Global: Which industries are best suited for sports sponsorship?

In an age of increased digitisation, sports sponsorship is one of the few offline mediums that offer brands an opportunity to reach out to consumers en masse. It explains why brands are willing to pay millions of dollars per year in a bid to establish a relationship with the fan bases of sports clubs, events, and organisations.

But brands from certain industries might be better placed than others to capitalise on the platform of sports sponsorships, according to a new YouGov study conducted across 17 markets worldwide.

Globally, automobile manufacturers are the most likely to be considered a good fit for sports sponsorships. Over a third of consumers (36%) think automakers are appropriate sponsors of professional sports clubs, leagues or athletes. Tech (34%) and telecommunication (34%) brands follow closely behind. Three in five consumers also consider banks and insurance brands (31%) and tourism (31%) companies as appropriate sponsors for sports properties.

Pharma brands don’t score too well in comparison, with only one in six (17%) consumers globally saying they make for appropriate sports sponsors.

Remarkably, despite the gambling industry’s close and long-standing links with sports business, only 12% of consumers say they are “appropriate sponsors of professional sports clubs, leagues or athletes”. Cryptocurrencies have signed a number of noteworthy sports sponsorships lately, but only one in ten consumers think they make for appropriate partners (10%). We have previously looked at whether sports sponsorships help cryptocurrencies acquire legitimacy.

Sentiments around how appropriate it is for certain industries to engage in sports sponsorships can be quite diverse across various markets. For instance, only 28% of consumers in Singapore think automakers make for appropriate sports sponsors. That number shoots up to 48% of Indonesians (online representative sample).

Brits and Germans are among the least likely to feel cryptocurrencies are appropriate as sports sponsors (6%), whereas Americans (11%) are far more accepting. Urban Indians top the list, however, with more than one in five of them (22%) saying cryptocurrencies “make for appropriate sponsors of professional sports clubs, leagues or athletes”.

A fifth of consumers in France (20%) and urban Mexico (20%) think it appropriate for gambling brands to engage in sports sponsorships. Consumers in Britain (7%), Italy (7%) and Singapore (7%) sit at the other end of the spectrum.

The ability of brands to cash in on sports sponsorships is determined by myriad factors. And a brand from an industry with a low level of approval for sports sponsorships might still be able to launch effective partnerships in the sports industry. But these consumer views are a factor that marketers can keep in mind when developing their plans to engage with sport – or with sponsors.

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Methodology: The data is based on the interviews of adults aged 18 and over in 17 markets with sample sizes varying between 511 and 2628 for each market. All interviews were conducted online in November 2021. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples.