Monthly Archives: January 2019

8 Incredible Facts about China and the Chinese Sports Business

Winter and running sports are booming in China like nowhere else, the smartphone determines everyday life and one day a year China’s consumers go completely crazy. Eight facts that put China in a completely new light.

1. Football Rules in China

China is crazy about soccer! Football pitches with artificial turf and floodlights are being built on virtually every corner of China’s cities, soccer is being played day and night. Of course, China’s passion for football has not remained hidden from top international clubs, and teams from the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga and Spain’s Primera Division are particularly active in China.

The absolute industry leader is Manchester United. The traditional English club is the undisputed digital number one with 107 million followers. To put the number in proportion: Around 66 million people currently live in Great Britain. (Source: Red Card 2018, China Digital Football Awards)

Anyone who practices sports inevitably has to dress accordingly – and in the clothing sector the US sporting goods manufacturer Nike has expanded its supremacy in China in 2018. According to second quarter figures, Nike registered $1.38 billion in sales, a currency-neutral increase of 20 percent over the previous quarter. Overall, Nike increased its sales by double digits for 17 consecutive quarters.

In the domestic market of North America, the increase in sales was only six percent. In the same period, competitor Adidas sold only slightly more goods in the entire Asia-Pacific region with 1.7 billion dollars. (Source: Sales Reports Nike and Adidas 2nd quarter 2018)

Consumption is a top priority in China, and the brand awareness of the Chinese has long since reached a Western level. Accordingly, there is a very special day in China to pay homage to consumption. The Singles Day is like Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day all at once for wholesale and retail. On 11.11 China goes completely crazy and buys as if the world would end the next day. In 2018 online retailer Alibaba transferred over 30.8 billion dollars in 24 hours, 27 percent more than in the previous year. The range included 180,000 brands from China and the rest of the world, including market leaders such as Apple, Nike, Adidas and GAP.

4. China’s WeChat Attacks WhatsApp

To shop comfortably from the couch on Singles Day, the Chinese use their WeChat App. The smartphone application is a communication platform, social network, department store, bank and so much more. In China alone, over 900 million users make use of the app every day, spending an average of almost 70 minutes on WeChat services. Worldwide there are already more than one billion users and WeChat does not lie far behind WhatsApp, which had 1.5 billion users in January 2018. (Source: Statista)

5. The Chinese Are Surfing with Their Smartphone

In general, the Chinese have a special relationship to their smartphones. The networks are well developed, the coverage with fast Internet is excellent especially in metropolitan areas, and with apps like WeChat or Weibo (China’s answer to Twitter), bulky desktop computers become almost obsolete. At the beginning of 2018, 802 million Chinese had access to the Internet, about 58 percent of the population. That is of course still expandable, especially in the western provinces of the giant empire, but one number is particularly remarkable: if the Chinese use the Internet, it is via their smartphone, because 788 of the 802 million Internet users (98 percent) use their smartphones for this purpose.

6. The Chinese Are Running More and More

In addition to their love for smartphones, China’s citizens are increasingly discovering active sports for themselves. Running, skiing, snowboarding, everything is being tested – and the government supports its citizens wherever possible. According to the government’s national fitness plan, one billion Chinese will be practicing sports by 2020. Especially running sports seem to please the Chinese. According to the Chinese Athletic Association, 328 marathons with 2.8 million runners were held in China in 2017 alone, compared with only 22 races six years earlier. In total, the number of running events increased to 1102 races.

7. Winter Sports Boom Thanks to the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing

With the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, winter sports in China naturally boom, too. New ski resorts are opening up even in the remotest parts of the country – and even in placed with no snow – like Shanghai – winter sports are being made possible. The latest mega-project is called Wintastar Shanghai and will be the largest indoor ski slope in the world at its opening. 90,000 square meters of pistes are to be offered, whereby the longest slope is to meet Olympic training standards and will have three kilometers length. In addition, the complex planned by star architect Massimo Mercurio will include restaurants, shops, a spa, and an ice rink.

8. Wintastar Shanghai Increases the Desire for Skiing

3.2 million visitors are expected annually at Wintastar Shanghai, which is a remarkable forecast compared to the current figures of active winter sports enthusiasts in the White Book 2017. According to the annual study by China’s winter sports experts and ISPO Beijing Panel Speaker Wu Bin, the number of winter athletes in China amounted to 12.1 million Chinese, with the 703 resorts recording 17.5 million visits. Even though only about one percent of the Chinese population actively practizes winter sports, the 17.5 million visits to Chinese resorts almost reached the level of Switzerland (23 million) in the same period. Until the 2022 Winter Olympics, the number is to increase significantly with the help of government programs, with 300 million winter athletes planned according to the party plan.

