The World Snooker UK Championship, staged at the York Barbican in England, is one of the sport’s most historic and prestigious tournaments. It features snooker’s top stars and it is a title which all of them want to win.
This year, the UK Championship welcomed a new partner —— Kunlun Mountains, a high-end water brand from China. The water comes from Kunlun Snow Mountain located above an elevation of 6000m on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau in China, which is covered by snow all year round and called China’s “ancestor of ten thousand mountains”, a pure water source. Kunlun Mountains’ factory located at an elevation of 4200m is the world highest mineral water factory, and the brand has previously cooperated with a number of international well-known events.
As an official partner of the UK Championship, Kunlun Mountains Snow Mountain Mineral Water provides drinking water for the athletes and judges during the whole event. This is also the first time that the UK Championship has partnered with a drinking water brand from China. Why has WPBSA chosen to joint hands with Kunlun Mountains? What similarities are there between the two? What influence will this cooperation have on the snooker development? We may find answers from the dialogue with Xiang Yun, director of Brand Management Division of JDB Group, a Chinese famous beverage enterprise.
Q1： Hello Mr. Xiang. First, I’d like to congratulate you on the successful contract signing between Kunlun Mountains and WPBSA. Were you excited when signing the contract?
A. I was very excited when signing the contract. At that time, Jason Ferguson, chairman of the WPBSA and the chairman of China Billiard Association were also present, indicating that the leaders paid great attention to this cooperation.
Both of them said they were very glad that Kunlun Mountains, as an enterprise, will becomes part of world snooker events. Such cooperation may both enhance the brand and promote snooker development in China, thereby complementing each other.
It can be said that this cooperation enables our Chinese brand to truly enter the world’s top events and to get international recognition in terms of brand quality and influence. This is really a great inspiration to us.
On the other side, we feel a strong social responsibility and a sense of mission. Cooperating with international events is a new start to us and also sets higher requirements on us and we will make further efforts to build Kunlun Mountains as a truly internationally well-known first-rate brand.
Q2： Would you please make a simple explanation of the main content of the cooperation of Kunlun Mountains with the WPBSA?
A. This May, we reached a strategic cooperation agreement with the WPBSA, which specifies that the cooperation period will be three years and Kunlun Mountains becomes the official partner of the WPBSA and will provide the drinking water service to the athletes and judges during the events.
Snooker’s UK Championship has a long history, far-reaching influence and large numbers of fans. We believe that this cooperation will enable Kunlun Mountains to truly enter the world’s top and core snooker events, letting the world witness the huge charm of this Chinese brand.
Q3： Kunlun Mountains represents China’s high-end water and people can see it in many sports such as tennis and cycling. From what considerations have you chosen to cooperate with the Snooker?
A. Kunlun Mountains is “pre-destined” to meet with Snooker and has encountered a very good chance. We can say that Snooker and Kunlun Mountains are a “heaven-made match”. On the whole, Kunlun Mountains fits very well with snooker in terms of tone.
It is known to all that snooker originated from the United Kingdom in the 19th century and is a gentlemen’s sport and this totally accords with the high-end tone of Kunlun Mountains.
All the people who like Kunlun Mountains and snooker can be called snooker fans of the new era, who pursue life quality, pay attention to physical health and will be the future elite class in society.
Next, more and more Chinese snooker players have now achieved excellent scores in the international events, thus promoting the development of snooker in China and attracting more and more Chinese fans for snooker. By means of snooker, Kunlun Mountains may have a better interaction with the targeted audience. It can be said that the development of Kunlun Mountains and the popularization of snooker are mutually complementary.
Finally, nowadays, people pay much attention to health and life quality and increase their attention to physical sports. Such an atmosphere plays a very good role in promoting snooker. Then, the cooperation between Kunlun Mountains and Snooker will be known by more people by means of the fashion of this sport.
Q4： What’s your expectation from this cooperation?
A. British people are very selective about partners and in the previous snooker events, the drinking water brands involved have been all international ones. This cooperation of Kunlun Mountains with Snooker indicates that Chinese mineral water quality and strength has been recognized by the international society and can be said to be a best endorsement for Kunlun Mountains’ product quality.
In addition, it conveys, via snooker, Kunlun Mountains’ inborn sense of mission. For Kunlun Mountains, since its establishment, it has been determined to produce the world’s best quality mineral water and advocate the healthy water drinking concept to the Chinese people and the world. It is hoped that this cooperation will make more people acquainted with Kunlun Mountains and know that Kunlun Maintains is the best snow mountain mineral water.
By means of snooker, Kunlun Mountains will go global better.
Now, there are 70 million snooker fans and an audience of 120 million people in China, domestic events and international events are well combined, there is good communication between the WPBSA and China Billiard Association and the events are arranged in a rational and rhythmic manner, providing a good brand communication opportunity.
By means of snooker, the Kunlun Mountains brand will go from China to the world and this is also the brand development route and track.
Q5： As you have just said, sport marketing is a part of brand building. Kunlun Mountains has been practising sport marketing for years. What are your experiences in the sport marketing process?
A. Sportsmanship advocates being healthy and upward and this fits very well with the concept of Kunlun Mountains Snow Mountain Mineral Water, which contains a variety of health-beneficial minerals and can well complement water content and minerals for physical health especially after sport.
Meanwhile, Kunlun Mountains’ factory is situated at Kunlun Snow Mountain at an evaluation of 4200m, the world’s highest located mineral water factory. Its whole production and water fetching processes are full of challenge and in this respect; it is consistent with the continuous self-challenging spirit in sports.
In China today, sports are increasingly popular and sport events have become an important platform for communicating brands with consumers. The sport drinking water will guide the upgrading of Chinese people’s healthy water drinking concept, and such influence will be imperceptible and natural.
However, we will not cooperate with all sports. The sports favored by Kunlun Mountains should highly accord with the brand and have the best identification with targeted audiences and therefore, snooker is no doubt the best choice.
Q6: What difficulties have you encountered in sport marketing?
A. The biggest difficulty is that there are still few chances for domestic brands, especially in international sport events, such as the Olympic Games and the World Cup. There is little room for domestic brands to select and most of them have been occupied by international brands. We hope that China will introduce more and better top international sport events so as to give more chances for the display of domestic brands.
Q7： You’ve just mentioned the World Cup. Has Kunlun Mountains the idea to go to the Olympic Games and World Cup?
A. Going global has been the dream of Kunlun Mountains and it is also our mission to let more people experience true snow mountain mineral water. We will stick to it and keep a close communication and contact with international sport events. The cooperation with Snooker UK Championship is a good start.
Q8： In your opinion, what are the key points in the sport marketing of Chinese brands? If you are asked to give suggestions on the sport marketing of brands, what do you think about the brand advance step by step?
A. The most important thing is to select a sport match that is suitable for your own brand concept. A brand may have different requirements in its different development stages but the choice should fit its brand development appeal and the brand and market can not be disconnected. Taking Kunlun Mountains for example, as a snow mountain mineral water, its mission is to go global and benefit the world people, and therefore, its stage should be international and it should participate in the competition for international stage. This is one of the reasons why we have chosen snooker.