Bayern Munich Joins Tmall to Tap Chinese Fans

German football club Bayern Munich stands to extend its engagement with its 90 million Chinese fans after opening an e-commerce store on Alibaba’s B2C Tmall Global platform.

The club’s collaboration with Tmall Global and international logistics company DHL gives consumers in China access to official fan merchandise including FC Bayern Munich jerseys and other traditional German and Bavarian products. In turn, Bayern Munich will have access to the Alibaba Group’s 350 million Chinese users across its Chinese online-shopping marketplaces.

According to Jörg Wacker, Bayern Munich’s internationalization and strategy executive, Tmall is just the jumping off point for a better relationship with the club’s Chinese fan base.

“China continues to be our key focus market and plays an important role in our internationalization strategy,” Wacker says.

“For our market entry in China, Tmall Global is the best platform since many of our fans already use the platform today. This store is a big first step in expanding our touch points with our Chinese fan base.”

While this is not Bayern Munich’s first foray into Chinese digital marketing—the club has an existing digital presence in China on WeChat, QQ, video platform Youku, a Chinese language website, and almost two million followers on Weibo — the launch of its flagship Tmall store is probably a more lucrative way to reach its Chinese fan base, says Win Mak, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Mirum Hong Kong.

“This is not a surprising move at all to see a top football powerhouse like Bayern Munich opt to join Tmall,” says Mak.

“There is no golden formula for reaching Chinese fans, but Tmall is a good marketing call as it doesn’t cost a lot – and not only can China provide vast amounts of potential fans, but fans with immense purchasing power,” he says.

Tmall will also benefit from the deal, as Alibaba faces continued scrutiny over the legitimacy of some of the products sold on its Tmall and Taobao e-commerce platforms, says Mak.

“It definitely helps Tmall to have these top brands and for them to help clean up their image,” says Mak. “It will give them an uplift of image and showcase that they are a real e-commerce powerhouse.”

Bayern Munich joins a number of other sporting clubs on Tmall, including British football club Liverpool, and America’s NBA and NFL leagues.

Given how fast e-commerce is growing in China, Mak anticipates that more Chinese e-commerce players will be looking to recruit other top foreign sporting brands in order to bolster their position in the market.

“It is reminiscent of 12 years ago when top Chinese online portals payed huge money to sign up top football clubs for running their official Chinese websites,” says Mak.

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