Surfing the wave of the latest Chinese hype – Land Surfing

Forget glamping and Frisbee, a new hobby has become Gen Z’s favorite pastime: land surfing. In parks and plazas across China, young locals can be spotted swinging on long skateboards, moving their bodies as if they were surfing the waves. In the past two years alone, 6 million citizens have embraced waterless recreation.

Land surfing is a type of skateboarding and is similar to surfing and skiing. The sport has quickly gained popularity among younger cohorts thanks to its relatively low barrier to entry – it is inexpensive and easy to experience. Also, unlike skiing which requires a specific location, land surfing can be practiced in non-coastal and mountainous areas.

The hype is provided by celebrities like Ouyang Nana and Peng Yuyan, who share images of themselves practicing the sport on social media. According Data from Xiaohongshu, searches for “land surfing” have increased significantly since February of this year. In May 2022, the number of related positions increased by 460% year-on-year, reflecting the potential of the sector.

According to data from Xiaohongshu, searches for “land surfing” increased 460% year-on-year in May. Photo: Xiaohongshu Screenshots

Danni Liu, General Manager of the iBLUE Communications Europe and US office, believes that the strong social aspect of the activity has helped it become popular so quickly. “By taking photos and videos of themselves surfing the earth, people can create a cool, trendy and distinctive image on social media,” she explained. Many have formed their own online communities to share their experience and make friends with like-minded people. Land surfing enthusiast based in Beijing Lan Duo created a group in April: in four months, it had amassed more than 1,500 members.

Given this popularity, sales of skateboards have also increased significantly. Douyin e-commerce data shows skateboard product sales growth increased by 353 percent in 2021. And despite local manufacturers offerings coming in cheaper at $115-220 (800-1400 RMB) than their international rivals’ prices of $190-500 (1300-3500 RMB), gGlobal companies specializing in skateboarding are preferred by domestic consumers given their proven expertise in the field. “For example, the aluminum alloy of the front axle support part, its ratio determines the strength, ductility and strength of the material. It takes years of testing to achieve the best effect,” shared Jia XudongChinese president of the land surfing brand Carver.

Since the beginning of this year, the transactions of labels imported on Small Global posted triple-digit year-over-year growth. Popular ones on the platform include Spanish establishment Yow and Penny from Australia. In June, more companies entered the market – 15 overseas companies, including pioneering surf line Carver and veteran name Santa Cruz, landed on Tmall Global.

Clearly, the fledgling industry is increasingly crowded and players will need to work harder to consolidate their market share. For example, Spanish skateboarding outfit Yow collaborated with Japanese denim group Moussy to host an offline land surfing event in Wuhan for female surfers. “Physical initiative helps build brand affinity and stay at the top of consumers’ minds,” Liu said. Given the current COVID outbreaks, offline activities may be at risk in the short term due to potential blockages; however, over time physical events will drive consumer engagement and loyalty.

Spanish skateboarding outfit Yow has collaborated with Japanese denim group Moussy to host an offline land surfing event in Wuhan for female surfers. Photo: Moussy

The hype around activities like Frisbee, camping and land surfing only illustrates the continent’s continued rise in love for niche sports and outdoor pursuits. In light of this, the equipment and sportswear created for these scenarios will generate sales. Good news for brands looking to ride the wave.

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