Liverpool FC is seeking to expand as a global brand by partnering with major Chinese ecommerce platform JD.com.
The club will launch a Liverpool FC store on JD Worldwide in the hopes of attracting a whole new Chinese Red army. English Premier League football is becoming increasingly popular in China, and Liverpool hopes to cash in on this growing market by selling official merchandise online.
Chinese consumers are often willing to pay a premium for imported goods, due to concerns about poor-quality fakes flooding the domestic market. Therefore, offering them an outlet where they are guaranteed only to find officially branded merchandise makes sound commercial sense.
Liverpool has been expanding its list of Asian sponsors in recent years. A deal with car manufacturers MG Auto, another formerly British brand, but one which is now Chinese-owned, saw the launch of a Liverpool-themed car in February 2016. Liverpool players Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson appeared in ads for the company. The club also partnered with Chinese TV company PPTV to produce 5,000 Liverpool-themed TVs, featuring the club’s logo on their surface and on their start-up screen. Elsewhere in Asia, a sponsorship deal with Thai coconut water brand Chaokoh made it the official coconut water of Liverpool FC.
Rival club Manchester United has also been making inroads into Asia, signing sponsorship deals with South Korean footwear brand Sbenu, the Southeast Asian casino resorts company Donaco, and the Chinese social networking site WeChat.
Liverpool first started looking to East Asia as an ecommerce market in 2011 when it launched an official presence on the social networking site Sina Weibo. In 2014, it was estimated that English Premier League football had 820 million fans across Asia, and almost a third of Premier League clubs had the names of Asian sponsors emblazoned on their shirts.