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
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.
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
• Achieve financial success
The league will follow these core values in order to achieve our mission:
• Community involvement
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.
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.
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.
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.
Professional baseball – International (China)
Major League Baseball – Office of the Commissioner
-Beijing, China – MLB
-Anger and Disgust
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Media Preference: Same as mentioned above.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
MEDIA RELATIONS PROGRAM
Since the government controls all media, this can be more like “government relations
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
-Begin to negotiate with corporate sponsors who are interested in partnering with Major
-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.
-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
-Open summer baseball camps taught by non-MLB players and coaches to introduce the
game to children.
-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.
-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.