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Interview: Marketer Matthew Li on how to seize content opportunities for Paris Olympics

Interview: Marketer Matthew Li on how to seize content opportunities for Paris Olympics

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MARKETING-INTERACTIVE is proud to present Content 360 – Hong Kong: Content that captivates, a conference about content marketing, content trends and storytelling in a year amidst the return of live events, cookie deprecation, the integration of AI in marketing, new devices, global sporting events and weekend shopping trips to mainland China.

Taking place on 26 June at Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel, our 28 speakers will share with us their insights and experiences on content strategy for topics such as integration of content with commerce, cross-border marketing, and the use of AI in content creation.

One of our speakers is Matthew Li (pictured), head of brand and marketing, Decathlon Hong Kong, who will discuss the topic of capturing the sports-related content creation and trendjacking opportunities that lie ahead. He leads the marketing and creative team to spearhead their communication, content, digital marketing, partnership, customer acquisition, and retention efforts.

Decathlon's partnership with the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which is just under two months away, encompasses various initiatives. These include the provision of eco-designed products for volunteers, the organisation of Paris 2024 themed events, and the sale of Paris 2024 branded products.

In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Li said despite Hong Kong having a lower level of exposure compared to its French counterparts due to specific regulations, it has the potential to capitalise on its global brand by forging strategic partnerships, securing commercial deals, and implementing localised engagement programmes.

Meanwhile, Li refuted the notion that only specific brands can benefit from the enthusiasm generated before, during, and after the sporting event. Instead, the event extends beyond sports and encompasses the range of emotions associated with it. 

Li stressed the importance of aligning a brand's content, purpose, and sports to effectively capitalise on the trends of the sporting event. By creating authentic content that leverages the benefits of sports, brands can have a positive impact on their brand and business, he added.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: There has been a rising interest in sports and fitness activities since the pandemic. How has it changed or influenced your marketing plans in Hong Kong? What does Decathlon do differently now than in 2020, especially in terms of social media marketing?

The pandemic has drastically changed consumer behaviour and brought up new trends such as home gyms and camping. This is a very interesting period for us, and I imagine our experience differs from that of many other brands. We enjoyed very high growth between 2020 and 2022, opening five new stores, and our revenue enjoyed two—and even three-digit percentage growth each year.

This is, of course, driven by the rising interest in sports and the new uprising sports. For marketing, our content focused on capturing the new trends, especially sports that could be practised with fewer or no restrictions during the pandemic. 

However, much has changed once things are back to "normal," even compared to pre-pandemic times. For instance, the aforementioned two sports are not as hot anymore, and consumers look for a much wider range of products as they can practice them without any restrictions now.

Luckily, we have a very wide range of products, and we can adapt to the changing needs and find the right levers to drive sustainable growth in the market.

Social media's role as a platform to engage and connect has not changed. However, the platforms have been evolving quickly, with some new players and trends taking centre stage. 

For example, short-form video content is now king in content consumption. Even the "how" is very different now, with younger generations looking for authentic connections rather than functional ones. So, the changes are constant and rapid, which makes instilling an agile mindset and workflow with constant testing and learning even more important on social media today.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: With the upcoming Paris Olympics Games 2024, how does Decathlon “trendjack” sporting results and developments to ensure high brand visibility? Can you share some examples from Hong Kong or elsewhere in the world?

As the official partner of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in France, we have a couple of extensions of this partnership, including supporting the 45,000 volunteers with their outfits and gear specially designed for this occasion, establishing a series of local events in France to connect with local organisations and communities, as well as launching Decathlon x Paris 2024 branded products.

We also proudly sponsor a team of athletes, the Decathlon Athletics Team Paris 2024, consisting of 33 athletes of six nationalities. Much content was created to show our support to the team, such as avatars for each athlete and "trendjacking" each announcement of their official selection to participate in the Paris Olympics 2024 for their nations.

Moving on to Hong Kong, while we have to play under certain rules and do not have the same level of exposure as our counterpart in France, we can seek ways to capitalise on this by playing the game as a global brand and finding the right partnerships, commercial deals, and engagement programmes on a local level.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Can only certain brands “trendjack” or ride on the enthusiasm built up before, during and after sporting events? How should brands go about associating themselves with sports if they haven’t done so before?

That is not true because when we talk about sports, it's not just about practicing sports; it's about the emotions that come along with it, and it differs by person.

While the reason could be functional, there are always a couple of layers of reasons behind it. 

For example, a mum of two children practices sports because she wants to be healthy, and that's because she wants to keep up with her children, and that's also because she wants to live longer and watch them grow up, and so on. You can see that the deeper you go, the more emotional the "why" becomes.

As a brand, and I'm not just talking about sports brands, the important thing is to find that connection between your content, brand purpose, and sports.

Then, you create something authentic to you that is amplified by the benefits of sports and positively impacts your brand and business.

We have actually had discussions with many brands, and I'm pleasantly surprised by the creativity I have seen so far, so I'm confident this summer will be exciting from a marketing perspective!

Join us this coming 26 June for Content360 Hong Kong, a one-day-two-streams extravaganza under the theme of "Content that captivates". Get together with our fellow marketers to learn about AI in content creation, integration of content with commerce and cross-border targeting, and find the recipe for success within the content marketing world!

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