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How Global Sportswear Brands Are Re-Inventing the Omnichannel Experience in China

In China’s large but competitive retail market, the costs of acquiring customers online have risen so high that brands are now focused on retaining what existing customers they have.

by Ker Zheng

In China’s large but competitive retail market, the costs of acquiring customers online have risen so high that brands are now focused on retaining what existing customers they have.

Providing exclusive, members-only omni-channel experiences is one way to do this, and leading sportswear brands such as Lululemon, Nike, and local player Maia Active have stood out in their efforts to do so.

We take a deeper look at what they’re doing and how other brands can learn from them.

Lululemon

Lululemon recently opened a new concept store inside Hangzhou’s upscale In77 shopping mall. It was developed in conjunction with partners Tmall Club and fitness studio SPACE, which runs indoor spin cycling and yoga fitness classes. On June 21st, Lululemon held a public yoga event, “Live Your Possibilities”, to celebrate the store’s grand opening.

Lululemon partnered with SPACE to launch a WeChat mini-program that integrates content and fitness class booking functions. New members are entitled to a free trial class.

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Lululemon x Space workout party on the grand opening

In addition to such offline classes, Lululemon launched online yoga, meditation, and pilates classes through livestreaming sessions on WeChat, hiring 28 sports ambassadors and team members to lead these groups.

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Select and sign up for an offline lesson via Lululemon WeChat mini-program

Such an integrated mini-program is designed to further customer engagement. Customers can purchase Lululemon products through the mini-program so that they can attend SPACE’s offline exercise classes. Currently, customers are entitled to a free trial lesson if they purchase a Lululemon product.

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Nike

Nike launched its first digital-focused Nike Rise store in Guangzhou in early July. At the same time, they built an online-offline WeChat mini-program store that enables customers to browse and purchase items online, picking up the items at the store.  

The store itself, combined with the mini-program, is equipped with omnichannel digital experiences. The Nike mini-program and mobile app contain features like Nike Scan to Try On, Nike Scan to Learn, Nike Fit, and Nike City Membership Experiences.

The Nike Scan to Try On function uses augmented reality technology through the smartphone so that customers can see how a product will look when worn on them. The Nike Scan to Learn feature lets users scan products in real time to find out their details. The Nike Fit feature enables users to figure out which size shoe fits best, and the Nike City Membership Experiences feature lets users book offline experiences in Guangzhou.

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Nike’s “Scan to Learn” enables users to scan the products for details

Its Nike City Membership Experience turns cities into virtual stadiums; customers can track their jogging runs and attend events set up by Nike. Such events include fitness expert lectures, athlete/celebrity workshops, and other lifestyle & culture-related events, both in the Nike store and throughout the city. The mini-program enables customers to book time slots for such events.

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Nike Rise mini-program offers a variety of events

The mini-program also offers access to fitness-related content and other member services, such as customer service, a store locator tool, and more.

Maia Active

Maia Active, a Chinese sportswear brand catering to premium female customers, has excelled in using community marketing and omnichannel experiences to engage its members.

During the Covid-19 epidemic, Maia Active launched a 14-day fat loss challenge on WeChat, inspiring consumers to participate through live streaming and virtual punch cards. One-third of the initial 300+ participants kept attending the online lessons for 14 days straight.

The brand has also set up a members’ club called the Maia Fun Club; it uses WeChat content to notify members of new events.

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MAIA FUN CLUB event homepage

Last year, Maia Active partnered with fitness studio chain Supermonkey to launch co-branded items and specialized fitness classes across ten different studios in China. Through such a partnership, Maia Active could both provide existing customers with a premium experience and expand their reach to Supermonkey customers. Supermonkey, which initially had trouble catering to female customers, was able to reach Maia Active’s existing base.

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Maia Active x Super Monkey workout activity

Key Takeaways

1. Sportswear brands in China are creating omnichannel experiences to engage and retain their customers.

2. Lululemon created a lifestyle space where members can take yoga classes. Members can also take online classes through its WeChat mini-program

3. Nike’s new Nike Fit store in Guangzhou enables customers to use a mini-program to try on virtual products and learn more about products. It also uses a mini-program to provide workout lessons and information about offline events.

4. Maia Active, a local Chinese brand catering to premium female customers, partnered with fitness studio chain Supermonkey to provide co-branded products and exclusive workout classes