Mlb In China

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Mlb In China

  1. 1. 1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Baseball has been engrained in American culture since 1870. However, the game is no longer solely America’s. It has expanded overseas ranging from the Caribbean Islands all the way across the globe to Japan. MLB has no doubt benefited by producing more international superstars, bringing in truly the best players the world has to offer while bringing in revenue with the increased international fans. However, we have yet been able to tap into the China market to its fullest capacity. In a city of over 1 billion people, this is a market that we can no longer ignore. It will not be easy, as China is a completely different culture than the United States’ in both society and politics. This project will unquestionably take time as it requires a lot of patience. With Beijing just coming off hosting a successful Olympic Games, now would be the best time to woo the Chinese government into investing more into Western Culture. They have made an extreme effort to be more open to their Western countries, which was why they bid and were awarded the Olympics. As we are in the midst of the “feeling out” faze of China post-Olympics, now is the best time to capitalize on their willingness to open up to the rest of the world. Though the country’s sports do not have anything to do with a bat and ball, there are simply too many people in that country for baseball not to provide some major league caliber players and to generate more revenue. However, we saw the NBA’s impact on China and vice versa so there is no reason to believe that cannot be achieved by Major League Baseball.
  2. 2. 2 Purpose Vision Statement Major League Baseball in China exists to increase awareness of the league and its players as well as to promote the game of baseball across all ages, with special focus on the youth of China. Mission Statement The mission of Major League Baseball in China is to: • Promote the game of baseball • Teach the game of baseball to Chinese citizens • Encourage teamwork and discipline on and off the field • Start amateur and eventually professional leagues • Have a stronger presence of Chinese personnel in Major League Baseball • Have the Chinese citizens develop a rooting interest in the MLB’s teams and players • Achieve financial success Core Values The league will follow these core values in order to achieve our mission: • Teamwork • Community involvement • Excellence • Sportsmanship • Fun • Success • Entertainment
  3. 3. 3 Goals- Strategic: 1. To increase the awareness of Major League Baseball in China. 2. To get the Chinese citizens to play baseball. 3. Have more Chinese baseball players in the United States. Objectives: 1. We will continue to play exhibition MLB games in China. We will also televise games in China from the USA by working with the government because of Chairman Hu Jintao’s public effort to integrate more of the western culture into China. In addition, countless campaigns will be run around China to spark an interest in the league. 2. Professional baseball players will be sent to China to run baseball camps and make public appearances on MLB’s behalf. Since pro baseball players cannot be there throughout the year, MLB employees will live there full time to establish amateur and professional leagues. 3. Once leagues are established, scouts will be deployed to China to find talent to bring back to the United States to further develop their skills. Goals-Financial 1. To increase the purchase of MLB licensed merchandise in China. 2. To profit from leagues that will be developed by ticket and concession sales. 3. To develop high quality relationships with corporate sponsors. Objectives 1. To increase the purchase of MLB/local amateur league licensed merchandise in China by 20% over the next two years. 2. To increase the purchase of tickets and concessions by 20% over the next five years as we develop leagues. 3. Establish 2-3 corporate sponsorships with highly reputable businesses.
  4. 4. 4 Product Analysis Type/Level Professional baseball – International (China) Format/Structure Major League Baseball – Office of the Commissioner -International Division -Beijing, China – MLB Tangible Elements Equipment Venues Players Officials Coaches Product Extensions: Vendors Administrative Personnel -Safety -Game Sponsorships Concessions Licensed Merchandise Game Promotions Advertising Scoreboards Jobs/Careers Mascots Music
  5. 5. 5 Intangible Elements Images Chinese Culture Emotions/Feelings -Passion -Excitement -Anger and Disgust -Fun -Rivalry -Compassion -Anxiety -Sadness -Pride -Zest -Relief Memories -Family -Friends Experiences -Victory -Defeat -Friendship -Educational
  6. 6. 6 Product’s Industry For this plan to have the game of baseball and Major League Baseball, it would be difficult to list an extensive amount of associated organizations, considering baseball in China has yet to get off the ground. But our future is dependent on a few groups to change that: Elementary Schools – It is vital to hook the youth into the game as early as possible. It has been proven the younger someone latches onto something he or she likes the longer it will stay with that child through adulthood. Chinese high schools/ sport universities (ie Beijing Sport University) – Many 18-21 year olds in Beijing are very athletically minded, and can even major in a sport at a university. Expats – There are a large number of expatriots (or “expats” for short) living in China who are baseball fans. Since they come from Western countries, they will have an understanding of the game. We can be confident that there is at least this fan base that is interested in the sport of baseball. Government – Without the government on our side, it will be nearly impossible for Major League Baseball to reach its full potential. With them on our side, they can mandate that baseball be played in the school system. Once that happens, we can hook the Chinese youths into the sport hopefully for good.
