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Temptation of the sports marketing cake
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2006-04-18 09:38

By He Dongxian

2006 is the year of the World Cup, and 2008 is the year of Olympic Games, the first of its kind that ever holds in China. Because of these chances, sports marketing has attracted more and more concerns and favors from Chinese enterprises, becoming a big cake that large numbers of enterprises are eager to taste. Meanwhile, it is also a test paper that enterprises have to confront.

Golden time

With the popularity of TV and the improvement of the transmission technology, sports games have broken through the limits of time and space, and the impact of sports has been greatly reinforced. Smart businessmen have long realized the infinite business chances incubated in sports. The equity and fairness worshipped by physical activities will further improve manufacturers' publicity effects and brand values to a higher level. While between 2006 and 2008, China will certainly enjoy exceptional advantages in the sports marketing.

According to the International Olympic Committee, a series of testing matches are required to be held before 2008 Beijing Olympic Games so as to examine the functions of gymnasiums and stadiums, determine contest organizations, adjust operational plans and integrate sports teams. Generally speaking, top-level athletes of various sports events are normally willing to take part in these testing matches in order to adapt themselves well to sports fields and environment. Consequently, this has provided wider space than ever before for the enterprises that are willing to engage in sports marketing.

Temptation of the cake

Being an alluring cake, sports marketing appears extraordinarily attractive. An experiential investigation from the United States shows that 64 percent of the respondents are relatively willing to purchase products of sports sponsors. 38 percent of the Coca Cola consumers across the world buy the product mainly because it is the designated drink by the Olympic Games. An internationally authoritative investigation company estimates that with the same investment, the returns from sports support to enterprises are three times of that from regular advertisements. At present sports support has accounted for 88 percent of the total support in the world (generally reported to be 71 percent), becoming the "absolute authority" in the support field. It is estimated that by the year 2010 over USD50 billion will be spent to sponsor sports events by enterprises all over the world.

What returns will such tremendous investments bring about to enterprises? Surely the brand value. Anyone who is familiar with sports marketing cases will firstly think of Samsung. Since the 1986 Asian Games, Samsung appears wherever a large-scale sports event is held. It has taken sports marketing as its key marketing strategy. The brand value of Samsung achieved USD14.9 billion by 2005, ranking the twentieth in the world and being evaluated as one of the fastest developing brands all over the world. Sports marketing contributes a great deal to the achievements. An investigation from the Athens Olympic Games showed that after the games consumers' favorability toward Samsung improved by 7 percent, the firstly-mentioned popularity by six percent, the non-mentioned popularity by five percent, and purchasing desire by 7%. 

Is there anyone who doesn't aspire for such great success?

Really understanding sports marketing

If one wants to make profits from sports marketing, one must have a thorough understanding of it- in the ways of sports support, titling, inviting sports star as the spokesman of the product, customizing the product design to the sports culture and purchasing advertisements, etc. to combine the sports culture and enterprise brand culture. These are the complete requirements of sports marketing.

However some enterprises tend to limit sports marketing to sports support. They are not hesitant to spend large amount of money on sports support while failing to carry out other corresponding jobs. As a result, the functions of sports marketing are not able to perform well, resulting in great waste of resources. Take the Olympic Games as the example, the International Olympic Committee has enacted a variety of restrictions and disciplines on sponsoring, forbidding any advertising on the sports ground of the Games as well as direct titling sponsoring. Consequently, sponsors have to find new ways to carry out advertising, public relations and sales promotion, and popularize their brands in the public welfare activities, sports culture activities, on-scene reception, image expression, and the development of Olympic Games intellectual property rights. Only in this way can the ideal effects be achieved.

According to relevant information, more than RMB10 billion have had been spent on sports support in the past nearly two decades, but the final effect in not that satisfactory as expected. So the enterprises need to remain calm when participating in the sports marketing.

Giving satisfying answers to the test paper of sports marketing

In spite of many unsuccessful examples, more and more enterprises will set foot on the sports marketing field. Large enterprises boast dominant advantages in the high-end sports events (for instance, the two intervals of Ads time in CCTV for the live broadcast of German World Cup and the exclusive titling of the shooter-list were overbid by a domestic telecom tycoon with more than RMB 100 million). SMEs have their own suitable choices as well. Whatever choices are made, they have to give satisfying answers to the test paper of sports marketing. 

The basic function of sports marketing is to establish and improve the relations between enterprises and consumers. During the 2002 World Cup, a washing-powder manufacturing enterprise simply adopted the marketing strategy of offering buyers football tickets. However, its consumption group was mainly household wife oriented rather than football fan oriented; consequently, it was very hard for the enterprise to achieve the expected effects with such a strategy. Enterprises must employ the idea of integrating marketing so that to be engaged in sports marketing, making consumers recognize their brands by blending the sports culture into the brand culture. 
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