Fitness center trends to watch over the next 5 years


news source EXOS


Over the last five years, the fitness industry has seen significant change. Boutique fitness, wearables, and online training have dominated. But users aren’t necessarily healthier or fitter than they were before.


“As always, members are seeking support and guidance in an accessible way that is affordable, and that’s where many facilities fall short — they’re not setting people up for success,” says Kevin Elsey, vice president of EXOS’ performance innovation team. “The environment should be evolving, energizing, and enabling users to reach their fullest health and performance potential.”


With that in mind, here are the most important fitness center trends to watch over the next five years. Are you set up to keep pace?


The “gym” will be everywhere.

“Facilities can’t expect members to stay engaged and achieve their goals if they’re only coming in twice a week,” Elsey says. “More fitness centers will have digital platforms that allow members 24/7 access to exercise programming, tools, and content as well as nutrition guidance that they can use wherever they are.”


Learn how EXOS Journey can help you reach your employees wherever they are.


Trainers will double as health coaches.

“Fitness” doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Mindset, nutrition, movement, and recovery are the four pillars of performance, says Elsey, but most gyms emphasize only the movement part. “If someone’s sleeping or eating better, they’ll move and perform better.” Adding a registered dietitian to the team can give members baseline knowledge of how food can fuel their lives and create a new revenue stream. Additionally, coaches can take on a more multifaceted role.


More trainers will become health coaches, taking on a dual role to work with members who are ready to get fit and/or healthy but also those who haven’t yet made the commitment, says Bob Boone, president and chief executive officer of the Medical Fitness Association. “Coaching helps people prepare and moves them along the scale of readiness to change,” he says. As a result, more employees can use the gym.


Fitness centers will need to hire registered dietitians or give their coaches nutrition training to help clients optimize nutrition habits.

“Fitness” doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Mindset, nutrition, movement, and recovery are the four pillars of performance, but most gyms emphasize only the movement part.


Programs will become more personal.

“The more personalized a solution is, the more effective the outcome will be. To that end, when you can provide insight about all the information a member has accumulated from various sources — wearables, movement assessments, or even their calendar — and explain how to use it to personalize their experience, then that data becomes useful,” Elsey says.


Fitness centers will increasingly have systems in place that capture all this information, aggregate it, and provide actionable programs based on it. Added to that data mix will be genomic and biome testing and blood panels.


“When you look at all these things in combination, you unlock their true power to enhance health,” says Craig Friedman, vice president of EXOS’ performance innovation team. “Soon you’ll be able to get these done at the fitness facility.”


Capturing biomechanics will get easier.

As technology advances, we’ll see fitness centers trend toward a greater use of biomechanics capture. Currently, movement screens, which identify mobility and stability restrictions that can impact performance and potentially lead to injuries, can be time-consuming and cumbersome.


“New systems — called markerless biomechanics capture — are using cameras to make gleaning that information easier and more seamless,” Friedman says. “More and more facilities will invest in these types of systems, especially those that are serving a more athletic population.”


Machines will be smarter.

Facility design will incorporate increased open space — indoors and out — to allow for more movement, free weights, functional training, and personal training space, Friedman says.


At the same time, old-school, plate-based weight machines will start to disappear as pneumatic and robotic motorized resistance options make their way to the floor. These machines adapt easily to each user, allow for more lifelike (or performance-oriented) movements than traditional machines do, are more efficient, and provide instant feedback in some cases. “This all plays into that trend toward more personalization,” Friedman adds.


Expanding the gym experience beyond your physical space allows clients to access content 24/7. New, advanced biomechanics technology will make it easier for fitness centers to personalize recommendations.


Outdated, traditional machines will make way for open spaces and more lifelike, performance-based training. As technology advances, we’ll see fitness centers trend toward a greater use of biomechanics capture.


Fitness centers will be integrated into medical facilities.

Medical fitness facilities — workout centers linked to health care providers (80 percent are hospital owned) that focus on prevention, rehab, and managing chronic health issues — are experiencing strong growth, but the model hasn’t quite achieved its full potential yet. The more these facilities can prove, through outcomes, that exercise is good and less expensive medicine, the brighter their future will be. And this applies to your employees, too — many of which struggle to find time to take care of themselves.


“We’re starting to document outcomes now and trying to make sure we have reproducible results across a nationwide network of facilities,” Boone says. “What we’re already seeing is across virtually every chronic disease, exercise, nutrition, and health coaching interventions favorably impact hospital stays, prognoses, treatment response, recovery time, and more.”

