New research from the Women’s Sport Trust has shown the positive outcomes that can be achieved by brands sponsoring women’s sport. The report – developed with the sponsorship consultancy ONSIDE – reveals that 24.5 million adults are now aware of any women’s sport sponsorship in the UK and women’s only deals are proving popular due to their ability to attract new audiences and drive brand affinity.
Overall women’s sport was thought to be a key part of the sports sponsorship mix and potentially more impactful:
- 60 per cent agree that sponsors should invest both in the men’s and women’s side of a sport that they support.
- 63 per cent of women agree that brands sponsoring a sport should give the same level of coverage in advertising to men’s and women’s teams.
- 29 per cent think more favourably of companies or brands that support women’s sport through their sponsorship, compared to 17 per cent that support men’s sport.
- 16 per cent of the UK population are more likely to buy from a brand that sponsors women’s sport, compared to 13 per cent that sponsor a men’s sport.
High-profile sponsorships of women’s sport are achieving significant awareness, with 14.6m people aware of O2’s sponsorship of the England’s women’s rugby team the Red Roses and 14.4m aware of Coca Cola’s sponsorship of the FIFA Women’s Football World Cup.
One of the most exciting findings of the report showed the positive impact brand newcomers, attracted by women’s only deals, are receiving to their partnerships. 53 per cent of those aware of make-up brand Il Makiage’s partnership with Arsenal and 52 per cent aware of Gucci’s partnership with England star Leah Williamson felt more positive about the brands as a result – the best performing of all brands tracked. These partnerships are also driving greater affinity specifically from women, while typically it is men and avid women’s sports fans who are most likely to be aware of a women’s sport sponsorship overall.
Il Makiage’s Arsenal partnership was most successful in driving brand consideration, with 31 per cent of those aware of the sponsorship more likely to consider buying from the brand as a result, compared to an average of 20 per cent across women’s sport sponsorship.
Tammy Parlour, CEO and Co-Founder of the Women’s Sport Trust, said: “This new research clearly demonstrates the positive impact that can be gained for brands if they invest in women’s sport sponsorship.”
Parlour continues, “In order to make women’s sport more sustainable in the long-term, we hope right-holders can learn from these results and produce creative partnership opportunities. This data should provide confidence to the industry that brands can have tangible outcomes across a variety of metrics, without the activation restraints that often occur in men’s sport.”
The Women’s Sport Trust research, produced by ONSIDE, found that a commitment to equal support of men’s and women’s sport and focusing on addressing the inequality of opportunities provided to women and girls in grassroots sports are most impactful in driving a positive sentiment towards the sponsoring brand.
47 per cent said that activations focused on community and grassroots sport would have a more positive impact on brand perception, while 45 per cent said that activations promoting sustainability and environmental initiatives would have a positive impact, challenging rights holders to create packages that provide a platform for brands to activate sponsorship in this space. Fans were also keen for brands to play a role in celebrating the brilliance of on-field athletes, with 38 per cent believing brands should produce content promoting the sport as being exciting.
Jon Long, UK and Middle East Managing Director of ONSIDE added: “This research affirms the marketing value of women’s sport sponsorship and, most importantly, moves the conversation on from investment to activation. The British public, particularly young adults and avid sports fans, want brands to be bolder and broader in their activation of women’s sport sponsorships.”
In both men’s and women’s sport, sponsorships focusing on community/grassroots level activities are most likely to drive recommendation and consideration of the sponsoring brand, with women’s sport found to be slightly more effective than men’s sport. 2 in 5 would like to see more brands engage in sponsorship of women’s sports at a community/grassroots level, rising to 3 in 5 amongst avid women’s sports fans and avid women’s football fans.