seen as adornments and they come with images of traditional Chinese iconography crammed. While, gemstones border and dot the jewelry interior that has openwork and chased gold.

Solid gold is also in demand as the new jewelry trends in China and it is seen as gold bands returned to as armlets on women's arms. The jewelry we associate today with China was from the Victorian Era and now Jade has become the Chinese jeweler's trademark, while coral carved into animals shapes and flowers also have become important materials.

A mineral referred to as cinnabar, features a reddish pigment and is commonly used in lacquerware. It is carved for pendants and bangles, while oxbone is used in China to imitate ivory to do necklaces beading and openwork on earrings.

Costume Jewelry also made the finest pieces as they include hand-crafted pieces. This had Swarovski crystals plating the metal and was studded in 18-carat gold hand rings or bracelets. Interlocking crystals were the hallmark of costume jewelry, same as the Japanese faux pearls and turquoise tiny seed pearls that held a special glaze as it was glass covered multiple times.



Source by Karen K Williams

What to Expect from 2019 in Chinese Spending Outside of China


2018 was a year of intense change in cross-border China retail, marked by rapidly evolving consumer trends, as well as enhanced services and solutions to aid and delight global Chinese shoppers.

As the co-founder of China Luxury Advisors (CLA) — a global consultancy that advises and works collaboratively with luxury brands, tourism boards, destinations, and upmarket retailers on their China consumer strategies — we expect to see continued growth in the number of Chinese overseas travelers in 2019 but also anticipate accelerated changes in key consumer travel behavior and spending patterns.

We expect the number of outbound Chinese tourists to increase, but the average spending amount per trip should continue to decline slightly. Global brands and retailers will be watching market trends like these, but the industry will also increasingly look towards governments around the world for hints at forward-looking trends such as China’s “daigou” crackdown, the US-China trade war, China’s economic policies, changes in tourist visa policies, and exchange rate fluctuations.

But with fewer than 10 percent of Chinese citizens holding passports, one thing is certain: traveling Chinese consumer spending is positioned for long-term growth. The Chinese domestic luxury market is expanding rapidly — posting greater than 20 percent growth each year for the last two years. And the impetus for buying overseas is constantly shifting, requiring brands and retailers to innovate and optimize their global offerings to retain a share of this hotly contested market.

With that said, here are trends we would prioritize in 2019:

Global prices will further align, and the price gap between luxury goods in China and other countries will continue to shrink. This trend has already taken hold over the past two years, and we expect price gaps to continue to narrow after industry leaders such as Chanel and Burberry have taken action to narrow the price gap between China and the rest of the world, setting the trend for other luxury brands to follow.

Chinese tourists will venture off the beaten path to visit new destinations. We predict that experienced travelers will increasingly shun the guided tour system, take firm control of their itineraries and visit exciting locations that are sure to make their friends back home swoon. In a recent report by China Luxury Advisors and Coresight Research, we saw a surge in the proportion of respondents who had made all their own arrangements and traveled completely independently (without a tour guide) on their latest trip, from 20.7 percent last year to 26.8 percent this year. That bumped independent travel ahead of package tours as the second-most-popular option after group travel. Travelers from tier-one cities are leading the charge in independent travel.

O2O (online-to-offline) will dominate the consumer experience. By 2025, a Bain & Co. study shows that 100 percent of Chinese consumers will seek inspiration online before purchasing offline. We anticipate 2019 to be the year that overseas retailers close the loop between online and offline with traveling Chinese consumers — adopting mobile payment options, offering in-language customer service, deploying innovative customer experiences and creating branded gamification to connect with these global consumers at the point of purchase.

Unique products not available in China will outsell products that are more broadly available. As price disparity narrows, Chinese travelers are not only motivated by price anymore — they are seeking unique products not available in China when they shop overseas. Whether these are limited edition products from top global brands, niche brands not yet in China or local products from museums or local artists, Chinese consumers will gravitate towards hard-to-find products to bring back to China.

Chinese apps will continue to expand their location-based media and advertising options. As platforms from WeChat to Dianping enhance their location-based media targeting capability, brands and retailers are increasingly able to pinpoint consumers before, during and after their travels, allowing for more targeted messages and engagement with these consumers. We expect brands and retailers to become more sophisticated in reaching these consumers with relevant, focused messaging throughout their travel experience.

Little Red Book will become an even more integral part of customer’s overseas shopping research. In addition, the platform’s most recent tie-in with Taobao will make their social content even more directly linked with e-commerce. We believe that brands and retailers should be scouring Little Red Book and other travel and shopping forums to understand what Chinese consumers really think of them.

Brands will increasingly collaborate with Chinese celebrities and KOLs to co-create products and experiences. Brands and retailers can no longer sit back and wait for Chinese tourists to come to their destination and buy their globally hot-selling products. They have to actively court this consumer and create connection points for new collections and products. Celebrity and KOL collaborations remain the most direct path to make these connections. As research firm L2 found, social media posts on Chinese platforms that mention a celebrity account for 96 percent of all fashion brand engagement on Weibo and 88 percent of watch and jewelry engagement.

The views expressed in this story are solely the opinions of the author.





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How to Market Luxury Products and Increase Market Share in Asian Countries

Your product is considered a luxury product, but just because your product is a luxury brand does not guarantee it will sell well in Asian markets. Despite this obvious fact, many companies launch products into market with fallacious conclusions and skewed strategic plans and often fail in implementing their business objectives. These companies develop broad conclusions on how they should approach economies on the macro-level but fail to execute the results because they do not see the details in the micro-level. Many leaders may even suffer from "change blindness" because they focus on one aspect of the business and all its players, yet miss the 800 pound gorilla in the room. In order to avoid these obstacles, leaders must develop an objective approach to a more analytical perception of reality and all its intracies. This article is the spectacular that will clarify and break down the important details of consumer behaviors in Asia's largest markets: China and Japan. Although these two countries have different tastes they both have an increasing demand for luxury goods. Companies that make luxury brands are increasing their investments and gaining market share despite a world that is in an economic downturn. It is therefore, imperative for companies to penetrate these emerging markets to gain their own market share and have a planned strategy to execute clear strategic vision.

In marketing, the goal is to find what people want and what people are buying and developing a strategy to deliver results to consumers and increase market share. The Asian market can be complex; however, there are similarities and trends one can identify to capitalize on a growing consumer segment. The challenge is that many US companies miss the mark in trying to penetrate Asian markets because they approach the market with a broad brush hiring that some good ideas will stick. One major fallacy is that US companies group all three countries together and assume that they all have similar tastes and preferences, moderated by different income levels. The solution, therefore, is to perform a comparative analysis of consumer behaviors can help companies identify effective marketing strategies, and enable them to successfully penetrate these Asian markets.

To ensure success, companies must set aside narrow and risky liabilities, and tailor country specific strategies to target these consumers. The two major countries to target for luxury brands are Japan and China. Both countries have unique mechanisms that correlate to buying behaviors such as:

(1) brand orientation

(2) aspects dealing with domestic vs. foreign

(3) quality and price.

Brand Orientation

First, Japan of all developed countries, this is the most brand-conscious and status-conscious. It is also intensely style-conscious: Consumers love high-end luxury goods (especially products from France and Italy), purchasing items such as designer handbags, shoes, and jewelry. It seems that a slump economy has not inhibited its consumers. Japan has a highly group-oriented consumers are apt to select prestigious merchandise based on social class standards, and prefer products that enhance their status. Correspondingly, they attach more importance to the reputation of the merchandise than to their personal social classes. Japan's influence has spread to surrounding countries such as China and Korea. In Shanghai or Seoul, you can see the influence of Japan's fashion trends and products (Jiang, Crystal and Kotabe, Masaaki, 2006).

China, rough 10 million – 13 million Chinese consumers prefer luxury goods. The majority of them are entrepreneurs or young professionals working for foreign multinational firms. Recent studies found that 24% of the population, mostly in their 20s and 30s, prefer new products and consumers technology important part of life. With higher education and purchasing power, this generation in brand and status conscious. It considers luxury goods to be personal achievements, bringing higher social status. In China, purchasing behavior tends to vary regionally. Consumers in metropolitan areas follow fashions / trends / styles, prefer novelty items, and are aware of brand image and product quality. These consumers live on the eastern coast-in major cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Dalian.

