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Bottled water floods sports sponsorship market

By Nong Ruowen 19 Oct 2017

A new partnership made a splash in the Chinese sports sponsorship market on October 16 when the Chinese mineral water brand Ganten struck a deal with the Australian Open, making Ganten the first ever Chinese food and drink brand chosen by the Grand Slam tournament as their partner.

In fact, before this partnership, Ganten has been known as an experienced player in tennis sponsorship in the bottled water industry. In 2014, Ganten joined forces with the Wuhan Open, followed by the China Open and the ATP Shanghai Masters enhancing Ganten’s portfolio.

Further to these, another sponsorship deal by Ganten is also worth mentioning. This past June, Serie A outfit Juventus confirmed that the Chinese bottled water giant would become their global top sponsor from July 1, 2017, for 3 seasons. 

Other sports events covering equestrian, sailing, badminton, basketball and volleyball have also ever been put into Ganten’s portfolio, which makes the brand more widely known as an enthusiast in sports marketing. 

However, Ganten is not the only bottled water brand in China which sees sports marketing as a key to securing its position in the Chinese market. Another giant in the bottled water market, C’estbon, is also proficient in this strategy.

Similar to Ganten, C’estbon have a wide-range of sports marketing campaigns covering football, rowing, fitness and badminton. In 2016, the brand partnered with Tencent Sports and conducted a series of campaigns related to Rio 2016 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which triggered a heated discussion among sports fans and practitioners in China. 

However, what C’estbon is mostly concerned with, is the sport of marathon running, which can be easily seen from the following data.

According to the Chinese Athletics Association (CAA), 328 marathons took place around China in 2016. And C’estbon sponsored 176 of them! These 176 races took place in 79 cities throughout China, which means C’estbon have formed a network covering these cities and engaging runners and residents there, making these new consumers more familiar with this brand.

In China’s bottled water industry, the two previously mentioned brands above can be seen as giants as both of them have a strong market share which allows them to be profitable and have an adequate budget to conduct their marketing strategies in many kinds of sports. 

On the other hand, they both have a history which is long enough for them to create their brand characters, so that they can choose one or several sports as their priority in marketing. Elegance and premium have been emphasized by Ganten all the time and as a result they focus on tennis and Juventus. C’estbon always stands for healthy lifestyles and that is the reason why they make so many endeavours into marathon running. 

However, for those newcomers to this industry, sports marketing might be a different story. 

On October 13, the Hebei-based Jinmailang Beverage Company jointly announced with the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) that the former’s water brand Jinmailang Liangbaikai (Liangbaikai literally means cooled boiled water) had become the league’s official drinking water sponsor for the next three seasons. What is worth mentioning is that the CBA is the first ever league which Jinmailang’s brand sponsors. 

Let us have a quick look at this brand. In fact, its parent company Jinmailang Group is a major player in the foods industry, but it launched its drinking water brand Jinmailang Liangbaikai in 2016 so making it a newcomer to this industry. 

As a result, it is not hard to understand why Jinmailang Liangbaikai chose the CBA League. Basketball is one of the most popular sports in China and the CBA league is the top-tier league in basketball in this country. For a new brand, to capture a top resource like the CBA league is the best way to boost the brand’s popularity in a short time.

A similar scenario can be seen in another case. Alpenwater, a bottled water brand launched in 2012, has signed a long-term strategic partnership with top-flight professional football club AC Milan, becoming the club’s official water partner.

As Lorenzo Giorgetti, AC Milan’s chief commercial officer, said, “On the one side, this partnership gives AC Milan the opportunity to link its brand to one of the fastest growing companies in the mineral water sector operating in China. On the other, it allows Alpenwater to use AC Milan as the perfect strategic partner to enter key markets, both in Europe and worldwide.”

Proofread by Raymond Fitzpatrick

Tags: sport events
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