SINGAPORE: The English Premier League may be the most popular overseas football league in Asia, but Bundesliga, its German counterpart, intends to compete by growing its brand through the use of data and digital engagement.

Bundesliga has long-established broadcasting deals and already has a large Asian fan base, but the fragmented nature of the market in Asia means that finding new audiences is essential, according to the organisation’s international CEO.

Speaking to Campaign Asia, Robert Klein explained that Bundesliga International has established a business intelligence unit at its regional office in Singapore to better understand and connect with its fans across different Asian countries.

He said that data is central to its strategy of growing its fan base, although that needs to complement good story-telling and content that is relevant to each individual Asian market.

“There is a lot of competition [from other football leagues] and we need to bring the Bundesliga consistently to the fans here,” he said. “Most of them may not want to watch an entire match, particularly if the timing is difficult. So it’s about how you tell that story straight after or before the game.”

Citing Japan, a country that frequently exports players to the German football league, Klein said there are opportunities to engage with fans through relevant and tailored content.

“If you’ve got six or seven Japanese players like we have, of which six are national team players, and you’re creating products that are relevant to that country, you’re going to be able to tell the story of a weekend, match or even a season, far better,” he said.

“It’s the constant message and connection,” he added. “We have a lot to play with in terms of marketing, digital content, bringing the clubs closer to fans through events and storytelling.”

The Bundesliga’s success in China could provide the template for growth elsewhere in Asia, particularly from what it has learned after building huge numbers of followers on the WeChat and Weibo messaging platforms.

This digital strategy, including the live-streaming of games, has been so successful that Bundesliga last year overtook the English Premier League in China in terms of social media engagement.

“If you take that and apply it to an Indonesia or Vietnam you’ll get the thinking of what we’re trying to do,” Klein said. “What we end up doing may be quite different, but we have the ability to do it.”

Sourced from Campaign Asia; additional content by WARC staff