Tents and glamping remain popular
The Covid-19 crisis in China has caused a further decline in domestic tourism. According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 160 million trips were made during the five-day Labor Day vacation. This represents a 30.2% drop from the previous year. Even regions and provinces that were not affected by the April closures saw their travel opportunities limited. Long-distance travel was prohibited unless absolutely necessary.
Camping was an excellent option. On WeChat, it looked like friends were taking the COVID-19 test or camping outside during the Labor Day period. The first day of Labor Day saw an unprecedented increase in “camping” searches via the Ctrip travel platform. This was a 90% increase from the previous week. Similarly, on the ticketing site LY.com, searches for “camping” increased by 117%.
Although the “Year of Camping,” which was supposed to take place in 2020, is two years old, tents and glamping remain popular.
The main camping moment
China’s 2020 Covid-19 outbreak sparked the camping craze. Vacations were a compromise as international travel was difficult and domestic travel limited. Camping is a great way to satisfy social distancing rules while enjoying nature.
Camping became more common and people started sharing photos of it on social media. The number of camping-related posts on Xiaohongshu increased fivefold in 2021. Many young urbanites use camping to meet new people. The 2021 “Gen Z and Camping Community” report, jointly published by Soul and Taobao, found that 78% of those surveyed after 95 years old thought camping was a good way to form lasting relationships. It is also pet-friendly and fits in with China’s booming pet industry.
Users can find glamping inspiration on Xiaohongshu.
According to Xiana Chin (senior marketing manager at ChatLabs), camping meets Generation Z’s need for a balanced lifestyle. “Camping is an escape from the noise and hustle of daily life and provides a way to find relaxation and calm, the so-called ‘return to normal life.”
The average Chinese camper spends $1,038 (RMB 6,995.3) on glamping in 2021. This has created a variety of business models that allow for integration with other hot industries such as coffee, cinema, and LARP. Tianyancha, which tracks business registrations, reports that there were 56,000 camping-related businesses in China in May. Nearly 70 percent of these businesses were established after 2020.
The future of camping in China?
It’s clear that camping has brought hope to China’s stagnant tourism sector. According to Tech.China.com, it was Ctrip, China’s largest online travel agency, that promoted camping and launched its camping-themed travel recommendations. It covered 120 cities in 28 Chinese provinces.
In an effort to make up for losses due to the pandemic, hard-hit hotels also took advantage of the trend. Luxury hotels such as Shangri La and Le Meridien offered a camping experience at a fraction of the price. This appealed to tourists in cities like Sanya and Hainan.
Outdoor brands and especially profitable players are the main beneficiaries. The outdoor clothing and equipment market has grown in quantity and variety since camping became commonplace. However, not all brands are the best choices. They need to focus on the social aspect of camping and allow for customization if they decide to enter the market. Outdoor brands need to offer both stylish and functional gear to embrace the growing glamping trend.
Stylish and functional amenities to embrace the growing glamping trend
It’s something some brands are already doing: Louis Vuitton’s 2019 2054 men’s collection was inspired by the outdoors. Its Monogram backpack trunks can transform into camping tents. Prada’s Outdoor collection combines gardening, coffee, and glamping to showcase its new offering. Fendi created an indoor campsite at Shanghai’s IAPM mall last June. It included a yellow tent with the FF logo.
And it’s not over yet. Bosideng is China’s largest manufacturer of down clothing. This month, Anakiki, an independent Chinese fashion brand, collaborated with him. The collaboration has resulted in a line of outdoor camping gear.
Is it too late to make a mark in the Chinese camping market?
Shanghai’s revival after months of closure could give the camping trend a new lease on life. “I think the camping trend will not only survive but also thrive,” said Xiana Chin. She stayed in Shanghai for two months and was eager to travel outdoors. According to Xiana Chin, camping not only compensates for the inability to travel abroad but also replaces months of lost social interaction.
Before Shanghai was cordoned off, Xuhui Riverside Park was a popular place for camping. The tents were so crowded every weekend that they looked like a wilderness campground. The truth is that Shanghai people did not refuse to camp. There are more than 1,000 posts about this place on Xiaohongshu. The platform, although niche, is an indicator of taste. Back to the original question: Is it too late to allow new players to enter the camping market in China? Let’s let them stake their claim and see what happens.