The change in consumer trends, particularly those accelerated by COVID-19, has altered how fan interact with each other and with the properties of sports. These changes in trends have seen escalations in changes to the brand partnership landscape and are presenting brands with challenges but also opportunities to connect and leverage sports fans' purchase and engagement behaviours. Sports brands are now moving towards more digitally driven activations, which help them generate valuable first party data to execute more personalised consumer messaging and products.
Sports fans present an attractive consumer demographic for brands sponsoring sports rights holders, given their strong brand recognition and trust that comes with such partnerships. Nielsen Fan Insights (2021) reported that "81% of fans completely or somewhat trust brand sponsorships at sporting events", while "sponsorships drove an average 10% lift in purchase intent".
These statistics highlight the strong demand for the attention of sports fans by brands and their continual search to find the best methods to engage and convert these fans to customers.
Sports sponsorship activations are evolving
With the evolution of the modern sports fan resulting in more digitally oriented supporters who want access to their sport content 24/7 across a number of different mediums, sponsors are looking at more refined, laser targeted activations that drive valuable fan behaviour insights and data.
With the amount of global sports sponsorship revenue estimated to have been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic sitting at $18.1B (Sports Innovation Lab, 2020), the sports sponsorship model is seeing a change right before our eyes.
Instead of the old fashioned methods of selling signage, naming rights and entitlements brands are transitioning to new models like off-the field causes, digital agility and disposable inventory.