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"People are more enthusiastic about outdoor sports and healthy lifestyles. The strong desire to socialize offline is driving "Generation Z" urban youth to pay for personalized sports programs. And the fact that emerging sports are becoming popular means that the habits and preferences of the younger generation are profoundly guiding the popularity of national fitness."
As the outbreak continues to fester, tourism has been hit hard again this year. According to the data center of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the number of domestic tourist arrivals during the May Day holiday in 2022 was 160 million, down 30.2% year-on-year. Jiuzhaigou, Hangzhou West Lake and other scenic spots had a significant drop in traffic compared to previous years, and the average occupancy rate of Sanya hotels on May 1 this year was only 20.75%, down more than 60% year-on-year. In addition, the famous scenic spot Huangshan also in the spring of this year into the "welcome pine no customers to welcome" the difficult situation, March tourist reception is a sharp decline of 81% year-on-year.
The travel industry as a whole has been hit hard by the epidemic, but all kinds of outdoor sports and new trendy niche sports have accidentally emerged. From the hot around the city tour, the pile of parent-child camping, the fast-popular Frisbee, waist flag rugby and other sports, we see another different from the lively scene of the cold tourism market.
For every urbanite, everyone has a need for recreation and entertainment, and the epidemic has fueled even more enthusiasm for outdoor sports, thus giving rise to the explosive start of outdoor niche sports in 2021, and thus nourishing the prosperous development of these niche player sports such as Frisbee, skateboarding, surfing, cycling, outdoor camping and skiing.
As the heartthrob of young people, these new trendy sports contain the life and social style that young people admire. It can be said that social demand is a very core motive to induce consumption behavior, and in the past, Chinese people like to use luxury goods to show their taste and social identity, and nowadays, new trendy sports are gradually given such a layer of meaning.
Epidemic spawns new wave of movement
In 2022, Frisbee became the number one sport that took the young people's life circle by storm. The sport emerged from international students and college students, its rules are similar to rugby, but because there is no physical confrontation so it is more universal for boys and girls, and Frisbee has very few restrictions on the number of participants and playing fields, the rules are simple and do not burn money, so the promotion threshold is very low. And because of its social attributes and popular with young people.
Many enthusiasts confess that Frisbee is easily addictive, and this small disc, which generally costs no more than 100 pieces in the market, is so simple that it only requires an open space and two people to play it. Even in office buildings, you can see young people on their lunch break throwing Frisbees downstairs.
As with camping, the sport of Frisbee is also on fire in Little Red Book, a platform where Frisbee is defined as a trendy and fashionable sport, with as many as 30,000 notes on Frisbee, a 113% increase in six months. The sharing content not only has simple Frisbee science, rules teaching, there are also playing disc Vlog, and even Frisbee sports wear, etc. Some stars and kol also often share and Frisbee-related content on the little red book thus triggering the trend following effect.
Camping, as the most popular domestic netizen outing last year, was a hot scene on May 1 this year, with 10,000 tents in place. In Beijing, Guangzhou and other major cities around, the public will hardly let go of any piece of lawn that allows camping. Although sophisticated camping is also a bit costly, compared to the thousands of nights of expensive B&Bs in various suburbs on holidays, self-drive camping has simply become the most cost-effective option.
According to online travel platform data, this year's "May Day" holiday period, camping-related products (accommodation, outings) booking volume is three times that of last year, can be camping park ticket sales rose by more than 40% compared to last year, families with children have driven to Huairou, Miyun, Shunyi, Yanqing and other places riverside, in a tent, a hammock, a few folding chairs, and full of food in front of the picnic table, enjoy the closeness of nature.
As a "light vacation" mode that combines the three advantages of "near travel, shallow demand, low consumption", camping is a good way to meet people's travel needs under the epidemic. Therefore, the circle is also like a natural result.
After camping and Frisbee, another outdoor sport that has been rapidly coming out of the circle recently - waist flag rugby is also on the list. In terms of play, waist flag rugby is similar to frisbee, but of course the correct term should be frisbee borrowed from the rules of the sport of rugby, frisbee has, waist flag rugby basically have. Therefore, after seeing the Frisbee fire out of the circle, waist flag rugby, which is a close relative, quickly caught the wind and rose to take advantage of the situation.
