Maia Active was founded in 2016 by Lisa Ou and Mia Wang and is a Chinese designer sportswear brand for Asian women. Through the development of technical sports fabrics and the use of fashionable elements and colors, the Chinese fitness apparel brand designs active-wear that fits Asian bodies and is regarded as a fashionable brand.
In 2020, the brand has received the “consumer brand of the year” at the EDGE awards, only 4 years after Maia Active was established.
Designed for Asian women’s bodies
Maia Active’s products are inspired by the problems that Asian women face while exercising. This has led to the development of the sports bra with a zipper in front of the body and the waist-cinching legging which pulls in belly fat and makes girls look slimmer. Due to its unique design, this brand has become popular in a short time and has gained a good reputation.
Source: In depth interview by Brandstar designed by Daxue consulting, Maia Active was designed for Asian women
Strategy 1: Actively manage consumer relationships with events and surveys
The brand applies a DTC (direct-to-consumer) strategy by collecting consumers feedback of brand’s clothing quality and shopping experience through questionnaires every three months. Then the brands adapts products based on this feedback.
All consumer feedback is collected and used as the basis for design and product iteration. For example, the popular leggings 小腰精 were adjusted at least 10 times based on consumers feedback and opinions.
Source: In depth interview by Brandstar designed by Daxue consulting, how Maia Active receives feedback from consumers
The Chinese fitness apparel brand also holds offline community activities under the MAIA FUN CLUB. The offline community is not sales oriented, but focuses on building a connection between the brand and its consumers and strengthening their stickiness.
The core of Maia Active community activities is based on the element of “fun”. The brand hosts offline social activities such as yoga with dogs, belly dancing and indoor bungee jumping.
Strategy 2: Inviting diverse consumers to model in ads
In terms of connecting with consumers emotionally, the Chinese fitness apparel brand launched the “I’m not pretty” branding project and started experimenting by using its own consumers, not just celebrities, to endorse the brand. Maia active invited 7 consumers to play in its publicity film and encouraged them to express their ideas about “beauty” emphasizing its brand slogan “make every size beautiful”. Consequently, this special strategy succeeded in attracting more consumers to join comments on their social media posts.
Strategy 3: Distinguish from competitors with clear product functions
The product detail pages of many big brands nowadays only have a few pictures and just tell consumers the basic information of sizes and fabrics. On e-commerce platforms such as Tmall or Taobao, Maia Active uses lively and detailed description photos to explain its products’ functions to the consumers, distinguishing itself from other sportswear brands.
Source: 36kr designed by Daxue consulting
Strategy 4: Provide hands-on shopping experience in offline shops
Maia Active has 8 offline stores located in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities in high-end areas.
The offline unit price is 1.5 times higher than online because it is easier to recommend and connect orders when selling offline, resulting in high turnover and high conversion rate.
Source: In depth interview by Brandstar designed by Daxue consulting, Maia Active offline stores
The “Fabric Lab” can be found in each offline store, where consumers can feel unique fabrics used in their products.
Strategy 5: Transform into a designer brand through co-branding
In order to promote the brand’s tone of fashion and give the brand more exposure opportunities toward the target consumers, the Chinese fitness apparel brand collaborated with independent designer brands and brands with a large group of white-collar consumers in tier-1 cities, such as the bike-sharing brand Mobike and fitness club SUPERMONKEY.
Source: Elle China designed by Daxue consulting, Maia Active co-branding campaigns
Problems: Poor after-sales service and design flaws
Many consumers complain about the poor after-service and shopping experience. In addition some people found the products such as leggings and bras are not as comfortable as Maia Active advertised.
Source: Zhihu, Taobao and Weibo designed by Daxue consulting, Maia Active pain points
Key points to learn from Maia Active strategy in the Chinese sportswear market
- Maia Active focuses on creating products that fit Asian women bodies. The brand designs are fashionable and solve the problems that Asian women face while exercising such as sports bra with a front zip and waist-cinching leggings.
- In terms of marketing, the Chinese sports apparel brand applies a direct-to-consumer strategy with constant feedback from customers and offline events that build a connection between the brand and its customers. The sportswear brand also invites consumers to be their models in ads, in that way Maia active can attract more consumers that relate to the consumers in the ads.
- Maia Active offline shops allow customers to have a customized experience with “Fabric Lab” despite a higher price than online stores. The brand achieves a high turnover and conversion rate in the offline stores.
- The sportswear brand needs to work on their after sales service and design flaws as many consumers complain on social media which affects the brand image of Maia Active.