Domestic vs. Foreign

Second, Japan, although is mostly dominated by local companies that are well established such as Canon, Sony, and Toyota, many global companies have managed to gain market share. In this market, Haagan Dazs Japan Inc succeeded the exit of Ben and Jerry's, dominating the premium ice cream market with a 90% market share. It has successfully delivered the message of a "lifestyle-enhanced product" with word-of-mouth advertizing. The company flourished by promoting high quality with local appeal (Jiang, Crystal and Kotabe, Masaaki, 2006). Chinese companies can not longer view this country's youth through the lens of traditional cultural values' this generation considers international taste a key factor in making decisions (Jiang, Crystal and Kotabe, Masaaki, 2006).

Quality and Price

Thirdly, Japan compared with the Chinese and Korean consumers, have much higher expectations for products-and are willing to pay premium prices for them. Slogan such as Walmart's "everyday low price" philosophy does not seem to attract Japanese consumers, because they offer associate low price to low quality: yasu-karou, warukarou-cheap price, cheap product. Case study – McDonalds although McDonalds is known as a low cost food in the US. McDonlads in Japan has positioned itself a luxury item. Today, McDonalds Japan has grown to become the country's largest fast-food chain (Jiang, Crystal and Kotabe, Masaaki, 2006).

Business leaders need to embarrass three important concepts in order to have a successful marketing campaign.

• Successful products must be FBI: Functional Design – Beautiful Results – Imaginative Style

• Sticking to your strategy and values ​​in an economic recession

• Be a thinking leader – Stick to your values ​​and redirect marketing strategy focus.

In the mist of the global recession, companies are focusing on the emerging Asian markets, focusing on customer loyalty through mind-care marketing that focuses on building trust with their current customer base. For many companies, turning to Asia for growth has also paid off. Many companies are investing more than 60 percent of their investments in Asia Pacific.

In conclusion, company executives must remember that not all countries are created equally. By understanding and learning to appreciate the differences and the similarities between these three Asian purchasing giants, companies from other countries can immerse their organizations seamlessly.



Source by Joshua Cook

Chinese Men’s Surprising Online Shopping Lists


While the “She-conomy” (她经济) in China has thrived, its counterpart, the “He-conomy” — or to be more specific, male consumer consumption — has also been growing, albeit quietly. Aiming to better understand this market, Taobao released a sweeping report summarizing male consumer purchases made on the retail platform in the 12 months ending November 30, 2018. The report covers categories like apparel, beauty and skincare, and tech gadgets, as well as personal care products.

Here’s what Jing Daily learned from the report:

1. Men are fashionistas, too

Thanks to the growing popularity of hip-hop music in China, sales of hip-hop-related fashion products zoomed by 420 percent on Taobao in the period. “Streetwear” is taking advantage of this trend as the styles share similarities, with sales increasing 185 percent in the same period. Among the popular streetwear brands (including the big international runway brands) that found success in 2018, Chinese domestic streetwear was a surprising contender, as domestic companies garnered over 40 million web searches and increased sales by 270 percent year-on-year.

2. They care about their personal image

Chinese men today are paying more attention to their professional and formal looks, as well as their casual daily wardrobes. Three-piece suits are becoming more popular, and cufflinks sales jumped by 27 percent this year. Other than simply putting more thought into their attire, Chinese men also have become more aware of overall fitness. Working out is now a part of their daily lifestyle, and men are buying more at-home workout equipment than in previous years. But they’re also aware of nutrition in their quests to look and feel better, and sales of health-related items like protein powder have steadily risen.

3. Men moisturize

Sales of male beauty products, like anti-wrinkle face creams and moisturizers, increased by 140 percent over the past year. Even sales of male makeup have exploded, with the top three most popular makeup products being foundation, eyeliner, and concealer.

4. Post-’90s men want a healthy lifestyle

It’s almost time for China’s post-’90s men to enter their thirties, and they want to take care of wellness issues right away. Due to the pressures of work and education, men born in the 1990s are already suffering hair loss, in some cases earlier on average than their fathers did. In 2018, sales of hair restorer and anti-hair loss products on Taobao doubled from the previous year, and the majority of those consumers were millennials.

