It’s already been a week in the wild world of sports and it’s only Wednesday. US soccer fans started out disappointed as the women’s team completed a goalless draw with Portugal, missing out on being bounced from the tournament by mere inches. The driver we all love to hate, Max Verstappen, is one win away from another F1 record after his eighth race victory in a row at the Belgian Grand Prix. And the MLB’s golden boy, Justin Verlander, was just traded back to Houston less than a year after he left for the Mets.
When it comes to professional sports, there’s never a lack of news. Or excitement. Or anxiety… Corporate sports sponsorships are always a smart move to get messaging in front of an engaged audience — and show no sign of slowing down. According to the most recent data, the global sports sponsorship market size hit $63.1 billion in 2021 and is forecasted to grow to $109.1 billion by 2030. Below are five traits corporate sponsors look for in sports partners:
1) A strong Gen-Z strategy
To hit this target demo, sports teams and leagues must understand what Gen Z needs, how they consume content, and how to capture (and keep) their attention. A study commissioned by Vizrt and conducted by OnePoll found:
- Gen Z prefers watching live sport on the go rather than viewing it at home or in a bar (because it’s more convenient).
- 74% of Zoomers get most of their sports content from social media — more than any other generation.
- The love of live sports is dying out among the younger generations, with just 58% of Gen Z enjoying it.
Virtual elements are hugely important in making the experience more immersive. Nearly one-third (29%) of sports fans are more likely to watch a broadcast if graphics and virtual elements are used. The importance of creating captivating content using augmented reality graphics, virtual studios, data, and sports analysis tools is essential to 77% of younger viewers.
2) Year-round fan engagement
Live games can’t be the only source of fan engagement. Teams and leagues need to stay top-of-mind year-round. This includes players as representatives on talk shows, daytime TV, and even celebrity competition shows, as well as throwback game streams to keep sponsors happy. Deloitte found that the more fans are engaged year-round the more likely they will spend on tickets and merchandise during the season.
Making a good first impression on fans is vital. It has the power to make or break a new relationship and often begins with a welcome email following a sign-up. Implementing an automated welcome journey is an absolute must-have for any brand looking to drive customer engagement. Throw away the one-size-fits-all model and capitalize on targeting key fan segments with personalized content. Deliver that ultra-personal experience with data to drive engagement.
3) Clear OOH opportunities
Sponsorships come in all shapes and sizes, but, out-of-home advertising really hits in the summer months. These advertising properties are distinct entities that cater to a specific audience. Each property has its own assets with both tangible and intangible benefits. Examples of properties would include:
- Advertising in the arena, stadium, etc.
- Broadcast rights
- Sampling rights
- Pouring rights/rights to food and beverage
- Stadium naming rights
- Logo placement on tickets, jerseys, etc.
4) Social media tie-in
Today, social media is where fans stream sports events, even if it’s just to watch a 10-second. In fact, according to The Sponsorship Space, 80% of fans use social media during live sporting events, both at the actual events and at home. So not only are videos of the event appearing online after they happen, but social media users post about the sporting event in real time.
This means that brands have a wider range of platforms on which to advertise. Brands have dozens of platforms from which to generate new revenue opportunities. Stadiums are fully connected with WiFi, HD screens, and beacon technology, so teams and sponsors can deepen their engagement with fans.
5) Alternative options
“Nontraditional” sports like surfing, motocross, or boxing (have you read about Gen Z’s interest?) need sponsors, too. Red Bull discovered this early. The corporate sponsor’s influence in extreme sports includes windsurfing, cliff diving, rock climbing, and even its own Air Racing series. eSports also provides ample sponsorship opportunities and may garner greater influence for their brand partners while they build sponsorship strategies.