Sports nutrition's China potential reinforced by latest Mintel findings
Major global brands have been ramping up their efforts in China over the past couple of years, and consumer interest in active lifestyles has increased.
In the past, many brands followed the local distributor model, but most are now setting up shop inside the country.
USCHPA executive director Jeff Crowther told us recently that a "hands-off" approach to China will not work due to rising competition in the sector.
"International brands like MuscleTech and Labrada now have Chinese investment. Brands like GNC, Optimum Nutrition, BSN, Isopure and Clean Machine all have offices in China and domestic companies like Competitor and By-Health’s brand Gymmax are moving ahead with investment and expansion," he said.
These firms will be buoyed by the latest Mintel survey, which found that running (39%) is overwhelmingly the most popular fitness activity with walking (6%) a distant second, and yoga (5%) rounding out the top three most common fitness activities done in the six months to May 2017. Further down the list are swimming and basketball (4% respectively), and cycling and fitness programmes in gyms (3%).
Nearly four in 10 (39%) consumers say reducing stress is their primary reason for exercising.
Alina Ma, senior lifestyle analyst at Mintel, said: "As the importance of emotional health is increasingly acknowledged, more consumers are eating healthy food and participating in sports / exercising not just for health but to induce happy feelings.
"When it comes to exercise preference, our research shows that activities requiring a higher level of physical movement and strength, as well as outdoor sports, are more appealing to men, while activities that build flexibility and tone body shape, including many indoor sports, are more attractive to women.
"Brands interested in targeting health- and fitness-focused consumers would do well to educate users on the benefits of their products and services, as well as offer multiple solutions for the varying needs of different fitness levels and interests."
Crowther added that potential new players in the sector would need to be 100% committed to China.
"Sports nutrition is beginning to mature in China," he said.
"New players to the market will have to invest, be hands-on and involved, otherwise it will be difficult for them to grab market share."