Although the Chinese men's national football team failed to qualify the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Chinese firms have set their eyes on the global sporting event to boost sales.
This week, home appliance maker Hisense debuted its World Cup TVs at the ongoing 122th Canton Fair in the southern China city of Guangzhou.
The customized ULED TVs, with several pre-installed World Cup apps, including the official FIFA World Cup app, are scheduled to go on sale worldwide in April 2018.
Hisense became an official sponsor of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in April this year. It was the first Chinese consumer electronics brand to sponsor the high-profile tournament.
"We had achieved successful brand awareness by sponsoring the UEFA European Championship and have also undertaken TV display cooperation projects with FIFA. These helped us win the World Cup sponsorship opportunity," said Huang Xiaojian, vice-president of Hisense International Co Ltd.
Hisense have also sponsored the Australian Open tennis tournament, NASCAR racing in the United States, the Red Bull Racing F1 team and Germany's Schalke 04 football club.
In recent years, Chinese businesses have started to sponsor global and regional sports events to boost their brand awareness in a bid to expand overseas, rather than relying heavily on traditional sales channels like the Canton Fair, the world's largest comprehensive trade fair.
Earlier FIFA World Cups and Olympic Games were often dominated by American, European, Japanese and Republic of Korea sponsors. Now Chinese brands are taking the stage.
Many other consumer electronics makers, like Vivo, Oppo, Huawei and ZTE, have taken similar market strategies.
In May, smartphone maker Vivo signed a six-year contract with FIFA to sponsor the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.
Ni Xudong, senior vice-president of Vivo, said the World Cup will help Vivo boost brand awareness and increase sales.
Hisense's overseas sales soared 30.2 percent year on year in the first three quarters of the year, boosted by the World Cup sponsorship. Growth in the UK and United States markets was even stronger at 41.3 percent and 54.4 percent, respectively.
"Sports go beyond national boundaries. Through sponsorships of major sporting events, Hisense quickly won more customers and leapt from a domestic to an international brand," said Huang.
Huang said the growth in overseas markets also came from improvements in product quality and opening of more sales outlets.
To better cash in on the World Cup, Hisense opened a new subsidiary in Russia this year, increasing its overseas branches to 13.
"After getting to know the products, customers need to have channels to buy them and products should also be reliable," said Huang.
Without having quality products and sales outlets, sponsorships would be just a waste of money, he said.
A similar marketing strategy has also helped mobile phone maker ZTE win more customers. ZTE has become the fourth largest smartphone maker in the North American market and fifth largest in the European market.
Chinese firms need to sponsor more sporting events to boost brand awareness to catch up with overseas rivals, said Feng Tao, CEO of Shankai Sports.
"We need to sponsor more high-end events to continue to improve our brand awareness and influence," said Huang, adding that the firm intends to sponsor the next UEFA European Championship.
"If we do not continue our strategy, the marketing will not have a significant effect," Huang said.