Bay­ern cashes in on Chi­nese fans’ frenzy for Euro­pean soc­cer

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By EM­MAGON­ZA­LEZ and LI XIANG

Europe’s most pow­er­ful soc­cer teams are start­ing to an­nounce part­ner­ships and busi­ness deals in China in ad­vance of sum­mer tours to the coun­try.

The lat­est to re­veal a cor­po­rate tie-up is newly crowned Ger­man cham­pi­ons FC Bay­ern Mu­nich with the in­au­gu­ra­tion on Wed­nes­day of an of­fi­cial and ex­clu­sive on­line flag­ship store on e-com­merce gi­ant Alibaba GroupHold­ing Ltd’s Tmall Global plat­form.

The club has also part­nered with Ger­man lo­gis­tics com­pa­nyDHLIn­ter­na­tional GmbH to set up the of­fi­cial mer­chan­dise store­front, which is ex­clu­sively di­rected at Chi­nese con­sumers.

Jorg Wacker, ex­ec­u­tive board mem­ber of in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion and strat­egy at Bay­ern, said: “China con­tin­ues to be our key fo­cus mar­ket and plays an im­por­tant role in our in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion strat­egy. For our mar­ket en­try in China, Tmall Global is the best plat­form since many of our fans al­ready use it.”

The store­front will al­low Chi­nese fans to buy a wide va­ri­ety of club mer­chan­dise rang­ing from ap­parel for men, wom­e­nand chil­dren to other prod­ucts such as Bavar­ian-style cloth­ing.

Thomas Kipp, CEO of DHL E-Com­merce, said the launch re­ceived an over­whelm­ing re­sponse from its Chi­nese fans.

“The sales pro­cessed on Tmall’s store­front dur­ing the open­ing day ex­ceeded the vol­ume of monthly or­ders that the team’s Ger­man of­fi­cial mer­chan­dise web­site might re­ceive from China.”

DHL’s sup­ply chain is vi­tal to the process, in that Bay­ern fans in China will now re­ceive of­fi­cial mer­chan­dise from over­seas through Tmall within 10 days, com­pared to a pre­vi­ous de­liv­ery pe­riod of up to three weeks when­buy­ing from the team’s web­site in Ger­many.

Bay­ern al­ready has nearly 90 mil­lion fol­low­ers in the coun­try and the club re­mains con­fi­dent that it can in­crease its fan base through the shop­ping plat­form and its Audi Sum­mer Tour China in July.

The Bun­desliga cham­pi­ons will play three matches in China that month against Italy’s In­ter Mi­lan, Spain’s Va­len­cia and Guangzhou Ever­grande as part of its ef­forts to tap into the fast­grow­ing soc­cer mar­ket.

Bay­ern is the lat­est ad­di­tion to a list of Euro­pean clubs ramp­ing up their pro­mo­tional ef­forts in China to cap­ti­vate both the gen­eral public and Chi­nese in­vestors.

Phil Car­ling, man­ag­ing direc­tor at sports mar­ket­ing com­pany Oc­tagon, said: “All the elite for­eign leagues and clubs are in­ter­ested in grow­ing their brands and fan bases in China. Out­side of the United States, China is prob­a­bly the sec­ond most tar­geted mar­ket for growth.”

In March, Spain’s Real Madrid signed its first spon­sor­ship deal in China with lo­cal elec­tric car man­u­fac­turer Zhe­jiang Luyuan Elec­tric Ve­hi­cle Co Ltd, be­fore its own July sum­mer tour in the coun­try.

Real’s city ri­val Atletico de Madrid se­cured a deal in Fe­bru­ary to open 200 of­fi­cial prod­uct cor­ners in Dalian Wanda Group’s malls across China.

Wang Jian­lin, the owner of the na­tion’s big­gest prop­erty de­vel­oper group, now owns a 20 per­cent stake in the Span­ish team. Con­tact the writ­ers at lix­i­ang@chi­ and em­magon­za­lez@ chi­

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