The Biggest Trends Affecting Marketing in Sports

This article was written by Mildred Delgado

There was a time where big-name sponsorship deals were the bread and butter of sports marketing. However, since there’s been an overload of advertising and new channels for marketing, there are now new and exciting opportunities for both brands and sports clubs to build deeper and more meaningful relationships with their audiences. In this article, we’ll explore the top trends in sports marketing that brands should be aware of.

Women and Sports

This may surprise some readers, but a recent report from Nielsen Sports found that 84% of sports fans consider women’s sport to be more progressive and inspiring then men’s sports, which is driven by money. This means the public is incredibly receptive to women’s sports and this is a huge opportunity for marketing. Consumers want the brands that they go to to represent equality, diversity, and inclusion as some of their top causes.

Brands are already aware of this trend. For example, Nike has included women’s sports front and centre in its ‘Dream Crazier’ campaign recently. This was narrated by Serena Williams and represents a call for women in sports to stand up to gender biases and stereotyping in sports. This was great for the conversation around creating a level playing field for women in sports.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

It’s still the early stages of virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), but there are already instances of brands and clubs using platforms like Instagram or Snapchat to build an interactive or immersive experience for their global audiences, in and out of the stadium. There are benefits to this technology for advertisers and broadcasters as well as teams and brands.

Recently, there have been trials in technology to make the experience of TV viewers more personalised, specifically during football games. One notable example was in 2018 when the Football Association and ITV set up a test during a friendly between England and Costa Rica. As per Henry Dodds, a sports writer at WriteMyX and BritStudent, “some dynamic perimeter ads were set up around the pitch and streamed to different audiences depending on their location using something called Virtual Replacement Technology. It essentially allowed different viewers to see different advertisements.” 

Social Media

Social channels continue to be a major factor for fanbase building and boosting brand opportunities for individual athletes and sports teams. Social channels such as Instagram and Twitter are great platforms to build and engage fanbases and communities. It’s also a prime advertising space, that can help develop a more human side of athletes and give fans virtually 24/7 access to their favoured sport or athlete. 

Thanks to Instagram stories and live streams, athletes and teams can give their audience some exclusive or access behind the scenes to training sessions and more. This is a great opportunity to make fans feel more connected to their heroes.

Cause Marketing

There is a move in the sports industry for cause marketing, which involves personalities using their reach and authority to bring key issues to light. This includes sports legends speaking up about mental health issues and promoting related charities, especially in terms of men’s mental health. By showing powerful male athletes openly discussing feelings and the importance of supporting each other, there is a strong message about the need to move past traditional masculine stereotypes.

Todd Egans, a marketer at 1Day2Write and Next Coursework, explains that “brands should be exploring narratives to involve their target audiences that can make supporters feel closely linked and connected to the successes of their teams and clubs.”

ESports

Esports has grown enormously in the last few years, which hasn’t escaped sports teams. Because football teams, in particular, have a huge fanbase that plays video-games, these clubs have seen the benefit of eSports. For example, the Spanish football team Real Madrid has unveiled plans for a high-tech stadium that will include an arena for eSports. In 2018, the Tottenham Hotspurs football club was one of 20 Premier League teams that set up a fan competition which offered winners the chance to compete and represent their team in the ePremier League. 

There is a ton of investment in eSports right now and all indications are that this will continue to be a trend that dominates sports marketing in years to come.

Marketing strategist Mildred Delgado works for Academic Brits and PhD Kingdom. She works with different companies and individuals to develop marketing strategies that stand out from the crowd. Mildred also works for Origin Writings on the subject of sports news, her passion.

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