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Flying discs soar in popularity among all ages

By LIU YUKUN | China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-31 09:24
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Teenagers participate in a flying disc training summer camp held in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, in mid-August. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Trending sport goes viral for social aspect, less physical contact, fun competition, aiming for bigger market share

When a group of college students started their flying disc business back in 2008 in China, few of them could imagine the then little-known sport would have such a big popularity spurt across the country this summer, or that their company would grow to become among the best-of-class in China.

Flying discs are known throughout most of the world by the registered trademarked name "Frisbee".It is a recreational and competitive sport that originated in the US and is now increasingly finding favor among Chinese consumers.

"It was a very niche market and we founded it merely based on the enthusiasm towards the sport rather than the idea of making a bunch of money. Luckily, the sport developed so rapidly in the past decade and saw a popularity boom this year. We are eyeing over 100 percent in revenue growth by the year-end to reach about 100 million yuan ($14.49 million) despite uncertainties from the COVID-19 pandemic," said Xu Yingfeng, founder and CEO of Yikun Discs, headquartered in Hangzhou and Ningbo, Zhejiang province.

As of mid-August, players posted over 510,000 customer reviews about playing the sport on Xiaohongshu, a major lifestyle-sharing platform in China, and the activity became a trending topic several times on social media platforms like Weibo and Douyin. The posts, using vivid descriptions, well-taken pictures and videos, as well as a large number of interactive comments, went viral and soon spread to other platforms.

Posters and followers used words like happy, trendy, interesting, competitive, free, fat-burning, exciting and cool to describe the sport.

A research institute under media agency 36kr said flying disc games now surpass skateboarding, cycling and other sports to become one of the most popular sports among young people, with about 60 percent of people surveyed saying they tend to make new friends and expand their social circles through playing the game.

According to the Chinese Flying Disc Administrative Committee, about 500,000 people in China participated in flying disc sports last year, creating a market value surpassing 80 million yuan. Data from Tianyancha, a Chinese corporate information provider, showed that over 120 companies whose businesses are related to the sport are registered in China as of June.

Beijing-based 32-year-old Cheng Jin is a fan of flying disc games. "It's getting hard to make new friends at my age when all of my time is spent either on work or the family. Playing it is a good way to expand my social circle as my friends engaged in the game would invite their friends. The more, the merrier."

"In addition, the sport is quite easy, so I don't need to spend a lot of time and energy learning about the rules or the skills to enjoy it. It is also quite safe to play as the sport barely requires physical contact," she said.

The report said about 47 percent of the post-90s generation surveyed said they are interested in the sport, which is the highest proportion among all age groups. Roughly 44 percent of the post-85 generation surveyed showed interest in the sport, and 27 percent of the post-00s generation surveyed liked to play flying disc sports.

Expanding to all age groups, a recent report by iiMedia Research showed about 81.2 percent of the 1,442 respondents surveyed have participated in flying disc games. Among them, 50.8 percent of people have played it for one and a half years, while 26.1 percent of people have played for half a year.

Involving social interactions, less physical contact and high customer stickiness are key factors that the iiMedia report attributes to the game's increasing popularity in China.

The number of people who participated in flying disc sports twice a week accounted for the largest proportion, reaching 42.8 percent. Among them, 61 percent said they spent about 60 minutes in each round of a game, according to iiMedia Research.

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