Sports emerging as preferred marketing tool for brands: SportzConsult

MUMBAI: Sports emerged as the most preferred marketing tool over celebrities, events and product placements in movies, music or art, according to a survey conducted by SportzConsult, a Mumbai-based sports management company.

The survey spoke to over a hundred senior marketing professionals across sectors such as FMCG, Automotive, Telecom and BFSI. Of this group, 83 per cent have already used sports in their marketing campaigns and 72 per cent have seen positive results.

Of the brands that have not yet used sports as a marketing tool, 77 per cent have affirmed it as a course of action in the near future, as per the survey.

The survey was designed to demonstrate the trends and perceptions in the use of sports as a marketing tool among brands in India, including the primary reasons to engage sports for brand marketing, the channels of engagement, key audiences and evaluation of sport based marketing campaigns.

Commenting on the results of the survey, SportzConsult Co-Founder and CEO Jitendra Joshi said, ?Sports has the power to mobilise and motivate. In the coming years, brand managers have the huge opportunity to leverage the positive attributes of sports and earn better ROI on marketing spends. The growing adoption of sports for marketing among corporate India will be a win-win for both brands and consumers.?

Passion drives brands to sports

Passion, youthfulness and the association with active lifestyle came up as the top attributes for choosing sport over other options. Nearly 75 per cent of the respondents favoured one of these attributes as the key driver for a sports engagement.

Only one quarter of the respondents cited iconic nature of the sportsmen as the key reason for associating with sport. Given the fact that over 50 per cent of the population are under the age of 26 years, marketers believe that sports is the most attractive platform to engage their target audience.

While popular sports like cricket and football are still the top choices for marketers, it emerged in the survey that these choices may not always provide the real bang for buck, especially if you want to concentrate on a niche audience.

According to many brands ( more than 40 per cent of the respondents), an exclusive sport like golf or traditional sports like Kho-Kho & Kabaddi are a much better way to engage the relevant target group.

Moreover, the heightened need for a healthy and active lifestyle among working professionals is making marathons increasingly popular among marketers, as 24 per cent of the respondents cite a marathon as an ideal marketing opportunity.

Sports is a strategic and long term commitment among Indian marketers

More than half the respondents looked at their association with sports for brand-building as strategic and long term, indicating the growing relevance of sports in the marketing mix. Of this group, 67 per cent of the respondents considered using sports as a strategic long term decision rather than a tactical approach.

While over 70 per cent of respondents count TV advertising spots as the main component of their engagement with sports, almost 95 per cent cited professional event sponsorships as the best option for brands looking at stepping up their reach among the TA. While over 85 per cent of the brands used existing sports properties, 45 per cent of them had also created their own properties around sports as part of their marketing campaign. However, the survey also revealed the perception that creation of sports properties is risky, as against investments in popular properties.

The number of participants and spectators emerged as the most important criteria that brands cite in evaluating a sports program. The next two important factors while evaluating a sports program were the opportunities to leverage brand with the event and media promotion and impressions.

Spend on sports sponsorships to go up

Over 65 per cent of the brands responding to the survey have spent over Rs 10 million on sports-led marketing campaigns, while 35 per cent of the group has spent over Rs 50 million. Not surprisingly, IPL attracts the big chunk of sports sponsorships spends. 60 per cent of the total respondents have confirmed an increase in their investments in sports in the coming years. However, despite this buoyant interest in sports as a marketing tool, around 30 per cent of the respondents still spend less than 10 per cent of their marketing budget on sports, citing the nebulous nature of sports sponsorships in India.

Effectiveness of sports-led marketing campaigns tied to sales and customer perceptions

As much as 82 per cent of the respondents measure perception changes owing to the sports-led campaigns, while 62 per cent of the group preferred tangible results such as direct impact on sales as the top criteria for evaluating the success of a sport-led marketing campaign. Yet, over 50 per cent of the group believe that the need of the hour is a more effective evaluation toolkit to measure the impact of sports-led campaigns.

Leveraging sports sponsorships

The survey revealed that while sports sponsorships are popular, Indian marketers, have not mastered the art of leveraging sponsorship programs for continued and long-term marketing success. While sponsorships help brands attain reach and visibility among TA, leveraging the sponsorship is generally more crucial to meeting one?s marketing and organisational goals. In India, only 7.2 per cent of the brands have invested 100 per cent equivalent of the sports sponsorship investments (a norm in markets such as the US and Europe) in leverage programmes, while nearly 38 per cent of the brands invested an equivalent of less than 25 per cent of the sponsorship spend on these programmes.

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