Gen Z’s changing consumption habits are reflected in China’s growing sports industries
09 26, 2021

Abbreviated from “Generation Z,” Gen Z refers to the generation of people who were born between 1995 and 2010. Raised in relative wealth, heavily exposed to the internet, and possessing more disposable income than previous generations, Gen Z is becoming a key consumer group for brands. According to a white paper discussing Gen Z’s consumption power, China’s Gen Z has over 49% more monthly disposable income than the country’s average. 

Members of Gen Z are more self-focused than prior generations, and care about personal health and well-being; this has made them a rising power in sporting goods consumption. Recent data shows that Chinese consumers born after 1995 have taken one fourth of China’s market share for sportswear and sports shoes.

Photo: Gen Z refers to the generation of people who were born between 1995 and 2010. Raised in relative wealth, heavily exposed to the internet, and possessing more disposable income than previous generations, Gen Z is becoming a key consumer group for brands.

The pandemic also brought greater public attention to health, well-being, and fitness. In 2021, China’s State Council published a five-year National Fitness Program that aims to increase the percentage of regularly exercising people to 38.5% by 2025, driving China’s sports industry revenue to 500 billion yuan (approximately US$77.46 billion). In the long-term, this Fitness Program will be a stimulus for China’s sportswear, equipment, diet, and related industries.

Consumption trends among young people have changed during the pandemic. A survey shows that more young people bought or showed interest in fitness equipment and motion-sensing gaming devices that facilitate both workouts and entertainment.

Photo: A survey shows that more young people bought or showed interest in fitness equipment and motion-sensing gaming devices that facilitate both workouts and entertainment

Meanwhile, online shopping is important to Gen Z: A substantial 39% of this generation’s purchases are made online. Similarly, as 5G cellular technology is replacing older 4G for mobile communications, more Gen Z consumers are using smartphones to shop, such that these devices now represent 75% of the generation’s online shopping. By comparison, only 16% of Gen Z uses laptops to make online purchases. 

Short videos are disrupting the market for long videos

Sports media platforms are also changing. The mobile internet is changing younger generations’ habits in watching sporting events. At the same time, a younger person’s schedule is becoming more fragmented than before. Short videos can be viewed at any time, feature precisely crafted content, and offer a sense of viewer participation. As a result, they’re gaining a lot of popularity among all generations, especially Gen Z, as people are encouraged by short video platforms to create and share individual content. 

Photo:The mobile internet is changing younger generations’ habits in watching sporting events

This trend and the pandemic greatly affected the sports industry, accelerating a noteworthy transformation: People gradually became accustomed to entertaining themselves at home. A recent survey shows that 56.8% of consumers enjoy watching short video highlights, 47.6% love sports documentaries, and 38.3% like watching sports news. High broadcast fees for sporting events have precluded some platforms from featuring long-form sports content, but short videos can provide previews of matches, highlight clips, and behind-the-scenes looks at star athletes, meeting the demands of multiple consumer groups. 

Photo:The scene of a basketball game

These emerging trends are also creating challenges and opportunities for various live streaming sports platforms in China. PP Sports is among them, and embarking on a transformative journey.  

Thanks to traffic generated from high-quality livestreams of sporting events, PP Sports has found ways to transform views into revenues. During the pandemic lockdowns, PP Sports launched a series of livestreamed workout lessons, helping to stimulate fitness equipment sales: Suning.com’s year-over-year fitness equipment sales increased by 269%. Dumbbells, hula hoops, and yoga mats were among the most popular fitness products — year-over-year sales increased by as much as 500%, 391% and 332%, respectively. 

According to PP Sports’ 2020 earnings report, over 6 million fans watched more than 50 games last year, and over 2 million fans watched over 100 games during the year. Also interesting: During 2020, more than 28 million fans browsed information while watching sporting events, with nearly 4 million users collectively posting a total of over 150 million comments. More than 600,000 products were sold during live broadcasts, and fans have become comfortable buying things while watching games. 

In 2020, PP Sports fully deployed a sports-focused retail solution, creating a one-stop service where fans can watch events, interact, and shop at the same time. Using Suning’s supply chain resources, PP Sports not only launched a mall with membership features, but also brought its own sports earpods, composition scales, and other sports-related products to consumers. 

Analysts expect the sports viewing market will provoke further content, management, and system-level changes like these, ultimately enabling a new stage of development. It’s clear that technology is inspiring more and distinctive business models for the sports industry, and simultaneously changing the consumption of sporting-related digital and physical content.

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