Laurel Gu
Laurel joined Mintel in 2013 after five years work at Nielsen. Her areas of expertise include consumer research, product innovations and data analytics. She now focuses on identifying changing consumer behaviour, industry trends, and innovations in the leisure, travel, health and wellbeing sectors in China.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot about the way consumers live, including how they workout. Now more than ever, customers are foregoing the gym and choosing to work out at home.  Smart interactive fitness equipment that allows consumers to practice at home is on the rise in the global market. Some companies leading the way include Lululemon and VAHA X, who have created mirrors that double as interactive training screens, and JAXJOX, a buildable home fitness equipment provider based around a touchscreen TV. Fiture is another active brand of fitness mirrors in China, while fitness brands such as Codoon (fitness app) and Lefit (gym) in China have also released smart training mirrors.

When urban Chinese consumers are asked how they plan to shift their leisure priorities after COVID-19, sports and fitness activities are among the top three mentions, both in the in-home and out-of-home scenarios. 

Mintel monthly survey to track consumers’ fitness behaviours indicates that about 20 percent of the consumers claim they have the habit of working out at home.  Those who go to in-person gyms are a smaller group, but the number has been growing very quickly in the past year, almost doubling the size.

Fitness brands have a fresh set of business opportunities in the market, especially with the expanding home exercise population, and their growing desire for elevated home exercise experiences.We have seen the rise of so many new brands in the market over the past few years, and many of them are continuously attracting investment. 

What we think

Besides fitness apps and smart home fitness equipment, there are other white spaces waiting for brands to tap into. Consumers are embracing active lifestyles, they believe doing fitness can help improve self-confidence, and their fitness habits and spending preferences introduce opportunities in various business areas. Fitness, beauty, and sports nutrition are areas with great potential for product innovations and upgrades.

In overseas markets, we have seen home design brands developing creative furniture collections which can be turned into training equipment; and some beauty brands launching fragrances inspired by fitness activities (like yoga). There are also laundry brands developing special formulas to take care of the smells generated from sweat in fitness clothes.Out analysts think these are the types of opportunity areas in the domestic market that the brands may want to look into.