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Weekly #15: the evolution of facekini👙, Jay Chou saves tourism 🤑, fitness for commitment-phobes 🏋🏽| Following the yuan
You know what else was hot ~10 years ago in China? Crocs.
Please welcome 49 new subscribers since the last newsletter — it's great to have you here! 👀
Also, welcome back to the weekly news roundup, which I’ve been putting on hold when I was in (remote) school. In this revamped edition and moving forward, I will be sharing three news pieces that reflect significant trends in China's consumer markets. I aim to maintain a standardized and formal approach to make it a valuable reference for both your work (and pleasure) and mine in the future. For those who enjoy my commentaries, make sure to tune in every Thursday!
As a newsletter written from the perspective of a Chinese consumer, I must clarify that I have absolutely no knowledge about the first trend, which was hot for a while 10 years ago. I rarely put on sunscreen and the only purpose I can see facekini serve is to stop me from being tracked by cameras while jaywalking. Wait, come to think of it... 🤔
1. The evolution and comeback of facekini 👙
Before you go ‘wow, Chinese people are so weird’, I’m here to say that this was a cover photo in China Daily 10 years ago, K? Times have changed, and now we are more like…
The trend: The trend of the 'Facekini', also known as ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) face covers, has been gaining popularity in China since the beginning of June. Some wholesale stores specializing in "Facekini" products have reported monthly sales volumes nearing 300,000 pieces, as confirmed by domestic reporters via wholesale market Yiwu and others. Among which, some of the popular brands are Beneunder 蕉下 and Bananain 蕉内.
Facekini reflects the larger boom of UPF clothing. The market size of China UPF apparel industry has increased from 45.9 billion yuan in 2016 to 67.5 billion yuan in 2022, according to Huajing Industrial Research Institute, with a compound annual growth rate of 5.9%. The institute estimated that the market size will reach 74.2 billion yuan (US$10.3 billion) in 2023.
Go deeper: The popularity of UPF clothing products can be attributed to several factors, including traditional beauty standards and the preference for pale skin, as well as the cost-effectiveness of physical sun blocking compared to chemical sunscreens. Additionally, the habits of wearing face covers may have been well cultivated during the three years of Covid restrictions.
2. Mandopop king Jay Chou saves local tourism 🤑
The fact: During Jay Chou's 2023 world tour in Haikou, it generated a staggering 976 million yuan in tourism revenue for the city in just four days. This exceeded the revenue generated during the five-day Labor Day holiday by about 100 million yuan.
There were 95,100 tourists from outside the province, accounting for 61.5% of the total number of visitors during the four days where the concert took place.
The Haikou government went all out in supporting Chou and his fans: they set up a concert service headquarters, and had the municipal 12345 hotline dedicate a Jay Chou concert desk to answer any relevant questions. Visitors say that local businesses were blasting Chou’s music to vibe with the concert-goers.
Go deeper: The statistics from the May holiday revealed [Chinese] that the increase in trips taken and travel spending didn't align. This indicates that visitors remain cautious with spending. Now that local governments have discovered the potential economic benefits and driving force of tourism, they may be eager to secure projects involving superstars like Chou.
3. Fitness for commitment-phobes 🏋🏽
The fact: After Tera Fitness 一兆韦德, a large Chinese fitness chain with over 120 stores nationwide, announced its reorganization in late June, it recently decided to replace its long-term membership system with monthly, quarterly, one-year and two-year programs.
The fitness industry in China faced significant challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, despite a national fitness plan to support the development of the sports industry. Aside from the troubled Tera Fitness, one of the top yoga studio chains Fine Yoga went bust in March. A May report [Chinese] by Shanghai Institute of Sport, fitness SaaS platform Three Body Cloud and consulting firm Weber Shandwick reported that mainland gym members slipped by 4.9% by 2022, a first after five consecutive years of growth.
Go deeper: The popularity of ClassPass and other point-based commitment-free programs, as well as the rise of outdoor community events, chain gyms are having a tough time while being forced to adapt to changes in consumer preferences post-covid. Perhaps we will see some new business models in the coming years. 🔚
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Before you go, I’d like to bring your attention to Slow Chinese, a resource which helps aspiring learners of Mandarin stay on top of the latest Chinese language trends. I’ve always tried to include Chinese brand/company names in my writing in case you want to look it up yourself, with the help of Slow Chinese, you may be able to read original texts faster! 🤓