Bayern cashes in on Chinese fans' frenzy for European soccer

Updated: 2015-05-28 07:29

By Emma Gonzalez / Li Xiang(China Daily USA)

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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 Group Holding Ltd's Tmall Global platform.

The club has also partnered with German logistics company DHL International 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, women and 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 when buying 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 fast-growing 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.

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Bayern cashes in on Chinese fans' frenzy for European soccer

(China Daily USA 05/28/2015 page13)