Fitness Trade Shows to Attend in China & Success Tips -IWF Shanghai Expo

Trade shows are effective tools for sport nutrition brands and marketers to unveil their latest and greatest product innovation and connect with distributors and consumers. If your brand already has a distributor in China, you might consider working with your distributor and investing in a trade show booth to build brand awareness, drew media attention and attract new consumers. If your brand is in its early market entry stage, for business development purposes, attending a local trade show helps your team get a better understanding of the industry outlook and trends in China. 

There are three major fitness trade shows in China. This article will focus on IWF Heath, Wellness and Fitness Expo, which will be held in Shanghai on March 7th -9th.

About IWF

IWF Expo has only been around for five years but quickly became one of the key events in China’s Fitness industry. In addition to exhibition, there are also fitness competitions, business forums and conferences, and training for fitness professionals. The exhibition encompasses vendors from a broad range of segments within fitness industry including fitness equipment, club chain businesses, wearable technology, sport apparel, personal trainer academies, sport nutrition, as well as beauty and spa businesses.

International visitors and exhibitors will find it easier to find information about this expo and navigate the venue because the organizer provides comprehensive information in English. This can be attributed to the fact that the organizer has more experience managing international events at a large scale. Another example, IWF partners with several hotels and provides shuttle bus services between hotels and the exhibition hall, which makes it very convenient for international visitors.

Attendance Statics from Previous Years

Year Attendance

2018 47,176

2017 33,697

2016 24,613

2015 16,257

2014 9,673

Estimated Scale for IWF 2019

Exhibiting Area: 85000 square meters

Brands: 700+

Profession Buyers: 70000+

According to IWF Expo, in 2018, 38.84% attendants expressed interest in Sport Nutrition and Supplement, or around 18,323 people. Popular fitness trade shows like Arnold and Mr. Olympia in the United States attract large number of fitness enthusiast and consumers. While the majority of the attendants of IWF are fitness professionals who works in fitness industry in some shape or form. With sport nutrition being a niche industry, bringing your brand to a fitness trade show in China is one of the effective approaches to reach targeted Chinese consumers and businesses.

2019 Exhibited Brands and Distributors (updated as of 2/18)

●      Domestic Brands: CPT, NutriMax, GymMax, UN Group, Betale

●      International Brands: Optimum Nutrition, Muscle Tech, Nutrend, ProSupps, Labrada, BioTech, XNative, Viking Force, Activ Lab, SELF, Kevin Levron, Muscle Pharm, Glanbia, Forge IronMaxx, Met-Rx, Dymatize, Harmonies, Putaner, Superior 14, IVC,

●      Distributors and Platforms: Uzen, iFitbox, QNT, Nutrition Depot. (some distributors manage the brands’ booth)

Tips to Make the Most Your Visit

Whether your brand plans to have a trade show booth or your sales team just want to visit the show and arrange meetings with customers, with the time, money and resources invested, it is vital to make the best of it. Here are 4 trade show tips to have a successful business visit in China.

1. Preparation is Key

If you don’t have a Chinese visa, make sure start planning the trip around two months in advance. Your flight itinerary and hotel booking confirmation are required to be submitted along with your visa application documents. The easiest way is to find a travel agency to take care of your visa application. They will review your documents and make sure they have the right information before sending submitting it to the Chinese embassy and consulate.

If you are an exhibitor and working with your distributors in China to design and set up a trade show booth and plan marketing activities, also make sure you plan 2-3 months in advance. Chinese New Year is usually about a month ahead of IWF. Companies usually shut down for at least a week during the holidays and many staff take personal vacations before or after the holiday. It will be a rush trying to finish the design of the booth after the holidays, brands might have to pay extra for rush services.

Due to customs regulations, it is almost impossible to ship unregistered new products to China via Fedex, DHL or UPS. Your team can bring products with them in suitcases. Again, plan in advance.

A trade show attendant is scanning a QR code to learn more about a brand on WeChat.

2. WeChat Rules—Download the App and Create an Account

WeChat has become more than an instant message social app. People can use WeChat to make voice and video calls, book flights and hotels, pay utility bills, read news and even do online shopping. The app is so popular that business contacts are often no longer exchanging phone numbers, but exchanging WeChat ID as their default form of keeping in touch.

If you have business card and company flyers, adding the QR code of your WeChat ID to them will make it easier for distributors and consumers reach you.

If your company has already set up a verified business WeChat account, and has professionally translated brand and product information updated online, the trade show is a great opportunity to drew customers and have them subscribe your company page. For future content published on your WeChat account, subscribers will receive notifications. Your marketing team can also create campaigns to target subscribers. 

3. Apps to Use When Travelling in China


Since Google is blocked in China, Bing is widely used among expats in China. Bing has Chinese and International two versions. Bing’s international version produces similar level of relevance found in U.S. search engines.

Dear Translate

Other than text and voice translation, this app also has AR (Augmented Realty) translation feature which you can scan a Chinese text and get instant machine translation displayed on your camera.

DiDi ChuXing

Since Uber China was merged with DiDi ChuXing, DiDi is the main app people use to travel around large metro areas. You do need to have a Chinese phone number in order to sign up a DiDi account. You can get a SIM card in the airports. As for payment, it is possible to pay for fares with your WeChat Wallet, Alipay, QQ wallet, bank card and international credit card.

4. Network, Network, Network

Many brands’ trade show booths are managed by their distributors. Making contact with them can lead to potential opportunities. China’s sport nutrition industry is growing but it is still considered as a small segment within the fitness industry. Many sport equipment suppliers, fitness training academies and sports apparel suppliers also have booths at IWF. If your schedule allows, don’t limit your interactions to just potential vendors, but also network with other exhibitors. There can be potential partnership opportunities as these businesses essentially share the same target consumers. You never know if any of these companies are interested in entering the sport nutrition industry as distributors or investors.

Still, trade show is a costly marketing channel in itself. Successful marketers incorporate digital marketing tactics to reach people in multiple and organic ways throughout their day. Continue to follow up with your contacts after the show to keep the conversation going. Publish shareable content on your social media to reach people who couldn’t enjoy the experience in real-time. It’s also important to use the attendee data and images and videos collected during the event to drive awareness and continue the buzz around your brand.


For more information on IWF, please visit

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