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Elite versus grassroots sports events sponsorship in China: an exploration of sponsors’ motives and objectives

Qian Wang (Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Villeurbanne, France)
Stéphan Fuchs (Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Villeurbanne, France)
Guillaume Bodet (Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Villeurbanne, France)

International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship

ISSN: 1464-6668

Article publication date: 6 February 2024

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Abstract

Purpose

This study explores the motives and objectives of sports sponsorship in China, taking into account the sports, social and cultural contexts. It also adopts a comparative approach to examine the sponsorship of elite and grassroots sports events in China.

Design/methodology/approach

This study adopts a qualitative approach, employing semi-structured interviews with representatives of nine companies sponsoring elite and/or grassroots sports events in Western China. The data were analyzed through reflexive thematic analysis.

Findings

In China, sponsors are frequently driven to sponsor elite sport events by a sense of obligation and responsibility to the country, whereas their motives to sponsor grassroots sport events is primarily influenced by sincerity and goodwill. Chinese companies consider brand awareness, exposure and the relationship with the government and authorities as key factors for sponsorship, and use sponsorship to achieve market-related objectives.

Originality/value

Companies’ sponsorship motives and objectives have received significant attention in the literature, but mainly in Western countries. In the context of China, this study identifies how sponsors utilize social networks to shape their motives and objectives. It also reveals certain patterns common with the current literature, as well as specificities such as how the roles of the government and authorities are linked to the contingent economic and social context of the country. Furthermore, the differences between elite and grassroots sports events sponsorship are explained.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the funding support from the China Scholarship Council.

Citation

Wang, Q., Fuchs, S. and Bodet, G. (2024), "Elite versus grassroots sports events sponsorship in China: an exploration of sponsors’ motives and objectives", International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSMS-04-2023-0065

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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