The report breaks down Chinese male consumption behavior neatly, but it also exposes some more general trends, such as the way that successful young, male superstars (aka “little fresh meat”) have led Chinese men to focus more on their daily attire and personal care. But it doesn’t end there. Chinese male consumers are also paying more for leisure activities, with a 10 percent increase in sales of skiing equipment and GoPro cameras, and a massive 260 percent year-on-year increase in purchases of drones and aerial devices.

Chinese men, especially the younger generations, simply seem to treat themselves better these days by taking care of their looks, health, wellness, and even their play time.





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Bottega Veneta’s China Ambition May Come Too Late


Bottega Veneta is playing catch-up in China. But are they too late?

On December 18, the Italian fashion veteran joined top-tier luxury brands such as Valentino and Ermenegildo Zegna by launching a flagship store on Alibaba’s Luxury Pavilion. It aims to carve out a bigger slice of the Chinese market as the brand steps up its expansion in the world’s second-largest economy.

The new store on Alibaba’s luxury portal will offer a wide range of products ranging from leather goods, apparel, footwear to jewelry & accessories and home décor, the brand said in a release on WeChat. To celebrate the launch, Bottega Veneta unveiled a limited edition “Luna” handbag (retail price at $2,560 or RMB 17,650), which is exclusively available on the platform. To further encourage consumers to place their first orders on Luxury Pavilion, it opted to gift the first 30 customers whose purchases exceed $1,160 (RMB 8,000) with signature intrecciato leather cardholders.

Bottega Veneta became just the latest high-profile luxury player to join Luxury Pavilion, following in the high-heeled footsteps of industry competitors such as Givenchy, Stella McCartney, Valentino, and Zegna. The platform, launched by Alibaba in late 2017, has acquired more than 100,000 users whose average spending on the site has reached a staggering $159,000 (RMB 1 million), according to the company.

Since 2015, China’s personal luxury goods market has embarked on an exceptional growth thanks to the entry of affluent Chinese millennial and Gen-Z consumers. However, Bottega Veneta’s performance in the Chinese market over the past three years has bucked the bullish trend, often being outshined by its peers like Gucci and Saint Laurent from the same parent company Kering Group.

Though no specific sales data was available from the company, certainly the visibility and popularity of the brand among Chinese luxury shoppers have been low compared to other brands in recent years. Globally, its sales started to slow in 2015, falling nearly 10 percent to $1.4 billion in 2016 and remaining constant in 2017.

This year, the brand divorced its long-time creative head Tomas Maier and hired fresh young designer Daniel Lee, with the hope of bringing innovation. Lee’s debut Pre-Fall 2019 collection, revealed last week, received positive reviews from the fashion industry, with many believing that this Celine alum is likely to fill the void in a market that is missing Phoebe Philo’s old Céline so much.

Bottega Veneta’s launch on Luxury Pavilion is poised to facilitate the brand attempt to gain more visibility and generate sales from the Chinese market. Since earlier this year, the brand has also started to localize their offerings in the market, including hiring a popular Chinese brand ambassador Jackson Yee, opening more retail stores in lower-tier cities like Harbin, Changsha, and Xi’an, and utilizing the WeChat commerce channel to sell to online consumers.

Of course, a strategy of being slow and steady in a foreign market can never go too wrong, especially with a heritage brand like Bottega Veneta. Nonetheless, as the whole luxury industry starts to feel the pain from political uncertainties and economic slowdown, it will no longer be as easy as it used to be for brands to profit in China.





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Chinese Silver Jewelry Trends Express an Inimitable Style

China, in the past 3 decades has converted into the most developed cities economically and this is identical from the countless progress it has been doing along the way. One such is the silver jewelry market that deals with manufacturing and also trading. This is also with diamonds and gold. In fact, 24 carat pure gold is in high demand as Chinese favor pure gold.

The beauty is in the fact that Chinese silver jewelry trend gives more respect to the designs and present a strong emphasis of their culture. The designs, color, size and shape are taken as a combination reflecting their culture, while the designs reflect the concepts of contemporary and traditional, taking in techniques of mechanical design and it also dazzles a storyline connecting each piece.