WFSGI Manufacturers Forum 2018 Recap

News source: WFSGI’s web

Digitally transforming the sporting goods industry

The sixth edition of WFSGI’s World Manufacturers Forum took place in Vietnam
last week, discussing manufacturing and human labour in the digital age. WTiN
brings you the highlights.
Whether we like it or not, Industry 4.0 is coming, and how we respond to this and take advantage of
the opportunities it brings will determine our success. That was the key message of the sixth World
Manufacturers Forum (WMF), organised by the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry
(WFSGI), which focused on the theme of ‘Manufacturing 4.0: Steps toward a future vision’.
Held on 11-12 December in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the forum addressed the key topics of
blockchain technology, smart garment factories, human labour in the digital age, and digital
transformation of the textile value chain. It also covered raw materials disruptions and innovative
software technologies.
Opening the conference, Robbert De Kock, president and CEO of WFSGI, described the WMF as a
‘neutral platform because it deals with issues that concern the whole global sporting goods
industry’. He also encouraged the delegates to talk to their competitors so that they can ‘learn from
each other and exchange ideas to develop further’.
Meanwhile, Sean O’Hollaren, chairman of WFSGI and senior vice president, Government and Public
Affairs, Nike Inc, said that speed is driving everything, giving a nod to e-commerce giants Amazon
and Alibaba. “Consumer expectations of how quickly we’re getting products to them are evolving
day by day – making all of us work a little bit differently”. He said that sustainability is not an
optional add-on, it is a consumer expectation. “Our labour and environmental practices are
something that our consumers expect from brands, so how we do this is critical – and this is what
helps maximise human potential and performance.”
Setting the scene of this year’s forum, moderator Edwin Keh, CEO of the Hong Kong Research
Institute of Textiles and Apparel, said: “This is a story of Asia and the changes that Vietnam has gone
through in the last decade or so in manufacturing. It’s such an exciting place to be.”
Blockchain solutions
The presentation programme started with an in-depth look at blockchain technology – a concept
that has changed how we communicate with each other and revolutionised the way we transact.
Nicholas Russell from IDEA London, University of London, UK, said that “every 10 years, you get
something that you really think is going to be disruptive”, listing the internet and smart phones as
key examples. Now we have blockchain – defined as a digital record of transactions – which is seen
as another opportunity to change the industrial landscape.
Russell invited the audience to participate in a poll which started by asking: ‘To what extent will this
technology affect your business?’ Most people selected the first option which was ‘a lot’. In the
question that followed, most delegates answered that they were aware of the technology’s potential
impact but were unsure of where it was going.
Blockchain technology started to take off after the financial crisis of 2008. Despite the depleted state
of the economy back then, it ‘wasn’t the end; it was the start of a new digital revolution that is now
pushing transparency to the surface in a lot of ways’, said Russell. Since then, we have seen the
creation of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin which have grown through blockchain technology. How
this technology is now applied goes far beyond simple online cash payments. “So, now is a great
time to become aware and look at how it’s been used,” he said.
For instance, blockchain has enabled the growth of data-driven manufacturing systems, commonly
used by Apple, Amazon and BMW, which electronically track stages of the supply chain and allow
customers to access them remotely, advancing efficiency and transparency. This IoT initiative, said
Russell, will be driven further by cheaper system components – enabling smaller companies to offer
a similar service in future.
Blockchain could also be used to improve the traceability of recycled plastic, Russell suggested, by
doping the plastic with a compound at the manufacturing stage. If the plastic was then to end up in
the ocean, it could be traced back to where it came from, allowing people to identify what type of
plastic it is, easing the recycling process. That level of traceability, said Russell, ‘creates a closed loop
sourcing programme – identifying where an object goes and who put it there’.
Driving automation
Manufacturing in the digital age demands a need for real-time visibility and data-driven decision
making, according to Martin Strommer, advisor to the Board, nCinga Innovations, Singapore. The
future of Industry 4.0, he said, is the ability of machines to talk to other machines, systems, sensors
and other types of technology. And the people in a manufacturing entity can be interlinked via these
physical systems.
He spoke of a new paradigm related to Industry 4.0 known as decentralisation – comprising
autonomous systems or artificial intelligence (AI). “Essentially, the end goal is a factory that pretty
much runs itself,” said Strommer. “And, the only time when we need to get involved is when there is
some exception – for instance, if the machines or systems can’t agree and require human
He explained that Industry 4.0, or Industrie 4.0, is a platform that was originally developed for the
German industry to work more efficiently and to stay competitive amid high labour rates and the
high cost of manufacturing. It does this through shortening a product’s time to market, increasing
