Digital Tech Is The Key To A Champion’s Bid For Global Victory

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by Michael Zipf, SAP

Germany’s reigning soccer champion is banking on international growth and digital transformation. In fact, FC Bayern Munich’s future victories may depend on them.

More than selling jerseys and scarves to fans in Singapore, Shanghai and Atlanta, FC Bayern Munich is building a global brand that sparks global interest from potential advertising partners.

“Internationalization is the only way forward,” FC Bayern executive board member Jörg Wacker said. “If you’re not actively establishing an international position today, you might not be able to keep up with the best tomorrow.”

Already successful by most metrics, FC Bayern always plays in front of a packed house at its home stadium; the club enjoys more registered fans than any other German team; and it starts every season with the goal of winning championships. But internationalization involves more than selling jerseys and scarves to fans in Singapore, Shanghai and Atlanta.

It means building a global brand that sparks worldwide interest.

More Personalization for More People in More Places

“It isn’t just about gaining new [advertising] partners abroad, but offering more to those we’re already working with,” Wacker said, citing the club’s high level of global outreach on its digital channels. “The stronger the FC Bayern brand is, the more our partners are willing to pay for it, the higher our merchandising proceeds are, and the more the club earns in the form of international TV revenues.”

Digitalization is a vital part of FC Bayern’s future competition against other big football clubs, such as Real Madrid, Manchester United and Manchester City, according to Stefan Mennerich, FC Bayern’s director of media and digital strategy. Scalable systems from SAP and other advancements will help FC Bayern initiate global marketing campaigns, process the growing deluge of global fan feedback, and — of course — meet worldwide demand for specific jerseys.

FC Bayern Munich reaches their fans wherever they are — no matter how they engage — such as Japanese users watching from their phones after dinner or Brazilians working on their laptops before lunch.

So FC Bayern is producing more and more content designed to drive its outreach on a growing number of international platforms, according to Mennerich. Channels include YouTube, Instagram and WeChat, as well as the club’s own website (including FCBayern.tv) — produced in eight languages, including the Bavarian dialect.

“We can release different content for Japanese users who are on their phones in the morning, and Brazilians working on their laptops around noon,” Mennerich said. “Short texts, longer articles, some with videos, some without — and all of it is contextualized based on each user’s situation.”

“There’s No Substitute for Going Digital”

Digitalization is the best way for a club with strong regional roots like FC Bayern to reach out to the rest of the world, according to Mennerich. And it helps FC Bayern offer the best possible user experience — while achieving a global brand presence.

“We’re going to gain even more fans around the world, and keep them in the fold for years to come,” Mennerich said. “That’s why there’s no substitute for going digital.”

FC Bayern brings in up to 40 percent of its sponsoring revenues through digital channels, and the club generates about half of its merchandising proceeds through its online store. For Mennerich, this is just the beginning.

“We’re expecting more strong growth in those areas,” Mennerich said. “But it’s going to require state-of-the-art technology.”

We Have the Technology

FC Bayern Munich is producing more and more content designed to drive its outreach on a growing number of international platforms, including YouTube, Instagram and WeChat, as well as the club’s own website.

FC Bayern’s digital strategy is bearing fruit, as evidenced by about 6.5 million unique visits to fcbayern.com, as well as the club’s more than 43 million followers on Facebook — both figures that show no signs of slowing down.

And FC Bayern is valued at €2.4 billion, up from €2.2 billion since just last year, according to a study by global auditing firm KMPG. Internationalization and digitalization will be critical to FC Bayern remaining competitive in the hotly contested global market, particularly against English and Spanish clubs.

“SAP has the technology helping us accomplish three of our main goals: optimizing business processes to facilitate our global expansion; helping our team stay fit and perform at the highest level; and giving our fans the best possible experience,” FC Bayern executive board chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

FC Bayern’s state-of-the-art IT infrastructure is — and will continue to be — a key player in the club’s high-tech bid to dominate globally and digitally, as well as on the pitch.

This story originally appeared on SAP’s Business Trends.

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