With the Beijing Olympics coming up in 2022, a fitness craze among China’s growing middle class is expected to make the country’s activewear market worth 40.2 billion USD by 2021. As brands rapidly expand their China store footprints to cash in on the growth, they have been slower at connecting these brick-and-mortar stores to their online sales.
According to L2’s new Activewear China Insight Report, brands are missing out on omnichannel opportunities that could facilitate foot traffic to stores, customer loyalty, and sales. None of the brands indexed offer in-store product inventory information on their China sites or allow users to reserve products online for in-store purchase. Nike is the only brand that offers an in-store pickup option for online purchases and an online appointment-booking feature, but appointments can only be made for stores outside China.
Brands have focused more on developing omnichannel promotions to engage users in offline fitness activities. Lululemon offers yoga class promotions with registration through mobile apps WeChat and Keep. For its “Unroll China” yoga classes held at prominent locations in China such as Beijing’s Forbidden City, the brand created a specially designed HTML5 page for users to register through WeChat. Lululemon is also ahead of its peers with omnichannel sales as the only brand to offer the option to return online purchases in stores.
Under Armour also offers registration for fitness classes via WeChat and includes a loyalty program that gives points for each class users attend. They can then redeem the points on WeChat for Under Armour products.
Adidas featured a major omnichannel promotion this summer with its Republic of Sports athletic facilities in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Guangzhou. For half a month in each city, the venues held celebrity events and fitness classes while offering athletic challenges that awarded Adidas gear as prizes. Mobile omnichannel components were included throughout the venue, as users were encouraged to sign up for Adidas’ WeChat loyalty program. They could also receive mobile videos and photos of themselves completing their fitness challenges—allowing them to show off their feats of strength to friends and family on social media.