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Decathlon eyes faster growth in China market

By CHAI HUA in Shenzhen, Guangdong | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-22 08:59

A staff member demonstrates surfskating at the booth of the French sporting goods retailer Decathlon at the 5th CIIE in Shanghai, Nov 8, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

French retailer pushes innovation for diverse products on consumer demand

French sporting goods retailer Decathlon is upping the ante in China's sports market as local consumers' pursuit of healthier life-styles is increasing and diversifying.

With the government's push for a healthier population and people's soaring interest in sports, the sports industry in China is undergoing a significant transformation and demand for various sporting equipment and services is rising steadily.

China's sports industry has shifted from the traditional mode of sports manufacturing to a multi-structural model, including production, service and consumption, said Zhou Xing, North China markets leader at PwC China.

According to the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), the total production value of China's sports industry is expected to reach 5 trillion yuan ($726.8 billion) by 2025 with sports consumption exceeding 2.8 trillion yuan.

Zhou said she believes more innovative products and business forms in the sports arena will be derived from its integration with technology, education, culture and tourism.

However, she also noted that China's sports consumption market still has huge potential for growth as per capita sports consumption in the nation is still far from that in developed countries.

According to a survey by the municipal government of Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in 2020, its residents spent an average of 3,175 yuan ($461.5) on sports per year, while the figure in 2018 was more than $1,345 in North America, she added.

To cater to the diverse and growing demand for sports and exercise, Decathlon China recently organized the campaign "Sport to Paris "together with the French Embassy in Beijing and related French consulates in China. The event, which is held in seven cities including Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai, demonstrates the health benefits of various sports such as paddleboarding, running, balance biking, skateboarding, cycling and hiking.

"The government's strategy of 'Fitness for All' has gained great popularity. It has resulted in not only the improvement of people's awareness of sports and health but also the diversification and upgrade of sports consumption," said Servando Quevedo Gonzalvez, vice-president of Decathlon China.

He said the sports chain has developed both entry-level products and middle- to high-end professional-level equipment specifically to meet the needs of experienced players in the Chinese market.

Moreover, he noticed that there are many untapped emerging niche markets. In addition to traditional sports, such as football, badminton and swimming, emerging sports such as camping, flying disc, paddleboarding and skateboarding have also attracted more attention from a wider audience, an indication of the improving national economic level and people's pursuit of high-quality life, he said.

Taking paddleboarding as an example, he said, it has shown explosive growth in China and families with children have gradually become the main consumers of paddleboards.

Zhang Min, an official of the water sports management center at the General Administration of Sport, said at the Decathlon event in Shenzhen that more consumers in China have developed strong interest in surfing and paddleboarding, which are usually popular among youth.

Zhang also encouraged the seaside city to leverage its environmental advantages to promote emerging sports activities.

China's outdoor sports industry, in particular, is bound to hit 3 trillion yuan in value by 2025. Data from the GAS showed that more than 400 million people participated in outdoor sports nationwide by the end of 2021.

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