The silver jewelry trend is high as it is cheaper than other precious metals and gems. The jewelry offers a periodic transformation and often it relates to the latest designs and fashion trends. There are common interests shared such that it reflects heritage in each piece and appear identical. The jewelry such as earrings have designs that are snake inspired. In fact, peacock also has a very special place in Chinese silver jewelry. The bangles and earring are inspired and buyers can choose topaz, sapphire or diamond to set in the feathers of the peacock. The jewelry that comes as a set is so beautiful with diamonds that it can also be worn separately.

Silver jewelry or any other jewelry for that matter in china has themes to inspire people or is an inspiration from some movie, architecture or ancient fairy tale. The jewelry sets are based on Chinese fairy tales revealing the characters of honesty, mercy, boldness and greed. Jade is also highly preferred in silver jewelry in china as it symbolizes elegance.

The talents and interests of jewelry designers are such that there is an extensive range of collection. You can get designs from mid-range to high-end and also for regular use from the commercial markets to suit all the market levels. The butterfly pendant is popular as ever amongst the young adults and teenagers alike. Women adorn their hair with butterfly hairpin and this also is the symbol of love loyalty. The craftsmanship is so apt that the butterfly dangling is easy to detach and to be worn as pendant.

Generally, most Chinese silver jewelry designs refer to nature or traditional Chinese paintings. There are lots of patterns and colors, reminding buyers of a painting, a scene or some poem. Fish is also an integral part of Chinese jewelry design trend. The Chinese jewelry designers give utmost importance to the carving that these precious metals and their craftsmanship express an inimitable style.

Chinese silver jewelry in the recent decades is showing rapid growth in the jewelry market. They also have gained international prominence. The craftsmanship is time-honored and even the luxury market find the Chinese jewelry trend to be unique and even independent designers are coming with high-end design services beholding their valued traditions.



Source by Karen K Williams

Chinese Consumers Becoming More Discerning: Nielsen and Vipshop


Many brands and e-tailers are feeling the pinch from the Chinese economic slowdown. A new report from Nielsen, co-produced with Vipshop and Tencent News, finds some surprising silver linings in small towns.

Data from the e-commerce platform Vipshop (known for selling luxury goods at discounted rates) and from Nielsen on over 2,000 consumers from November 17 to November 25, found a common theme: 75 percent of respondents listed “cost-effectiveness” as a top factor influencing their shopping decision. But there were striking differences between consumers who reside in first- and lower-tier cities.

Traditionally, the first-tier cities in China are often recognized as the more economically developed regions. Compared to smaller cities, residents in first-tier cities are exposed to the latest trends and more foreign brands — they are affluent and sophisticated shoppers. However, the report points to a reverse trend: first-tier city consumers tend to be rational shoppers and are more sensitive to pricing, but lower-tier cities’ consumers are upgrading their shopping choices and moving to premium brands.

This change, concluded by the managing director of the Shanghai-based marketing agency China Skinny, Mark Tanner, is a result of first-tier cities being further along the consumer maturity curve, as a premium product is less of a novelty but still seen as aspirational by lower-tier city consumers. The high cost of living also has a bearing on many first-tier consumers’ behavior, “particularly those who aren’t fortunate to live with their parents and have to cover high rents, food and beverage and more costly lifestyle temptations from their own wages,” said Tanner.

Another surprise: value-conscious consumers are increasingly looking to homegrown Chinese brands. The report gave the sales of cell phones as an example — from January 2017 to January 2018, the sales volume of Huawei mobile phones in first- and second-tier cities on the Vipshop platform grew 96.3 percent and 61.68 percent year-on-year respectively, which far outpaced iPhone sales growth.

Even so, attitudes towards homegrown brands differ among first- and lower-tier cities. First-tier city consumers still remain skeptical about the quality of local brands, the data showed.

In terms of discount approaches consumers like, offering immediate discounts off original prices is most preferred, as many respondents agreed with the statement: “I don’t like complex discount campaigns.” More male than female consumers like to purchase high-priced items during the promotional season. Female residents in second-tier cities particularly like to access promotions through social media.

With more than half of all luxury consumers living outside the top 15 cities, the takeaway seems to be that luxury brands and retailers can’t afford to ignore consumers in China’s smaller cities.