  7. 7. 7 Market Analysis Forecast/market trends: Obviously in terms of taking what we know from the past and present, it will be difficult to predict what the future holds. However, if we look closely, we can see how the NBA was able to strike China in a big way. What happened in China was that basketball became part of the curriculum in middle school. Once kids continued to play it, they developed NBA caliber players, which eventually led to Yao Ming’s arrival to America. So it is imperative we work with the Chinese government to get baseball to be part of that curriculum. We will also work closely with the NBA’s league office and Commissioner David Stern to gain insight. Problems/Issues: A potential problem is that we are not dealing with a capitalist society, but a communist one. We cannot rely on unbiased media to cover our events because the media is heavily censored and controlled by the Communist Regime. Chairman Hu Jintao can simply not like the sport of baseball, and not allow it in the country if he so pleases, though we do not anticipate that happening because there is already an office in Beijing. External Factors Geography: The baseball season is very hot and typically rainy. So getting on the field and fighting the weather conditions might be a factor. Competition: Basketball, table tennis and badminton reign supreme in China, which might make it difficult to get kids starting to play baseball. Economical/Political Environment: As stated above, China is a communist country that controls everything. But if we can get the government on our side, it will be a tremendous asset. Demographic Trends: Due to this being a very different group of people with different cultures and customs, it might hinder their ability to adopt a western sport. We will need to rely on westerners to get baseball started in China, which in turn will not be familiar with their customs and language. It will take time and training, but this shouldn’t be an obstacle that cannot be climbed over time. SWOT
  8. 8. 8 Strengths: Major League Baseball is an international brand that has achieved a high level of athletic and financial success. MLB has the best baseball players in the world that has become synonymous with excellence. Our players have become international stars in a sport that has helped bring people together for over 100 years. Weaknesses: Not completely understanding China will prove to be an obstacle. There is a lot we do not know, and when it comes to marketing to a group of people, it is essential we understand almost everything about them. Until we have spent enough time there, we will struggle to adapt and sell the sport to their culture. Opportunities: There are over 1.3 billion people in China. That alone makes this market one giant opportunity. Within those 1.3 billion people, there has to at least be a handful of great baseball players. To add to that, China is a booming country that slowly wants to be more accepted in western society. They have money to spend and the people to do it. Threats: Having MLB be censored and closely monitored by the communist party could be a threat. We would have to have any marketing campaign approved by the government because they control everything. Every step we take will be watched closely, which is something westerns are not accustomed to. The government is our biggest threat, but if we can get them on our side, it would be a tremendous help. PRIMARY TARGET AUDIENCE
  9. 9. 9 Demographics: Families with boys ages 6-11 and 12-17 – middle-upper class Males ages 18-25, 26-35 and 36-55 It is important to hit the families for the obvious reason they typically have money to spend on sporting activities with their children. However, with this being China, a married couple is only permitted to have one child. With a portion of the primary target being families, it is important to differentiate between families with a son or daughter because there are no mixes. The young 6-11 bracket is important because in order for them to love baseball as much as they can, it is vital we get them as young as possible. Since we want to promote the sport of baseball as well as the MLB, the two age brackets between 12-25 are extremely important because that is the peak of their baseball playing days. Especially, if we want to develop the Chinese into baseball players talented enough to bring to the United States for further development. The age groups 26-35 and 36-55 are extremely important because they have purchasing power. They have the money to spend as consumers of Major League Baseball instead of playing it. The exception being the young portion of the 26-35 bracket who may have a few years of peek playing ability remaining. Psychographics: The psychographics in China are extremely different than the psychographics in the United States. The Chinese are more reserved and do not openly express all of their emotions as much as Western culture does. Another major difference between their culture and ours is how individuals view themsevles. Asian culture does not strongly believe in being and looking independent. Meaning an Asian would not wear something that would stand out and look “different.” They would rather blend in without attracting too much unnecessary attention to themselves. This means once we can get a core population of fans set up, this will translate into more people following along. Purchasing Behaviors: The Chinese people love authentic jerseys. In the case of the National Basketball Association, there are enough young boys and even men wearing jerseys to clothe the entire continent of Africa. It doesn’t even need to be of a Chinese athlete. There are almost as many Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant jerseys as Yao Ming jerseys. Plus, there are almost zero jerseys of fellow Chinese countryman Yi Jianlian. Media Preferences: All media is controlled by the government, with television and internet being the best way to consumer sports. Sport on the radio has never caught on to any wide spread scale so it might be difficult to go that route. If we can get the government on our side, they can air as many games as they choose on any of their television stations. Print isn’t as popular due to the traditional bias of the China Daily. SECONDARY TARGET MARKET
