Momentum Worldwide Rio de Janeiro’s Sponsorship Director, Rodrigo Coelho recently spoke to industry leading marketing and media magazine Meio&Mensagem, sharing the “Nine Steps For A Brand To Connect To Sports Fans” based on the recent ‘We Know Sports Fans’ research.
No other activity in the world inspires such passion as sports do. Supporters go from euphoria to depression in the blink of an eye- or in a move. Being close to people at such events might make brands associated to the sports scene be stuck forever in the memory and hearts of consumers. The audience is open to this relation, but still doubtful regarding the sponsor's intentions.
This is one of the finds of Momentum's We Know Sports Fans research performed in five world markets aimed at identifying the relation between sports aficionados and the brands associated to large sports events and their sports individually. The research also identified nine steps a brand might take in order to connect with fans (chart below). The agency interviewed two thousand fans in Brazil, Spain, the United Stated, England and Japan, and received mixed responses.
Although around half of the fans agrees that sponsors focus on sports' best interests, 83% believe sponsors never take fans into account, which reveals a growing feeling of distance from the sports events they value. Nevertheless, 89% of interviewees consider sponsors could create new opportunities for their favorite sports and teams, and 86% wouldn't mind seeing even more sponsors in sport. Only 55% consider testing a specific brand or product due to their sponsoring.
"Sports marketing is under the sponsoring umbrella. Whoever realizes this will give continuity to this pillar after the Olympics. It's a powerful platform for relating to people, and they're more open to a relationship. Brands should integrate everything: live marketing, relationship, endomarketing, advertising. The main obstacle is understanding how to use fans' behaviors and contributing to the experience at three moments: from the journey to the event, during and after competition in order to leave something", states Rodrigo Coelho, Momentum's Sponsoring, Sports and Entertainment Director.
Experience is Gold
Despite technological advances, physical presence at events is still considered the best way to connect to sports. 73% of interviewees think shared experience, side by side with other supporters, is what increases their passion. "Rituals with other fans" are actually considered as important as live experiences according to 63% of interviewees. Besides that, 82% said being close to the action at a live competition increases their love for the sport. On the other hand, there's a growing feeling of frustration regarding the rules which determine how they can experience an event (no standing up, no alcohol, no parasols and no logos of sponsor's competitors, for instance).
Social media also has a relevant impact on a sports event. For 58% of fans, being able to share information improves their experience. 53% say content created by other supporters also improves their experience. Millennials between 6 and 35 years of age consider music, advertising and content sharing in social media added value to sports experience. Compared to individuals in other age groups, they're more open to content created by other fans (64% against 46%), to sharing experiences in social media (63% against 44%) and to the presence of advertising in general (50% against 37%).
In Brazil, among 280 interviewees, the openness to sponsors was greater than the global average (see comparison in chart below). Almost all Brazilian supporters consider sponsoring is positive to sport. Besides, most tend to try products and services from brands associated to sports and believe sponsoring improves experience.
"There's an opportunity for brands to create spaces which celebrate the value of fans, putting them in control of these experiences. Brands which support more accessible and aspiring sports, which create a positive impact on health and well-being, and which explore social effects of sports helping local communities end up attaining positive and lasting attention, says Coelho.
Test event at Maracanãzinho: supporters believe sponsoring improves sports experience
Nine Steps For A Brand To Connect To Sports Fans
1 - Create, inspire and reignite key moments. Find ways to connect the experience of watching an event to taking part in it in order to create a memorable positive memory linked to your brand
2 - Be the brand which dreams their dreams and which appreciates rituals inherent to fans. Be at their sides at moments of emotion providing ideas and tools for them to celebrate victories or cope with frustrations
3 - Find alternative ways to generate talk and put your brand in the center of sharing. Find the hook which might attract fans' attentions and offer new content creation platforms
4 - Provide fans with tools so they'll feel more complete: insights instead information, new ways to be close to the event, physically and through media coverage
5 - A live event is action, emotion and drama. Work on that. Take them closer to the action, offer real time analysis, visual content for sharing and use technology to bring them closer
6 - Participants need to do more in order to prove they honestly respect fans' interests. Some sports aficionados believe brands only explore property and do not improve experience
7 - Provide fans with tools so they can be at the center of their own stories and share their experiences in an easier way. Try to associate your brand to memorable and unique moments and be the first to tell the story
8 - There's a gap between fans and their heroes, an it is growing. How can brands help them genuinely relate to their idols and feel a personal connection without destroying the aura around the myth?
9 - Brands which make sports more accessible, which improve the audience experience and generate positive impact in the well-being of the people and society are the ones nourishing the consumers' aspirations and winning their attention
Fans' feelings towards sports
• Brazilians • Global average
90% of Brazilians say sponsoring is good for sport, against a global average of 76%
80% of Brazilians believe Globalization of sports improves their experience as fans, against a global average of 60%
78% of Brazilians say that entertainment before, during and after sports competitions improve their experience at live events, against a global average of 69%
65% of Brazilians say they tend to try products and services associated to sports sponsoring, against a global average of 55%
62% of Brazilians fans say sports sponsoring improves their experience as sports fans, against a global average of 48%
Source: We Know Sports Fans — Momentum Worldwide