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China’s New Health & Fitness Influencers Promote Body Positivity


While no shortage of viral fitness-related social media posts has emerged from China in recent years, many have been deemed by outside observers as a “worrying” to a downright ridiculous take on body image. From comparing waist size to an A4 piece of paper to seeing how many coins will balance on the collarbone, going to great lengths to achieve or show off a thin figure has been a common stereotype for Chinese women. But there’s good news: the newest generation of health and fitness influencers have very different ideas on exercise and wellbeing that they’re spreading to a wealth of eager followers.

Fitness has been a rising focus for the KOL community in China thanks, in part, to a nationwide push for healthier lifestyles. The country is in the midst of a five-year fitness plan outlined by the government that would, if successful, see the nation spending 1.5 trillion yuan ($225 billion) on sports and fitness by 2020, with about half a million people participating in fitness by that same year. This bid, combined with a search for solutions to environmental and food safety concerns, has resulted in an explosion of gyms, juice bars, healthy eateries, and, of course, fitness KOLs, especially in China’s first and second-tier cities.

Increasingly, millennials with rising incomes are spending big bucks on gym memberships and healthy lifestyles, and they’re sharing their experiences online, not only on WeChat and Weibo, but on Xiaohongshu and social fitness apps like Keep, which boasted more than 100 million users by August of last year. For women, yoga and running are among the activities rising in popularity, but Cross Fit and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) are also trending. In all of it, new role models are emerging, ones that promote a balanced, healthy lifestyle, toned bodies, and community.

Fitness culture in China is arguably still a ways off from being completely in sync with Western ideals of body positivity, yet there are more examples of female health and fitness influencers sharing their personal journeys of coping with body image in a society that often shames young women for not having a slim figure. Signs of a potential slight shift in mindset around beauty ideals were even apparent during China’s Produce 101 female idol reality show, where one top contestant, Wang Ju, didn’t fit the bai shou mei or “white, thin and beautiful” gold standard for women in China, according to The New York Times.

So what does the fitness revolution in China look like from an influencer’s perspective? Below, we get to the heart of what makes Chinese health and fitness influencers tick.

It starts with a change in lifestyle

Sammi G got into the influencer game after being “overconsumed” by a stressful career in the advertising industry. “I was unhealthy: I lost my shape and suffered from gastrointestinal pain,” she told ParkLu. “I also suffered from insomnia for almost two years, so I felt unhappy and depressed. After going through all of that, I decided to take a break from my busy work and social schedule. I picked up my regular workout routines and committed to a healthy diet.”

After two years, Sammi felt like she finally managed the more balanced lifestyle she was striving for and she noticed that people around her were starting to take note of her change. “I realized I should share my positive energy and vibes to the people who appreciate fitness and lifestyle all over the world, so I started to tell my stories online.”

Now, Sammi boasts more than 71K followers on Instagram and 28K on Weibo. Her posts are a mix of lifestyle shots, workout equipment and sharing secrets to a toned figure with functional training activities for the core and lower body, like F45 (45-minute functional training classes), weightlifting, cardio, and HIIT.

Popular fitness duo Giselle and Weiya also got their start after recognizing their unhealthy relationship with beauty and losing weight. “Like a lot of Asian girls, we wanted to be ‘super skinny’ and tried almost all ways to achieve this, including a super strict diet (almost nothing) and supplements,” Weiya told ParkLu. “Giselle started to get a quite serious binge eating disorder in college in Canada. In fighting with it, she realized how to accept who she is and make peace with herself.”

When the women graduated from university, they moved back to Beijing and got in on the gym craze right away, opening their own on the side in 2017. Giselle’s first social media post, “48kg to 65kg: My Personal Story” gained 100k views in one night.

“We realized how much we can do to help other girls, and decided to quit our jobs and become full-time gym owners and health and fitness influencers,” Weiya explained. “Our positioning is to share our personal stories about mistakes we made, our change in mindset, and how we now live a healthy lifestyle.”

Giselle and Weiya Fit4life social media account now boast 2.8 million fans over Weibo, WeChat, fitness app Keep, and Little Red Book, and have since opened a second gym in June.

