Gradually enter the public’s view from the minority hobby
How far can the “camping fever” that depends on the weather go
One night three years ago, the post-95 male students who worked in the Internet industry carbonized pine nuts and friends went to the beach outside Shanghai to experience a camping trip. Late at night, he sat alone by the campfire, watching the kerosene lamp above the tent swaying gently under the sea breeze, and felt everything around him was quiet.
Now, riding a motorcycle to camp on weekends has become a part of carbonated pine nut’s daily life. He has to camp at least twice a month. In the past two years, he has noticed that more and more people are experiencing this outdoor activity.
The popularity of camping topics on social media also confirms the discovery of carbonated pine nuts. As of June 30 this year, more than 290000 notes related to “camping” have been searched on the social platform Little Red Book, involving the choice of camping sites, camping equipment brands, camping play and other aspects.
When camping has gradually stepped into the public view from a minority hobby, new market demand is also brewing.
I found myself different in the camp
As a camping up owner, Carbonate Pine likes to share his camping experience with others, but he also pays great attention to privacy. He appears in the video wearing a helmet and does not disclose his real identity. Camping alone is a way of decompression he chooses for himself.
“I like to go to camping places in the mountains or the seaside alone, and my mind will be empty, and I will slowly relax my whole body and mind.”. From the perspective of carbonized pine nuts, contact with nature and freedom are the essence of camping culture. In terms of the choice of campsites, he prefers to pay for campsites with basic facilities such as drinking water, internet and toilets.
Van, a post-80s media practitioner, explored more “playing methods” from the perspective of family camping. “Camping can contain many scenes, from setting up camp, preparing food, cooking, to handicrafts, sports, making friends, basically all family members can find their own relaxation methods in the camp.” Van, who rarely cooks, “unlocked” outdoor cooking skills in the camp, “in the camp, we expect to find different people.”.
Van’s son is in the first grade of primary school this year. Van and his family will match different parent-child activities in the camp. “I prefer campsites with wild interests and restrained artificial facilities. I also took my children to try fishing, paddling, surfing, hiking, cave exploration and other projects, but I think camping brings him more subtle effects, such as how family members cooperate outdoors, what to pay attention to when socializing with other children, how to deal with negative emotions, and so on.” Van said. Camping more often, Van often updates his camping notes on the social platform under the name of “Feng Van Ji”.
In the view of Van and Carbonized Pine Nuts, as an outdoor activity, camping has high requirements for campers’ outdoor knowledge storage and equipment, and there is a certain threshold. “New people can participate in the ‘bag check-in’ camping first to see if they can adapt to the outdoor overnight”.
Entrepreneurial inspiration of “check in”
Before 2020, Zhu Xian was the founder of an outbound travel company. Xiao Yun and her husband operated an outdoor wedding photography studio for domestic tourists in Thailand.
In an epidemic, Zhu Xian and Xiao Yun’s company pressed the “pause button”, and the camping came into their sight at this time. “Since the outbreak of the epidemic, people are more willing to play in the natural scene with open space. In this psychological situation, camping is not only connected with nature, but also has a certain degree of privacy, and the heat has also increased.” Zhu Xian said.
By chance, Xiao Yun came to Yanzhou Island, Huizhou City, Guangdong Province. Having already “gone into the pit” for camping, she caught a glimpse of the original ecological environment of Yanzhou Island surrounded by mountains and seas. She immediately rented a house and gradually transformed it into a small white house camp. The camp tent area can accommodate up to 30 camp seats, half of which can be “checked in”, and the other half is prepared for campers with their own tents. “If the guests are not used to sleeping in tents, we still have two homestays,” said Xiao Yun.
Xiaoyun pays attention to the “small and beautiful” of the camp, while Zhu Xian’s camping project is more commercial and large-scale.
In the process of self-driving camping with his family, Zhu Xian bought camping equipment along the way, ranging from tents and sleeping bags to mosquito repellent and compressed towels, according to popular recommendations on social platforms. A long list of camping equipment showed Zhu Xian the potential of this industry.
“How many people are willing to buy so many equipment to experience a camping trip? If the threshold is lowered, and these equipment are prepared in advance, making it possible to live in a bag, how many people are willing to try?” Zhu Xian said.
In September 2020, Zhu Xian and his friends established the camping brand “Hot Wilderness”. In less than a year, they opened 14 campsites in Sanya, Huizhou, Zhuhai, Wuhan, Beijing and other cities, mainly for the first time to try camping.
The “hot wilderness” mainly attracts two types of guests: parents with children and young people who like to share information on social platforms. Although there are differences in customer groups, guests’ needs for comfort and convenience are the same.
“We adopt the mode of sharing profits with hotels, scenic spots and private owners. Relatively speaking, the investment is relatively small, and the cost is mainly reflected in the camping equipment and personnel compensation. At the same time, guests can also enjoy a relatively mature water and electricity network, supporting facilities and security system, which can experience outdoor life without suffering too much outdoor inconvenience.” Zhu Xian said.
Will camping be a “gust of wind”
According to the enterprise survey data, there are currently 21000 campsite related enterprises in China. 2020 is the explosive period of the number of related enterprises. The number of registered enterprises in the whole year is 7933, with a year-on-year increase of 331.6%. The number of registered enterprises in the first five months of this year is 6941, with a year-on-year increase of 286.5%.
The market is hot, and there are many problems in the operation of the camp.
“The maintenance of the campsite is a long-term work, and the details should be done in place. Previously, when we camped in a camp in Qingyuan, Guangdong, we encountered a rainstorm, and a big tree fell less than 4 meters away from the tent, which is really dangerous. The reason for the resumption should be related to the vacancy of the camp after the epidemic in 2020, and the managers did not insist on checking.” Van said.
The operation of the campsite is also affected by various outdoor factors such as season and weather. “Camping is also dependent on the weather. When the weather changes and the season changes, it is not easy to carry out camping. We have set up campsites around the country, which is also taken into account,” said Zhu Xian.
Xiaoyun’s Xiaobaiwu camp in Huizhou is affected by the local drought and epidemic, and has received little revenue since its opening. “It was unexpected before, and this industry is full of uncertainties”. In order to increase income, Xiaoyun plans to add commercial photography, skateboarding experience courses, summer camps and other services at the campsite.
Zhu Xian is also exploring more “camping+” games with his team. “We are trying to integrate with more local scenic spots. For example, we are cooperating with Hebei Chongli Taiwu Ski Resort recently. Guests can stay in Taiwu Town for one night first, and then go to the campsite to set up tents and bake bonfires the next day to have a richer experience.”.
The “popular” picnics on social media almost the same time as camping are now silent. Will camping also be a “gust of wind”?
In Van’s view, this is a process of scouring the sand with great waves. “Everyone will rush to do what is popular, but what can stay after the boom is outstanding in commercial or professional aspects. Camping is still in its infancy in China, and there is still a long way to go.”.
Zhu Xian believes that “it is difficult to predict what new trends will emerge from camping in the future. We can only iterate products step by step according to the needs of young people. After all, the era of ‘one move’ has long passed”.