Like Frisbee, flag football is easy to play, very newbie friendly, and no matter if you are physically strong or weak, you can find a place for yourself in this game, which is even more compatible than Frisbee. Therefore, boys and girls can participate in this game together, which is the key to attracting boys to participate in flag football than basketball or soccer.
Xiaohongshu is naturally the fermenting platform for this new trendy movement again. Currently, the first Chinese social media account of NFL waist flag football has been stationed on Xiaohongshu, and waist flag clubs across the country have also been stationed on Xiaohongshu and joined the waist flag football league on the platform.
In addition, Xiaohongshu has also established a community for waist flag rugby, encouraging people to share everything related to rugby, including participation experience, rugby skills, and equipment seeding, etc. As the largest incubation platform for new trendy sports in China, Xiaohongshu has now become the main traffic entrance for camping, Frisbee, and waist flag rugby.
It is worth mentioning that flag rugby has also become a compulsory subject in Shanghai's secondary school examinations, and it is believed that with the promotion and popularization of flag rugby in secondary schools, flag rugby will inevitably have a wider audience base.
As the weather gets warmer, cycling is also gradually put on the agenda by the general public, whether it's Beijing's riding night brush Chang'an Street, Guangzhou's Huangpu River night ride, or Chengdu's cycling around the city, whether in the city or the countryside, you can almost always see groups of cycling teams in pairs.
As a sport that has existed for a long time in China, cycling has gradually changed from a luxury mobility vehicle in the 70s and 80s to a "poor man's pleasure" and then to a fashionable return, cycling has gradually changed from a mobility tool to a fashionable sport. And unlike the previous Frisbee and waist flag football, the audience group of cycling can span from 20 to 60 years old, not only young people have a preference for cycling, middle-aged cycling teams are not uncommon among professional cycling players. Even the youth group riding more a commuting as the main purpose, but instead the retired crowd is really riding for tourism.
On Little Red Book, there is also a lot of content shared about cycling. For cycling routes, equipment, cycling weight loss, especially cycling wear, are some of the hot topics that are highly discussed on Little Red Book. As a sport that can be both styled and comfortable, cycling's strong return is inseparable from its irreplaceable wonderful experience.
Will the niche movement go mainstream?
From the above types of these emerging niche sports, we can probably summarize some of the commonalities of these out-of-the-loop niche sports, such as: simple game rules low entry barrier, strong social attributes, affordable, and low requirements for venues.
Then review those major outdoor sports that became popular early in the country, such as table tennis, badminton, basketball, soccer, etc. For non-professional players, in fact, they also basically have common features such as low threshold, strong social and affordable, and these sports still occupy the mainstream today. This means that these new trendy niche sports mentioned earlier also have great potential to go mainstream.
Of course, the biggest difference between the rise of new trendy niche sports and these traditional mainstream sports lies in its fashionable attributes. Under the careful operation of Xiaohongshu, the new trendy sports have been given the meaning of fashion, youth and freedom, which are very much in line with the aspirations and pursuits of contemporary youth.
In addition. The rise of new sports also allows more niche sports practitioners to see hope, such as skiing (now also has become popular), diving, rock climbing, parachuting, etc. These niche sports more pursuit of physical stimulation, although more expensive, but really also attract more and more young people to experience.
According to the "2020-2021 Jitterbug Sports Ecology White Paper", niche projects have been seen by more people through short videos, such as kendo, Frisbee, ice hockey, rock climbing, equestrian, skydiving, rugby, baseball and other niche sports that were once unknown to users have now achieved over 100 million plays and over 10 million likes respectively on Jitterbug.
Data released by China's General Administration of Sports shows that the number of people playing sports in China is growing rapidly and is expected to reach 500 million by 2025. Among them, rock climbing, skateboarding, sailing, ice hockey and other niche sports have a growing population of participants.
As to whether the rise of niche sports under the epidemic can go mass in the future, Feng Rao, director of the Hornet's Nest Tourism Research Institute, believes that people are more enthusiastic about outdoor sports and healthy lifestyles under the epidemic. The strong desire to socialize offline has driven the "Generation Z" urban youth to pay for personalized sports programs. The fact that emerging sports have become popular means that the habits and preferences of the younger generation are profoundly guiding the popularity of national fitness.