Ask a random westerner about sport in China, and they may rattle off Olympic swimming women, ping pong stars, badminton legends and a basketballer. Considering its population, China isn’t well known for its sporting prowess. Nevertheless, like most segments in China, sport is big business and is on the rise. The NBA website, for example, has had 4.5 billion page views from China this season and 3.2 billion games streamed online, up 169% from last season. NBA has more than 100 employees servicing the mainland and a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, in a market worth tens of billions in advertising, sponsorship and merchandise. Nike’s China fortunes alone are picked to increase $4 billion if LeBron James‘ Heat wins the playoffs.
The two most influential foreign celebrities in China are sports stars, including David Beckham, who’s been slipping around China as football’s first international ambassador. Some of China’s tennis players have been banking some big sponsorship cheques. Although basketball, football and tennis get much of the spotlight in China, we think the one to watch is golf. China has just a few more golf courses than New Zealand, yet its golfing stars are fast becoming international sensations. Patriotic Chinese love it when their own do well, which will no doubt translate to business opportunities as far reaching as tourism and smartphone apps. More on that below, however rather than being one of those types who speaks of nothing but sport, we’ve got plenty for marketers who couldn’t care less about balls and clubs; hopefully some of it is of interest to you. Enjoy!
The Chinese Consumer – Five Trends To Drive Growth: An Accenture survey found Chinese consumers rely on multi-channels to gain info about products & services, with the online channel the one they turn to most often when looking for info, and 2nd most often when deciding to do business. 90% surveyed did research online. Other learnings are the importance of being social, creating a personalised & relevant experience, exceeding expectations for service (67% have higher expectations than in 2010), and pursuing customer-driven innovation. Overall, the market is vast, highly diversified and volatile.
China’s Imperial New Consumers: Young Chinese consumers aren’t as likely to form cliques, caring more about their own independence, freedom and distinctiveness. They’re more educated and informed than earlier generations, with a broader view of the world, leading them to place more importance on environmental and social concerns.
‘Tele-dining’ A Way To Get Together In China: BMW: Findings from BMW’s studies into characteristics of their target market that are distinctly Chinese: 1. Teledining is a way to get together; 2. Chinese prefer longer cars; 3. Chinese don’t like convertibles, feeling too exposed; and 4. Chinese prefer voicemail to text or email – really?.
Golf In China: Where The Money Will Be: Golf is on track to becoming China’s national sport in a few years. China and golf was simply meant to be. Our view.
China And Their Love Affair With European Footballers On Weibo: Nice infograph into China’s big following of European football stars on Sina and Tencent Weibo. Messi leads the pack with almost 16 million of the most engaged fans. The flair of Spain’s La Liga top-6 players have eight times the pulling power of English Premier League’s the top-8. Uninhabited Island disputes aside, Japan’s retired Hidetoshi Nakata is the fourth most popular with 2.8 million fans.
Hard Knocks: NFL in China: NFL claims about 3 million “avid” fans in China, growing by 40% to 50% a year, as Chinese look to stand out from the masses, swaying kids who don’t really grow up with team sports. Apparently it helps school as well. A long, but interesting view into American Football’s long-sighted China strategy, with plenty of coffee analogies.
Chevy Using Soccer To Win Over Chinese Consumers: Chevrolet hasn’t had a too bad year in China, which they believe has been helped by their $559 million sponsorship deal of Manchester United. Man U reportedly has 378 million fans in China and Asia, with Man U branded road shows popular throughout China
GM Pulls Chevrolet Ad That Includes Song Labeled As Racist: Seriously Chevrolet, after all the good work in China with Man U, and now this? “Ching, ching, chop-suey”. I kid you not, sung on a Chevrolet ad. The ad wasn’t wasn’t played in China, but with the country now such a big part of GM’s strategy, including growth of 75% targeted by 2015, you’d think they’d be a little responsible with their ads. It’s a small world after all.
China April Passenger-Vehicle Sales Rise 13% On New Models: New car sales just keep rising in China, with April seeing a 13% growth. SUVs are the fastest growing segment at 46% from last year, to 228K units, with the top seller being China’s own Great Wall Haval. Sedans were up 10%, with VW taking number 1 spot, although Ford grew fastest overall at 37%. GM’s Cadillac grew 99%.