  10. 10. 10 Demographics: Boys 6-11 and 12-17 years old It is extremely important to have the males in this demographic play the sport because they will be the ones to drive it in China. They will either make or break the success of MLB in this country. Psychographics: This demographic is still young enough to not be too heavily impacted by the former extremely strict communist regime. They aren’t close minded and believe they are part of the world as a whole instead of living in their own little world of China. They are open to the idea of Western culture being part of their lives. Plus, the males might think there is a future for them in this sport, and that will serve as a motivating factor. Purchase Behavior: The purchasing behavior is very similar to what was mentioned for the previous demographic. However, the children are looking to become “more Western” and more adept to that culture as well as Eastern culture. As we say, “it doesn’t get more American than apple pie and baseball,” so introducing the sport of baseball to them might be an extremely affective method to accomplish this. Media Preferences: Television would be the dominant preference for the reasons stated above in the previous demographic. Tertiary Target Audience
  11. 11. 11 Demographics: Males 56 and up Women and girls The bracket ages 56 and up will be very difficult to reach due to the closed mindedness of that generation. They grew up in the very strict Communist regime with Chairman Mao who slaughtered many to enforce his power. They still live in fear today though the regime is much more lax than in previous years. The older generation will not be as willing to give such an American sport that baseball is a try. Plus, very few seniors have much discretionary income anyway due to the previously strict regime. It is always very difficult to cater a traditionally male sport to the female population. Major League Baseball is comprised totally of men as is the vast majority of Little League Baseball. The female fans we do gather will be a direct result from their interaction with their male counterparts. Psychographics: As I said earlier, the seniors still live in fear and are very close-minded to Western culture. This will be nearly impossible to break. As for the females, the only popular team sports are volleyball, basketball and doubles badminton/table tennis. So to expect them to pick up baseball would be a naive assumption. They do not even have a professional softball league in China. Purchase Behavior: The seniors neglect anything Western affiliated. The only semblance of Western culture for the female population is designer clothes. They tend to fit the “girly-girl” stereotype. Media Preference: Same as mentioned above. POSITION
  12. 12. 12 Market Niche: As of right now, we are trying our best to understand how to sell MLB to our three main target audiences. To focus on a niche market at this stage would be difficult and take away time and money from our efforts to sell our product to mainstream society and the government. Branding: Well whether we like it or not, one of, if not the first thing, Chinese citizens will think of when they hear or see anything MLB will be “American.” There isn’t much we can do about that because the concept of Major League Baseball is so foreign to them. It could work in our favor as China has made it an effort to become more accepting amongst the Western world so they could embrace it. When they see the MLB logo, we want them to think of excellence and professionalism in a sport that requires great physical and mental skill. ADVERTISING Print: This will be the most difficult form of advertising as the main newspaper in China is the China Daily, which is of course heavily censored and monitored by the government. However, as has been the theme, if we can get the government on our side it would result in numerous advertisements. In a city of close to 20 million people, the China Daily remains the most popular daily newspaper. Electronic: Heavy use of television and internet advertising will be used. This includes closed circuit monitors that run throughout the public buses and the subway system. The main theme for these advertisements will be to show how much fun the sport of baseball is including more information on where and when they can start playing. PUBLICITY Print: We will release press and news releases to create awareness about Major League Baseball. We will also make a strong effort to get China Daily reporters to report on our activities, games (etc.). For example, if we are holding a community relations program, we will inform the China Daily about so they will come and cover the event we organize. Electronic: Television will be heavily relied upon to cover our events and broadcast our press conferences. China television loves news stories that show “progress” on the republic. So stories like baseball in China will be extensively covered.
