When I’m at the gym in China, I always see at least a few people exercising in jeans. I’ve noticed that in general, people in China don’t seem to have very strong preconceptions about fitness wear. So there are a lot of people jogging, doing yoga or whatever in jeans and cargo pants; I once took a high-impact aerobics class where several women were wearing small heels and were barefoot. Heels! Barefoot! I could barely follow along in my New Balance cross-trainers!
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with working out in jeans. I mean, it seems like it might get a little hot and maybe also constraining. But mainly, it’s just new to me because I’ve been brainwashed to believe that a cute workout outfit is more important than actually, you know, exercising. So yeah, I’m the one in my class who is decked out like a yoga instructor but can barely touch her toes. Meanwhile, these Chinese women manage to do all sorts of contortions even in super tight jeans.
But if I’m thinking like a marketer, I would say that there’s a huge opportunity here to “educate” the consumers about appropriate fitness wear. The average Chinese seems far more active than the average American, and if, as a whole, Chinese consumers started believing that they need to change into different outfits to play ping pong, badminton, ride bikes, go hiking, run on the tracks, etc., etc., that could lead to a huge spike in sales for the activewear segment. It’s all about market penetration, my friends.
So how do we do this? We need to launch an advertising campaign to convince the Chinese people that the right activewear will improve their performance as well as their overall enjoyment. You will play better ping pong in our clothes! You will have more fun in our clothes! We also need to convince them that looking cute is just as important as exercising itself. You might meet your future husband at the gym! They need to become more like me — where the amount of exercise clothes I own is completely disproportionate to the amoung of exercise I actually do.
So… Nike, are you ready to hire me as your new head of marketing in China yet? Call me!