flexibility for individualised mass production, and enabling return on investment.
Similar standards have been developed globally: “The whole world is looking at manufacturing
excellence based on these Industry 4.0 standards,” said Strommer. He added that Industry 4.0 needs
to be adapted to the whole of Asia and developing countries. “There is a lot of manual work, it is
labour intensive, but it gives ample opportunities to digitalise some of these labour-intensive
“It is a journey and the time to start the journey is now.”
The first morning session concluded with a brief talk from Rakhil Hirdaramani, board director of the
Hirdaramani Group, who discussed the changing role of the manufacturer in the age of the so-called
smart factory. “We have a business model that has disrupted everything we do, so we talk about
speed as the new normal,” said Hirdaramani, who added that the industry needs to start automating
its knowledge base.
Boosting skills
Catherine Cole, executive director of Alvanon, Hong Kong, said that as digitalisation takes place
across the supply chain, staff need to contend with new skills – from understanding big data
facilitated buying and merchandising, to 3D design, automation, and more collaborative ways of
managing product lifecycles.
Cole began her presentation by asking the audience a couple of questions including: ‘How worried
are you about the relevance of your team’s skills over the next five years?’ The majority (65%)
answered ‘moderately worried’, while 31% said ‘panic!’ and just 5% expressed no concerns
It seems that the delegates have a right to be worried, considering that robot automation is
expected to take over the jobs of 800 million global workers by 2030, according to a 2017 report by
McKinsey Global Institute.
“The fact is, there is a slowing labour force growth rate,” Cole pointed out, which can be attributed
to many factors including an ageing population and migration. She said the apparel industry was the
first to automate with the sewing machine, so it is ironic that it was not the first to embrace
To put this into context, Cole presented the results of a global survey Alvanon recently conducted
entitled The State of Skills in the Apparel Industry 2018, which explores what digitisation and
automation mean for the current workforce. It also offers various case studies on how to tackle the
apparel industry’s digital skills gap.
The survey features 642 respondents from various apparel brands, manufacturers or factories,
retailers and sourcing companies. 73% of respondents said that employee learning and skills
development is a key business issue; 62% said they have difficulty filling certain positions due to a
lack of skilled workforces; and over 50% of respondents are ‘concerned’ with the lack of training and
development opportunities.
In addition, time and budget constraints were considered the biggest roadblocks to enhanced
training programmes for managers, prompting Cole to say: “We need to think about new ways of
Three potential solutions for improving workers’ skillsets, noted by Cole, are: preserving the craft
and fundamentals, upskilling/transitioning current employees, and collaborating across supply
chains. “Skills are going to be your competitive advantage going forward… and there has to be
continuing professional development,” Cole concluded.
The increasingly important role workers play in automation was emphasised by Harry Nurmansyah,
senior director, Field Operation, Social and Environmental Affairs, Asia Pacific, Adidas. Worker
empowerment is quickly becoming a common trend in supply chain management because it signifies
workers’ contribution to the factory’s operation and improves communication between
management. Worker insights can lead to improved staff engagement, which directly improves
retention and productivity at the factory level, said Nurmansyah.
He spoke about Adidas’ social compliance programme, which takes an in-depth approach to
managing the relationships with its suppliers. The programme stemmed from three major factors: a
lack of awareness of workers’ rights; weak legal enforcement; and greater scrutiny by stakeholders.
According to Nurmansyah, Adidas strengthened its programme by adding a new element called
Worker empowerment – giving workers a voice, roles and opportunities to drive changes and/or
improvement. This, in turn, drives productivity and efficiency.
Digital transformation
The emerging digital transformation of the textile and apparel industry is being driven by three
factors, according to Mark Jarvis, managing director of WTiN, including a paradigm shift in the
manufacturing process, material innovation, and a new economic model.
These three fundamental changes to the competitive environment, he added, present a ‘once in a
generation opportunity for manufacturers to reinvent their business’.
Jarvis presented the findings from the recent Digital Transformation Survey carried out by WTiN in
collaboration with CEMATEX, Gherzi Textil Organisation, International Apparel Federation,
International Textile Manufacturers Federation and WFSGI, assisted by Dornbirn Global Fibre
Congress. The aim of the survey was to provide a rounded analysis of the pace of change at the
beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, covering investment with regards to people and
technologies plus current and expected impacts on the industry as a whole.
According to Jarvis, the overall findings of the survey present a ‘slightly positive’ outlook for digital
transformation across all geographies in the textile and apparel industry.
Asia is the geographical front-runner in digital transformation, with 71% of respondents from this
region having implemented digital transformation initiatives. Most of the investments are made in
