When it comes to football, Chinese fans love their players despite disappointing efforts over the years to qualify for the World Cup. China last played in the World Cup in 2002. Nevertheless, the passion rises every four years, and that translates into businesses opportunities.
CGTN’s Quan Xiangqin reports.
It’s a summer night in Beijing. Restaurants are buzzing with activity.
“Our sales have jumped nearly 200 percent. The number of customers has also surged by 250 to 300 percent,” Wang Wei, Manager of Beijing Trainspotting Restaurant.
The World Cup craze in China, which doesn’t even have a team playing, has boosted not only the restaurant business but the retail sector, including TV and sporting goods. Breweries are also seeing a spike in sales.
“We have also launched some activities of selling beer tied in with specially-made cups. Our sales have tripled in the short span since the beginning of the World Cup,” said Pan Dinghao, Founder of Panda Brew.
Video streaming websites are seeing a bump thanks to changes in viewing habits.
“There are so many choices online. Watching TV is free, but you can’t watch a game later on demand.”
“I specifically bought a one-month membership on Youku, so I can watch the World Cup there. I like it because I can chat with other viewers online at the same time.”
Some Chinese fans who want to be close to the action are willing to spend a lot to travel to Russia. FIFA says 37,000 tickets have been sold to fans in China – a surprising number for a non-qualifying country.
Chinese businesses are seizing the opportunity for global exposure. Eight years ago, only one Chinese company was a sponsor at the event. This time seven. They reportedly spent more than $800 million.
“Companies who want their products to reach customers all over the world choose football, with its mass appeal as one of the most popular sports worldwide,” said Igor Smirnov, Commercial Director of Lokomotiv Moscow.
However, the dream for millions of Chinese fans is still to bring the World Cup to China and see the national team play in the tournament. China vows to become a world football superpower by 2050, something businesses are banking on.