  13. 13. 13 PROMOTION (INDUCEMENTS) As we begin to set up amateur and professional leagues, we will follow the format of Minor and Major League Baseball in order to attract a crowd. We will have to change a few things around like concessions and the overall in-game promotions. This is a different culture so while baseball is a Western game, we have to make sure we stay sensitive to the Chinese culture. COMMUNITY RELATIONS PROGRAMS Primary Target Audience: Major League Baseball players combined with players from the small Chinese Baseball League can visit local food pantries to help distribute food. Media will be present to show that they are more than just playing baseball in China; they are making an impact in the community. This will rub off with the middle-aged parents and consumers well because they might be afraid of us being a Western organization that we do not truly care about China. That is what we will hope to change. MLB will also donate money to their cause. Another program is to hold events with parents only about raising children in today’s Chinese society. Media will not be invited because this aims to be an intimate time with the community. It will be sponsored by MLB, with major league players there to talk about how baseball has positively changed their lives. This will create good-will with the community, and it’s important not to have the media there because it would make it less intimate. Secondary Target Audience: One community relations program that can be done is for Major League Baseball to sponsor an after school program. Now that China has become more modern in that the mother isn’t as expected to stay at home and take care of their child, after-school programs will begin to become a necessity for the children. So if young boys all the way to teenagers need a place to spend the next two hours after school, might as well introduce them to the game of baseball. Actual players and coaches are not needed all of the time, but appearances once in awhile would be a good idea. All these after- school programs need are a few adults who understand the game of baseball and is willing to teach and play with them. Another program is to send professional baseball players into the schools similar to how athletes do today. They simply walk in and give a short presentation (with a translator if necessary) then demonstrate some baseball skills. Then we will have time for question and answers. The goal is to peak their interest in the game by bringing in recognizable players to speak about America and the game of baseball.
  14. 14. 14 MEDIA RELATIONS PROGRAM Since the government controls all media, this can be more like “government relations program.” TECHNOLOGY We will certainly use technology to promote the sport of baseball and the game of Major League Baseball. We will use the internet and create our own MLB.com web page in Chinese characters much like how NBA.com does. We will have to get clearance from the government first and make sure it doesn’t get censored by the “great firewall.” Blogs will not be allowed in China because all blogs are censored. LICENSED MERCHANDISE Licensed merchandise will be heavily relied upon to promote the game. Jerseys are extremely popular in China, and we intend to take advantage of it. We will work with Nike and Adidas to license our merchandise. The Chinese people are very fond of Adidas and Nike as there are many official stores scattered about Beijing. PERSONAL SELLING I do not envision this being the best way to sell our product. In my time in Beijing, the type of one on one interaction that is required for personalized selling doesn’t seem to fit their culture. In the day and age of television and the internet, it might be more affective to sell our product using that route.
  15. 15. 15 CORPORTATE SPONSORSHIP PACKAGES Exclusive Sponsor: Adidas could be an exclusive sponsor because of their popularity in the Western and Eastern world. Particularly in Beijing, there are numerous Adidas stores to stock licensed merchandise. The China Baseball League and all amateur and professional baseball teams will be sponsored by Adidas. So their logo will appear on all parts of the uniform including all jerseys. This includes all licensed merchandise sold exclusively in Adidas and general athletic wear shops. Primary Sponsor: Kentucky Fried Chicken is extremely popular in China and we look to take advantage of it because they have strong Western ties as well. They can exclusively sell their products at the concession stands. If the financial commitment is great enough, we can force their key competitor in McDonalds out of the venues. So KFC will reign supreme. Subsidiary: Tsingtao Beer could be the primary beer sponsor within the venue. This could mean that only Tsingtao beer is served at the concessions. To add to that, it can also mean no other beer advertisements in the venues as well. However, that would probably cost a little more to keep Tiger Beer or even Heineken out all together. PRICE At least to start, the ticket prices should remain low to attract customers. MLB has the money to suffer for the first year or so to build up a fan base, which will soon turn into success for years to come. As far as special events will go, the idea will try to keep them extremely affordable much like what the NBA does with their events. Every summer the NBA tours the world, setting up basketball courts where former and current players and coaches hold mini instructional sessions. There are also plenty of games to play that include winning tickets and other NBA related prizes. The MLB can hold similar events. Primary Target Audience: Due to the demand of jerseys, if we had 30% off jersey night once or twice a month that will draw a huge crowd. So not only would we attract a crowd, we would also be selling jerseys that will promote our brand name. We will be killing two birds with one stone. Secondary/Tertiary Target Audience: The Chinese love their corn. Whether it is a male or female, young or old, they love their corn on a stick. So if we took the one dollar hot dog nights of American and merely translated it to one RMB corn night every Thursday or so, that should put butts in the seats.
