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Resource  5, Mar 2013

Manchester United calls Asia “Second Home”

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manchester unitedEarlier at the Festival of Media Asia 2013, Jamie Reigle, Manchester United’s managing director for APAC revealed some key facts about the multi-million dollar football club.

Manchester United’s followers from Asia

Jamie revealed that there are more than 659 million Manchester United club followers globally, out of which 325 million of them are from Asia. Because of this, Jamie calls Asia their “second home.”

Here’s the followers breakdown from each country is Asia:

  • China – 107.6M (population = 1.3B)
  • Indonesia – 54.5M (population = 242.3M)
  • Thailand – 39.3M (population = 69.5M)
  • India – 34.7M (population = 1.241B)
  • Vietnam – 26.4M (population = 87.8M)
  • Korea Republic – 15.3M (population = 49.7M)
  • Philippines – 12.8M (population = 94.8M)
  • Cambodia – 9.1M (population = 14.3M)
  • Malaysia – 8.3M (population = 28.8M)
  • Japan – 3.7M (population = 127.8M)
  • Hong Kong – 2.2M (population = 7M)
  • Australia – 1.8M (population = 22.6M)
  • Singapore – 0.8M (population = 5.5M)

Digital Media and annual licensed product sales engagement for Manchester United

For its main website, manutd.com boasts over 60 million monthly pageviews, and is available in seven different languages, including English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. More interestingly, 70% of its traffic is from outside of the United Kingdom. For its Facebook page, they have over 31 million followers across all their Facebook pages, which is published in over 20 languages.

Other than digital media engagements, Manchester United also engages its followers through it’s physical retail outlets. There are over 10,000 retail outlets globally which are licensed to sell Manchester United products, with over 5 million branded licensed products as well as 2 million football jerseys.

The phenomenal stats shows that Manchester United, as a global brand, positions itself strategically as possibly the top marketing platforms in the world.

With a huge following in Asia, the main question for Manchester United is how they localize the experience to fit its vast audience from the various Asian countries. It’s nothing new that Asia is a hotpot of different races, languages and cultures. To keep its followers and commercial partners in Asia engaged whilst retaining its identity as a Manchester football club, the club relies a lot on digital channels. The club is currently also doing a series of “I am UNITED” fan meetups around the world, most recently in Jakarta, which saw over 7,500 club fans turn up for the event.

“108 million people is a lot of people to bring to Old Trafford, that’s possibly not going to happen in anyone’s lifetime. So we can come up here, and show our football team to our supporters. They can meet us, they can watch us train. It’s a great honor for us and it’s something that we take seriously.” – Peter Schmeichel 2013 tour announcement

Author’s note

I think what is important is that even for a global brand like Manchester United, they are acknowledging the rise of Asia. The club is also focusing on efforts to localize its content to fit its audience in the region, as well as focusing on keeping its followers and partners engaged even when the club is training hard in Old Trafford.

Jamie however, did not define what he meant by “followers” and how they derive their numbers during the keynote, although there might be a small chance that I missed it.

One more thing, I am not a follower of any football clubs, but the statistics shared here do impress me, and the marketing and branding team behind the club has definitely done a phenomenal job in conveying the brand message to its followers across the globe.

Jacky Yap

Jacky Yap

Having spent one year abroad in Shanghai under the NUS Overseas College Programme, Jacky has an avid interest in entrepreneurship and web based startups. Jacky used to run N-House, Singapore's first entrepreneurial themed residence in NUS, and was also part of the organizing team for Startup Weekend Singapore 2012. You can reach him at jacky [at] e27 [dot] co

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