The real value of sponsoring
Sport is about emotion. People feel an emotional bond with sportspeople, teams and events. The sponsoring of sporting events enables brands to build an emotional link with a relevant group of consumers in a way that no other marketing tool can. For that reason, the aim of sponsoring goes much further than reach alone. The unique value of sponsoring lies in bolstering the connection between consumer and brand. That is why sponsoring should ultimately lead to better scores in terms of brand objectives. Things like brand recognition, image, preference and purchase.
Even so, the success of sponsoring is often expressed in terms of media value. How often or how long have consumers been exposed to the brand thanks to sponsoring? This may well give an impression of the reach, but it says nothing at all about the extent to which a sponsor manages to shore up that emotional connection with the target group. Even if exposure is high, this is no guarantee that the unique value of sponsoring will be realised.
So we focus on measuring the real indicators of the success of sponsoring. Those are indicators that reflect the impact that sponsoring has on the brand in question. Our research reveals how sponsoring strengthens the emotional bond between brand and consumer. We use those insights to help sponsors maximise the unique value of their sponsorship.
The impact of sponsoring on brands
So sponsoring is primarily of value when building a relationship with the most important target groups. What is that precisely, that emotional connection? And how can you measure it?
There are all sorts of structures related to brands in the mind of a consumer which, together, form the image that they have of a brand. With the help of research into the impact of sponsoring, we are able to identify how sponsorship affects the structures related to the brand. And we help sponsors to select the right strategy to strengthen the emotional connection.
We know that 95% of all our choices are driven by the unconscious mind, so we do not ask people directly what they think of a particular brand. Our research methods correspond to the way in which processes evolve in a consumer's mind. We use implicit measurement methods to identify how strong the emotional connection with a brand is, and which associations a person has in relation to a particular brand.
In order to be able to determine whether, and in what way, sponsoring makes a contribution to the emotional connection between brand and consumer, we need to know the extent to which people are involved in the sponsored domain (usually a sport) and the form that involvement takes. Someone who only watches videos of the most spectacular Champions League goals will be exposed in a different way to the brands of sponsors than someone who watches as many live matches as possible, or someone who follows the big European clubs primarily via Instagram.
We measure involvement with the sport by identifying the role that the sport in question plays in people's lives. In addition, we closely monitor the way in which they follow that sport. Which channels they use to do so, which devices they use; for instance, do they watch several screens at once, what is their favourite content etc.
By measuring the engagement with the sport and the emotional connection with the sponsors’ brands at different moments in time, we can analyse whether or not the sponsoring has a noticeable effect. And by making the link to media behaviour, it is also possible for us to let a sponsor know what it needs to do to bolster the connection with a specific group. In that way we can make a real contribution to optimisation of the impact that sponsorships have, and help sponsors to maximise the return on their investment.