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Asia at core of Liverpool FC's marketing plan
Publication Date : 17-10-2012
One of the world's leading soccer clubs, Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, is focusing its marketing strategy on Asia, and Thailand is considered an important market in the region thanks to its economic growth and the popularity of soccer in the Kingdom, with a strong base of Liverpool supporters.
Liverpool FC plans a trip to Asia next year after the end of the soccer season, and hopes to visit Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong.
In an exclusive interview with The Nation in Bangkok yesterday, Jonathan Kane, director of international business development for Liverpool Football Club and Athletic Grounds, said Asia was considered a strong support base for the club. It will focus its marketing strategies to draw more support from the region for its three main sources of income: television and other media broadcast licences, advertising and sponsorships, and match-day tickets.
"Rapid economic growth in Asia has created greater opportunities for the club to strengthen cooperation and [it has] drawn strategies to promote the team and business here. The club foresees a lot of Asia businesses that could cooperate with the team in order to create mutual benefit for both sides," Kane said.
He added that the club was looking for local and regional sponsors with great brands, enthusiasm and strong business rationale.
With the tough economic situation in the European Union while there is strong economic growth in Asia, the club foresees more chances for marketing strategies here. It is clear that the global economic balance has shifted to Asia, as reflected by the higher commercial revenue the club receives from this region.
"We have been in Asia for a long time," he said. "As TV penetration has reached more markets, TV audiences have grown quite rapidly in this region. The digital network, including TV, Internet and social media, has [helped] us to engage with more fans more easily.
"The Asian economy has also grow at a rapid race. Asian brands are looking for international expansion and they have seen English Premier League as a natural way to grow their brands."
Kane said more than half of Liverpool FC's revenue from media rights was generated outside the United Kingdom, and most of that was from Asia. The club's major global sponsors, such as Standard Chartered, Chevrolet and Carlsberg, have been using Liverpool to penetrate the Asian market.
Under the club's commercial deals, Liverpool FC has many contracts with brands in international markets, including Asia.
"In Thailand, we have entered the second year of three-year contract with Honda. We have [also] signed a sponsorship contract with 3K Battery for another season," Kane said.
He added that such sponsorship deals allowed local sponsors and Liverpool FC itself to engage with supporters.
The club expects to sign more partners in Thailand and other parts of Asia, Kane said. It also has commercial contracts with Garuda Indonesia airline and Courts, a furniture retailer in Singapore.
Kane said it was also looking to finalise other partnerships soon.
"The club is about to announce another partnership in Thailand and Asia. One of the products that we will sign a contract with is consumer goods."
Moreover, Kane noted that Thailand offered the club a bigger chance than other Asian countries to attract more fans, as soccer is the favourite spectator sport of many Thais, while basketball enjoys favour in China and cricket in India.
According to Sport & Markt, the club currently has about 14 million fans in Thailand, roughly on par with Manchester United. About 16 million are in Indonesia, while the largest number is in China with about 60 million.
Worldwide, Liverpool counts about 240 million fans.
As a strategy to promote the club in Asia and other countries, it is considering opening its Liverpool shops outside the United Kingdom.
Kane said the retail business was quite interesting. The club's online retail store is growing rapidly. Many fans have accessed its online stores through their mobile phones.
The club has opened five retail stores so far, three in Liverpool, one in Chester, and one in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
"We are looking for opportunities to open the club's retail outlets in other parts of the world as well," he said.
Kane said the club had also negotiated with several parties on opening outlets of its family-oriented restaurant Boot Room in Asia and other potential markets around the world.
From the 1960s to the early 1990s, the Liverpool Boot Room in the English metropolis' Anfield district, home of Liverpool FC, was where the coaching staff would sit down with the team and discuss tactics and ways of defeating the next opposing side.
Kane said the club had hired a new manager, Brendan Rodgers, who would help the team create a new philosophy and culture and re-establish an identity and the way it plays soccer.
"We support the manager for the long term so that he can achieve success, which is not just overnight. The success will be based upon a new philosophy, which is to create a team who play attractive attacking football and a team who are difficult to beat," he said.