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Companies reel in young anglers

By Liu Yukun | China Daily | Updated: 2023-06-08 09:24

An angler displays his catch during a fishing competition in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, in May. CHEN YONGJIAN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Wang's 500-square-meter tackle store, Lanwood Fishing Agent, is divided into two floors, with the first floor dedicated to freshwater gear and the second stocked with saltwater gear. The store sells many kinds of products made by nearly 40 brands, with a focus on Japanese brands.

"Our family has been selling fishing gear for over 30 years, starting from a small storefront of just 18 square meters. We also have a 1,000-square-meter warehouse. We have grown along with the significant growth and diversification of the fishing industry over the years," Wang said.

With an estimated 140 million people taking part in fishing annually, the industry is becoming a lucrative market for manufacturers of rods, reels, baits, hooks, floats and commercial fish ponds.

There are 13,000 fishing-related companies in China, with new registrations increasing year-over-year during the past decade, according to Qichacha, a corporate information-sharing platform.

That growth has been particularly strong since 2019. In 2021, new registrations reached 2,555, a yearly increase of 124.5 percent and a 10-year record high. Last year, the number of new businesses surged 75.2 percent year-on-year.

With equipment manufacturing and commercial fishing ponds growing, the industry is booming. Retail sales of fishing equipment are expected to reach 57.88 billion yuan by 2025, according to data analysis company IT Time. China has become the world's largest producer and exporter of fishing equipment.

Younger anglers will also continue to contribute to new growth, the company said.

"China's fishing industry is experiencing a surge in popularity, with young people taking up an increasing share. In some recent fishing competitions, about 80 percent of participants were young people between 20 and 30 years old," said Huo Taixiang, marketing director of Daiwa's China branch in Guangdong province. Daiwa is a Japanese fishing tackle brand.

"Many lure fishing enthusiasts release the fish after they catch them, which is seen as more eco-friendly and cooler by younger generations. Many also dress in stylish apparel, set up tents in scenic areas and post their photos on social media, attracting more participants," Huo said.

Livestreaming and short videos have helped to popularize fishing among younger viewers. According to short-video platform Douyin, fishing has become the top leisure activity on the platform, with content viewed over 79.9 billion times as of early May.

Short-video site Kuaishou said fishing livestreams are tops in views between 6 am and 5 pm.

Most of Daiwa's best-selling products in China are entry-level gear priced at a few hundred yuan for beginners or high-end gear costing over 10,000 yuan for experienced anglers looking to upgrade, Huo said.

Daiwa's products are sold mainly through distributors in China, with only 20 percent sold directly by the company, primarily online.

Daiwa said it recently launched a new line of gear aimed at lure fishers in China called the Fire Lizard series, with an iconic red color. The line includes reels, rods, clothing and bags. A complete set of gear is priced in the range of 2,000 to 3,000 yuan.

The company also offers a wide range of other gear in China, with prices ranging from a few hundred to over 10,000 yuan. Huo said that higher-priced products typically are of higher quality and made of better materials, such as high-end carbon fiber for fishing rods, which are more sensitive and responsive.

"Daiwa will continue to release more products for the Chinese market. We are preparing a campaign that combines fishing with camping, which is to be introduced in July," Huo said.

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