What are the new trends in sports marketing? We have selected 10 of the most interesting: from changing audiences to sustainability, personalization and the frontiers of virtual reality.
The sports industry is a vast sector that borders on fitness, health, pure entertainment, as well as areas that are at the frontier of digital in all its forms. It has a large and very diverse audience, in terms of age, geography and society. And above all – it is a hyper-dynamic sector, one that is constantly changing.
All this can only be reflected in the marketing of this sector: a playground where you have to know how to operate in a current and fashionable way, but also well ahead of other players.
In this article on our blog, we have been keeping up with all the major changes in marketing and communication in the sports and fitness industry. Changes which, for the most part, are linked to digital technology, and therefore to the advent of Digital transformation, which has revolutionized all industries, and continues to do so: it is a constant and continuous transformation.
“Digital” means above all to have a huge amount of information about its business processes and its customers at your disposal: this is called Big Data. We have dedicated another article to this theme and its decisive importance in sports marketing.
Now, instead, we want to look to the future. Learning to see what’s on the horizon is the most effective way to gain competitive advantage. This is something businesses of all sizes need to know how to do.
so here’s 10 new trends in sports marketing. These are the trends that will change the dynamics of this industry. In many cases, they have already started to do this.
1. Space for women!
Sport, after all, is a huge mirror of society. It is therefore not surprising that women are becoming more and more important in this field as well. Even sports like soccer attract a more female audience. Just think of the attention captured by the last European Championships in women’s football, also in Italy.
As a result, the female target audience for sports marketing has grown. The margin is still wide and the trend shows no signs of slowing down.
Brands are well aware of all this, and there are many campaigns in this direction. Among these, for their incisive character, we can cite campaigns such as “She move mountain” by North Face, “This Girl Can” commissioned by the British government and “Dream with us” by Nike.
2.… and also for seniors
The population, especially in the western world, is getting older … but at the same time, more and more active and dynamic.
that’s why “Seniors” are (and will be) more and more a decisive target for sports marketing, also because of their purchasing power (an aspect not to be overlooked).
In this sense, a very interesting and daring example is the Adidas “Break Free” advertisement.
3. Young people and esport
If the previous sports marketing trends concerned the older segments of the population, this mainly concerns the youngest… who are also among the most complex for brands to intercept. But learning how to do it is fundamental: it is also important to understand the directions in which the market is moving.
A trend that keeps growing among young people is that of so-called esports, which straddles the border between the games sector and the more general sports sector. According to the latest estimates, in 2021, “electronic sports” fans will reach 250 million. And by 2022, the turnover of this sector will be between 1 billion and 650 million euros (according to the most conservative estimate) and 2 billion euros (esports.gazzetta.it).
4. Responsibility and sustainability
There is another aspect that is of increasing interest to the younger generations: that of social responsibility and the attention paid to environmental sustainability on the part of brands.
The greater sensitivity to these questions is evident. You just have to look around: from Fridays for Future to keywords on social networks, but also to “old” television commercials. But here are some numbers: According to a study by Nielsen, 66% of consumers are even willing to pay more to reward brands that commit to having a positive social and environmental impact (nielsen.com).
5. Intercept communities (including “private”)
Around sport, there are very close communities of fans, enthusiasts, but also technicians and professionals.
Intercepting these communities is fundamental. And this can be done in several ways: with Big Data analysis, for example; by exploiting influencers and micro-influencers (and we will come back to this in the next two points); or, better yet, by combining the two strategies.
There is, however, one part which is playing an increasingly decisive role. And it is a side “in the shadows”, so to speak, so much so that it is often defined as “dark social.“Nothing esoteric, it’s just the” private “part of the internet: WhatsApp groups, chats, closed groups on social networks. It’s an ever-growing part of the Internet, where people exchange ideas and opinions more openly.
This is one of the sports marketing trends that brands should watch more closely. It is about knowing how to fit “naturally” and effectively into these communities. Or – even better – to learn how to build them around your brand.
6. Super influencers …
We often read that influencer marketing has suffered a bit of a contraction lately. And it’s true: top influencers, due to their rise in popularity, are no longer perceived as “authentic” (and that was their strength). But beware: there are two ways to remedy the problem.
The first is not new: turn towards the stars, to “super influencers”. An “old” mechanism, but one which continues to function wonderfully, even in the digital world.
An example? Cristiano Ronaldo has over 200 million followers on Instagram; Juventus, the team where he plays, has “only” 42 million; Nike, one of the brands for which the footballer is the spokesperson, has “only” 120 million).
The second way is to go the other way. What we see in the next point.
7.… and micro-influencers
Let’s go back to the previous point: the opposite way – but just as effective – is to turn to “Micro Influencers” or “Nano Influencers”.
These are people who have a much more direct and authentic relationship with their audience, and all of that translates into increased engagement and loyalty.
In addition, for brands, investing in Micro Influencers also means spreading the budget over more “fronts” and minimizing risk.
8. Interception of individuals
We started with the big numbers, and – finally – we are closing the loop in an increasingly “surgical” way, to reach individuals.
The real trend in sports marketing, the most powerful and effective, is now personalization.. Learn to “know” individuals and send them communications that are perfectly suited to their characteristics, behaviors, customer journeys and potential desires.
There are already many examples of personalized marketing in the sports industry (from Nike with this example, to many NFL teams to NBA, football, to Gatorade – see here).
And There are companies specializing in this type of one-to-one approach, like Doxee, whose goal is to transform data into relationships – increasingly close relationships – between the brand and the customer.
9. Personalization is portable
A very interesting example of the collection of personal data, which is fundamental for personalized marketing, is the widespread distribution of portable devices, known as wearables (in this segment, again, Nike takes the lion’s share; for more details, see here).
According to a recent survey, wearable sales to hit $ 95 million by 2021 (statista.com).
Needless to say, the many opportunities lurking in this specific industry are on the rise.
10. AR, VR, MR: what are we talking about?
Let’s start by dissolving the acronyms: AR indicates Augmented reality, VR indicates Virtual reality. Less known to the general public is on the contrary the MR (Mixed Reality), which indicates the so-called Hybrid reality, an environment where “digital objects” and physical objects coexist and interact with each other.
This is no longer science fiction, and has been for a few years now. The first applications of these technologies in the field of marketing (but also Customer Care) are already among us. Even in the field of sport.
The Red Bull Formula 1 team, for example, have created videos that harness virtual reality, specifically aimed at their fans.
In short, the panorama on the horizon of the sports industry is very interesting, and in constant movement. The challenge for marketing players is always the same: staying open-minded and knowing how to “see things” in advance.