From an economic point of view, the Chinese football market is enormously interesting for European football clubs - not only because of its size alone. As part of their internationalization activities, there are therefore more and more clubs active in China. For these reasons, the scholars of the Center for Sports and Management at WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management have analyzed the Chinese football consumers in a research report.
China’s concerted football engagement fertilizes the development of domestic football consumers supporting both domestic and foreign clubs. Winning over the Chinese football fan means competing with the well-advanced entertainment industry in China.
The Chinese Super League and top European football clubs need to face their competitors from other sports and entertainment industries to take advantage of the current gold rush fever in football. Their efforts in growing a fan base will promote the sport to become a national pastime in China. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how and why the Chinese people consume football – on the pitch as well as in the digital sphere. Furthermore, it is important to identify inherent motivations and needs (e.g., for drama, escapism, or knowledge) that influence the decision to watch football and to better target the communication toward sport spectators.
What does the typical Chinese football consumer looks like? What are the motives to watch football? Which football stars and clubs are supported and why? What role do digital channels play for football consumption? How does a boom in e-sports affect sport consumer behavior? What are commonalities and differences between the Chinese and more or less advanced football markets abroad?
To answer these questions the Center for Sports and Management (CSM) at WHU designed a representative survey across five different countries (China, Germany, USA, South Korea, and Japan) exploring individual spectator motives, characteristics of favorite players and teams, and sport (media) consumption behavior.
Overall, 5,000 people participated in the online survey and face-to-face interviews (China). Their opinions are representative for a population of 1.899 billion people in Asia, Europe, and the USA. The survey results were discussed with China experts to derive recommendations for designing marketing and sales strategies tailored to win the Chinese football consumers.