data analytics, with 18% of participants using predictive data analytics.
Jarvis echoed the sentiments of the previous speakers by saying that the industry should focus on
overcoming several challenges, including the inability of business partners to collaborate, a lack of
clear vision and leadership, unclear economic benefits of digital investments, high financial
investment requirements, a lack of skilled professionals and a lack of basic infrastructure
He concluded by quoting US business tycoon, Bill Gates: “We always overestimate the change that
will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don’t
let yourself be lulled into inaction.”
Smart supply chain
Christian Decker, CEO of DESMA, Germany, discussed the digitalisation of the footwear industry and
software automation.
He said that over the last 60 years, the consumer’s influence on the supply chain has changed
considerably. Such that, supply chains are becoming ‘demand chains’ where the consumer is
demanding what businesses are producing instead of the brands themselves – transforming the
business model that has existed in shoe making for 150 years.
Decker said ‘supply chains need to get smarter, extremely dynamic and far more integrated’ to keep
up with this demand which, as discussed previously, centres on speed.
Some brands, including Nike and Under Armour, have responded with reshoring initiatives – opening
plants overseas to be closer to the demand. Under Armour believes that ‘local-for-local
manufacturing drives growth with better products and a more efficient supply chain’.
The question that should be asked, said Decker, is: ‘How are your consumers today integrated into
your supply chains?’ The data they require – be this a specific shoe size or colour, for example –
should be integrated into the supply chain to provide the right product.
He also suggested that the development of a smart supply chain gives new possibilities regarding the
‘ProduTrainment’ trend which focuses on offering not just a product but also entertainment to the
consumer by mixing production with entertainment.
This consumer focus was echoed by Jonas Wand, chief sales officer and Louise Leuchtenberger, head
of marketing and PR at Germany’s Foursource Group – a global B2B platform for apparel and textile
sourcing. The speakers introduced a case study of Mammut Sports Group who intends to be a digital
leader in the outdoor sportswear industry. They presented some parts of the interview with CEO of
Mammut, Dr Oliver Pabst, in which he said the decision behind this was to be ‘faster and closer to
the consumer’.
The speakers said that ‘direct connection of all the partners in this industry will speed up the entire
process’ and emphasised the importance of solutions and data processing that go to the source and
enable direct connection. This, they said, is particularly important due to the emergence of new
direct competitors, such as vertically integrated companies and e-commerce players who can easily
understand consumer trends, translate them into their offering and deliver them with high speed.
Smart clothes
Marius Janta, senior project manager, research, application and BD, WT | Wearable Technologies,
Germany, discussed the need for smart textiles in today’s sporting goods industry. This is primarily
because they enable more user interfaces to be integrated into products, generating new user
experiences. One way of implementing smart technologies into textiles is through RFID tags, which
provide new information to the customer and new solutions to brands and manufacturers. They can
be sewn into the jacket and record data via a smart phone.
“We need to give smart textile platforms a chance to increase product value with heating and
lighting applications and vital sign monitoring etc to take a health-orientated approach,” said Janta,
who added that the smart textiles market will be one of the biggest growth markets in the next five
years because it “tackles a very important theme of our everyday life”.
Materials disruptions
Another presentation by Kanji Kajiwara from the Faculty of Textile Science and Technology, Shinshu
University in Japan, focused on the important role fabrics and materials play in sporting goods.
Kajiwara reviewed high-performance materials developments and showed how much we can learn
from nature. His presentation included some examples of exciting materials inspired by nature. One
of them is Spiber – a lab-made spider silk which draws on the great properties of natural spider silk,
including a toughness that is said to be much stronger than nylon and carbon fibre.
Smart manufacturing
The last presentation focused on Industry 4.0 applications for industrial parks, by Professor George
Huang, Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, The University of Hong
Kong, China. According to Huang, “operations are very complicated in the physical word, but once
they are converted into the digital space, things are very simple because everything is based on
Huang said that in the future, instead of using expensive warehouses, “we will achieve zero
warehouse manufacturing, where visibility and traceability hedges time risk in inventory
Summing up this year’s forum, moderator Edwin Keh suggested that we need to allocate more room
to conduct experiments and try new things. He also said that “there is an opportunity to create some
sort of platform for collaboration so that we can think like an ecosystem rather than a one-off side
specialist, because what we talked about is bigger than what any one organisation can do on its
This year’s edition of the World Manufacturers Forum was partnered by DESMA, Delta and L&E
International, alongside media partners Just Style, WTiN and Bike Europe.