  16. 16. 16 PLACE Venue: Currently in the China Baseball League, the season starts in early April and ends in late June to accommodate the weather. The summer is the rainy reason and due to high humidity, high temperatures and air quality, it makes playing baseball very difficult outdoors. The weather might be baseball’s biggest obstacle because there is nothing we can do about it. The only thing that can be done is to build indoor arenas to play in during the peak summer seasons in July and August or hopefully full time. Tickets/Membership: Tickets will be sold solely at the venues until there is a strong enough attendance to warrant online/telephone purchases. The box office will be open two hours prior to game time and will remain open through the third inning. Licensed Merchandise: Official merchandise will be sold at the venues and participating Nike and Adidas stores. Access to Players/Coaches/Mascot: This will be handled by each individual team’s public relations staff. If it is a league-wide sponsored event, the MLB offices in China will be responsible for the community and media’s access to players and coaches. They will be in constant communication with the US offices to coordinate player and coach arrangements.
  17. 17. 17 PROMISE (EVALUATION) Internal: We will register who are attending the community relations programs to get a better idea who is at least interested in Major League Baseball. Simply attending these programs expresses interest in the image of the game. We will also register game attendance in the China Baseball League games as well as any camps we hold. Staff meetings will be conducted regularly so we can gauge where we are and what needs to change or to discuss what is going well. To add to that, we will bring in focus groups and ask the Chinese people themselves what they would like to see out of Major League Baseball. Whether it is anything about programs or games, or about why they don’t like MLB. Any feedback would be important in order for this to be successful. External: We will be in constant contact with all of our corporate sponsors. It is essential to make sure they are pleased with us, and if for reason they are not we can clear it up so that can change. Even if things are going well, it is extremely important we remain in constant contact with them to ensure the strong relationship will remain strong and successful. Hearing what the consumers have to say is also vital. They are what is driving the sales, so if they are unhappy about anything then we absolutely have to know. We will distribute surveys to consumers at games and events. However, frequent communication with potential consumers is equally if not more important. If they aren’t consuming our product, we need to find out why.
  18. 18. 18 TIMELINE January 2009 -Begin to negotiate with corporate sponsors who are interested in partnering with Major League Baseball. -Evaluate the China Baseball League for possible moves into indoor venues. -Evaluate the CBL as a whole to find out more marketing and PR opportunities. -Consult with the National Basketball League to discuss their success in China. March-June 2009 -Evaluate the CBL as it has progressed with the continued use of outdoor venues. -Begin consulting the fans that attend the games to find out what they enjoy about the CBL. -Ask non-CBL consumers what would make them be interested in baseball. -Hold MLB pre-season exhibition games around the country to promote the game. -The MLB players and coaches will partake in many community relations programs while there. -Open summer baseball camps taught by non-MLB players and coaches to introduce the game to children. January 2011 -Have many corporate sponsors on board to financially back MLB in China. -The construction of indoor venues complete and ready for CBL teams to move in at the beginning of the next season. -Continue to hold indoor camps taught by current MLB players and coaches. -Work on expansion of at least two more teams. March-June 20011 -All CBL teams have indoor venues. -There are at least two more teams in this league. -MLB scouts attend games to bring talent over to the United States. -Players from the CBL are highly touted by MLB teams. -CBL players are getting drafted to the Major Leagues.
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