New definitions of healthy

Women are often inclined to share their workout experiences on social media, and many are not afraid to bare toned abs and strong glutes to their followers. These images are the new markers of success in a millennial generation that increasingly values nutrition and health over consumable goods.

“The focus of Chinese health and fitness KOLs is starting to shift from how to look ‘slim’ to how to look healthy and curvy,” Sammi explains. “This is what I’m trying to convey to my followers.”

“Women surely want to keep a beautiful figure, but at the same time, women are willing to challenge themselves,” she continued. “Self-confidence and public image are some of the biggest motivations towards getting fit.”

Weiya cautions that many women are still motivated primarily by “looking better,” but perspectives are shifting. “Most people still like the “top model” body image—super skinny, pale skin, and long legs,” she said, “but more and more girls now like healthier body figures, with more defined muscles, a curvy figure and a darker skin color.”

It’s more than just health & fitness 

While there are plenty of health and fitness influencers in China that focus on primarily gym pictures and expertise in one discipline, others mix it up, creating opportunities for collaboration with not only fitness brands, but travel destinations, fashion labels, restaurants, and more.

Sammi’s content focuses on combining fitness travel and fit fashion. Some days, she’s posting beach images from her hotel in Thailand, others in a stylish crop top at luxury events like Audemars Piguet and Elle China, and yet others post workout in Nike attire or brunching in Shanghai. “It’s most important to me to communicate to my followers the fitness and lifestyle awareness and trends for a new generation of Chinese girls in Shanghai,” she said. “I mix trends from the East and the West.”

Her followers often want to know where she eats healthy food in Shanghai, where to buy bikinis, and what exotic destinations they should travel to.

“I want to combine fitness with travel as I don’t want to give the wrong impression to people that being fit means you need to live in a gym,” she said. “A good life/work/ workout balance is the key.  It’s all about getting fit in the gym and kitchen, and enjoying the results by dressing sexy, traveling sexy and partying sexy.”

Giselle and Weiya take their fitness coverage a step beyond functional training into activities that their followers can develop a lifetime passion for, like ballet and yoga. Weiya said 70 percent of her fans “know very little about exercise,” but are interested in achieving a well-rounded level of wellness—and the duo responds to fans’ demands with topics like “20 small things to boost your mood in the winter.”

To serve this wider audience, their formats are often similar to influencers in other categories—they make a point to do longer post formats on platforms like WeChat, and post shorter, simpler videos on Xiaohongshu, relaying easy-to-digest fitness knowledge one point at a time. They do plugs for brands outside of apparel, recommending products like electric toothbrushes and slow cookers, and even doing design collaborations.

Bada Chen, a fitness blogger with 22K followers on Weibo @Bada_C彦熹, says that though she has experience with fitness—she was a high jumper when she was a kid and then trained to get in shape to be a model—she defines herself as a lifestyle influencer, sharing a range of content that covers eating, lifestyle, fitness, and even beauty. “After all, I’m not a very professional coach,” she said.

Her posts vary from 8 to 15-minute long vlogs on her weekly fitness and wellness routines, to step-by-step demonstrations of yoga poses with written descriptions. She takes followers with her to the spa for her facials, walks them through her face mask rituals, and invites them in during a meal at home with friends.

Local brands align with health & fitness influencers

Nike and Adidas are among the leading brands in the spotlight of the sportswear craze, but health and fitness influencers are taking time to support smaller indie and domestic brands, catering to the more specific and unique demands of local followers.

Sammi works with Canadian activewear brands Titika sportswear and Aumnie, while also noting several big name brands on her feed. Giselle and Weiya have an annual partnership with Nike, they also support Titika as well as Australia’s Lorna Jane. They were also the first health and fitness influencers that Chinese activewear brand Maia active signed a contract with.

“Our followers are always seeking new brands with good quality and designs,” Weiya said, adding she thinks local brands are paying more attention to health and fitness influencer marketing opportunities and have a higher marketing budget. “Girls don’t want to wear the same outfit as everyone else, especially when the other girl looks better in that outfit. I’m really glad to see more and more local brands are making really good fitness apparel.”

 

This post originally appeared on ParkLu, our content partner site. 





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