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Running group:new frontier for Chinese sports marketing

Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 16:46   |   By Yutang Sports

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It is hard to say that the upcoming 2015 Xiamen International Marathon is a pure sport event rather than a competition between brands.

An amateur organization named”Outdoor Elite Running Group ”sponsored by a Chinese professional sports food brand, CPT, will participate in the Marathon. Members in this group are all amateur marathoners and CPT will provide them all types of athletic nutrition support pre and after the competition.  This is not the only sponsored running group during the Marathon. Other business brands, like KING SMITH (Sporting equipment), Xtep(sporting apparel) and Zhong Baoyue(auto accessories) also involved themselves in a different sponsorship deal respectively.

Combining running with brands is not something that comes after marathon being introduced in China market. Back in 2006, LI-NING created an online community named ” LI-NING iRUN Club”, becoming the only communication platform for runners in China.  In 2012, Nike even launched a running experience store, exclusively selling running-related equipments in Sanlitun Village, Beijing.

In 2013, running became a sport for all. Various running events were staged during the year. The statistics shows that more than 750,000 people participated in 39 marathon events in 2013.

For some sport companies, the year was very fruitful. Nike disclosed that running gear was biggest category representing a huge sale in China market. New Balance expended their store from 573 to 886 in one year. 

Sport brand is not the one that regards running as an important marketing tool, automobile and technology companies also enjoyed the lucrative business.  Beijing Hyundai was the major sponsor of Beijing Marathon; BMW sponsored Shanghai Marathon, Xiamen Marathon and Lanzhou Marathon.  Even the CCB (China Construction Bank), Tsingtao Beer and King Long Bus announced to be the sponsor of 2015 Xiamen International Marathon. 

Why so many brands keen on Marathon?

A marketing expert on condition of anonymity said that traditional and digital advertisement is unable to target consumers accurately and thus not so cost effective. Brands figured out a way and changed their marketing strategy. They are investing more directly into cultivating fans and those fans create a secondary spread for their brand. 

“Running as a life style for American middle class, the sport audience in China is certainly high spending and this demographic group is what those brands value most, “he said.

Tags: sports sponsorship,marathon

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