Sports marketing: Tool for connecting with consumers’ passion-points 

By Felicia Nwosu

In recent times, round the globe, soccer has become the golden chick that lays the golden egg for sports marketers.  Brands have realised how powerful sporting activities are, especially soccer, in uniting people irrespective of age, race, gender, culture, or nationality.

Getting customer’s attention these days has also become a herculean task, which is why brands are now employing marketing strategies that build rapport, promote partnership, trust and authority, and also creates irresistible experiences, one that overcomes consumer lack of interest, and one that can improve consumer sentiment towards the brand. This is where sports marketing comes in.

To maintain and sustain strategic market positioning, the Heineken brand, for years now, has held on to UEFA Champions League, not leaving it for any other brand. Heineken has continued to be the official sponsor, creating an exciting and memorable experience for soccer lovers at various viewing centers and, at the same time, increasing its positioning, equity and competitive advantage over its competitors. This is sports marketing in action!

According to statistics made available by TWOREPORT Analysis and SponsorTrack, over N10 billion from over 62 deals have been recorded as the annual sponsorship spends, while more than half of that amount is the average annual spends by brands in Nigeria.

Gbolahan Sanni, Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria Ltd, while responding from the marketing perspective, said, sports marketing simply means brand weaving itself around the passion-points of consumers to create a positive image of the brand in the minds of consumers. He stated: “Nigeria is a football nation. The passion that Nigerians have for football is real; the consumers are big fans of the Super Eagles, and so is Coca-Cola too. This is why it is partnering with Nigeria Football Federation to support the Super Eagles. It is always good to follow the direction of the consumers because once they love something, brands have no choice but to love it as well.”

The Marketing Director emphasised the importance of brands-consumers partnership, stressing that about 60-70% of what is said about a brand is through word of mouth. He described sports marketing as a tool for the recruitment and acquisition of customers.

Gbolahan believes that sharing the passion-points of consumers helps a brand to win reluctant consumers, as well as transform the love and passion of consumers for sports towards a brand, helping to strengthen the brands positioning and competitive advantage.

Richard Iweanoge, Chief Executive Officer, Papyrus Digital Solutions Ltd, in the same vein, noted that as brand owners continuously seek to engage with their target audience, they deploy various market positioning and differentiation strategies, including psychographic segmentation. They do this by understanding the passion-points of consumers, and soccer happens to be one important passion point for Nigerians.

He added also that sports marketing is a strategic tool in modern marketing communication that focuses on the audience rather than the product. “As a brand, if you want people to remember you and things about you, or to associate you with those positive feelings of the things they love, then you have to be part of those things they love. It is a psychological thing that is difficult to explain, but it is good for brands.”

Friday Adikwu, Sports content producer with   the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Lagos Network Centre,   in his own response, said the benefits brands tend to gain in sports marketing is huge. He said: “The benefit is symbiotic in nature, in the sense that the brand gets more visibility through the viewership, especially if it is aired on national television.

According to the content producer, “sponsorship creates the possibility of achieving several goals at once, such as improving image and affecting consumers’ attitudes towards a brand.  Brands leveraging on consumers’ emotion by weaving round the events that appeal to them is likely to shape buying attitudes and help generate a positive reaction from the consumer”.

On the part of the consumer, Adikwu said it also affects the buying decision of a customer, especially when a brand is giving out freebies.   It is easy for a user of a particular network to move to another when he finds out that such a network is giving special offers that others are not offering. For complementary goods, that consumer can easily switch to a product that is adding value and giving him special treatment.

Globally, sports marketing has become an accepted and widely practiced strategy because of its multi-tier advantages for both the brand and the consumer. Though the ROI on sports marketing is not easily amenable to measurement, the passion ingredient in this marketing form makes it a powerful and easy way of establishing and sustaining brand/consumer connectedness.


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