Alibaba Billionaire Ma Steps Down As CEO Before Likely Offering: Jack Ma, a demigod in China’s online business world, is stepping down to focus on charity work. Just minutes after donning a silver jacket and Run DMC-style bucket hat, belting out a hit to 35,000 screaming fans, he handed over Alibaba’s reigns to long-standing wingman Jonathan Lu. It’s an exciting time to be running Alibaba, with eCommerce soaring in the country, the recent acquisition of 18% of Weibo and last week’s purchase of 28% of China’s top online mapping company, Autonavi – giving him some beautiful synergies and data to harness.
Savvy Chinese Now Shop With Their Phones: One in four Chinese consumers with smartphones or tablets, will use them to shop online in the next 12 months – double the global average. 58% of a PWC survey shopped online at least once a week, versus 29% globally.
Digital Marketing – The UK And China: The Internet is a powerful tool for both B2C and B2B marketing in China, but it’s not as simple as just a few Mandarin pages on your web site.
Apple’s China Problems Stem From Lack Of Localization, Not News Bashing: Nice article: Apple’s problems in China might be much bigger than being slated by Chinese media, more the fact that they aren’t localising the iPhone to Chinese consumer needs, when brands all around them are.
China’s Top Video Sites Reveal Hundreds Of Millions Of Mobile Users: Chinese are watching videos on their mobile – 150 million a day on Youku-Tudou (growing 50% a quarter) and 200 million monthly on Baidu’s iQiyi (37% of their total). Further evidence to ensure your online channels are mobile-optimised. Smartphones now account for 73% of mobiles sold in China.
Who Will Get The Upper Hand In Global Gold Market? Financial Powerhouses On Wall Street Or Middle-Aged Ladies In China?: Middle aged Chinese women have forced Goldman Sachs’ to back-peddle on their gold shorting strategies. After a year of planning, the firm shorted gold, leading gold prices to crash. Chinese ladies came in and took advantage, buying up a storm, which saw Goldman become the first to withdraw from shorting. Chinese bought the gold as they see it as a safe way to invest their oodles of savings, versus the poorly performing Chinese stocks, potentially over-inflated real estate prices and low interest rates in banks. Since the hype, some have questioned how much of a part the middle aged women played in the rebound though.
Chinese Way Of Doing Business: In Cash We Trust: Although bank & credit card use is soaring in China, good old fashion cash still makes up a large portion of purchases from cars to real estate. Some Chinese are said to not trust the state-controlled banks, and others don’t like their activities to be tracked. Some believe the reason why 100RMB remains the largest denomination is to make it harder to be corrupt to pay bribes and leave the country with cash. But it means there’s a lot of cash around, often delivered by the boot-load. China now accounts for 40% of global paper currency output..
Main Players Adapt To Slowing Sales: Big luxury brands are pulling back on their China expansion plans and expectations as the Government’s crackdown on luxury goods is biting. Swiss watches, for example saw 48% growth in 2011 dropped to 0.6% in 2012. Even the price of tea, once worth more than gold, has dropped 25% since 2012. China’s overall market dropped from 30% growth in 2011, to 7% in 2012, although the luxury sector globally grew 31% that year, with Chinese accounting for a quarter of it. Chinese are increasingly going overseas to buy. Some of what they’re saving on watches, they may well be gambling away as Macau sees casinos topping expectations.
Luxury Brands Take A Page From Casinos And Cater To Chinese Overseas: Speaking of casinos, luxury retailers are following casino tactics to peddle more stock. As luxury sales to Chinese consumers grow faster outside of China, than in it, luxury retailers are sending big spenders down to Hong Kong on junkets. Don’t think Mainland-based stores will disappear though, they’re needed for a marketing channel as much as a sales one.
That’s the skinny for the week!
If you’ve missed earlier news or need to learn more, there’s a stack of information about Chinese consumers in prior China Skinny Weeklys right here. You can have this delivered to your inbox each week by subscribing for email updates, or if social media is more your thing, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In or Google+, or subscribe to our RSS feed. If you have any feedback or suggestions for future articles, please let us know.