Onside Monitor Reveals Consumer Demand for Brands to Stand By Sport

The number of reported sponsorship deals dropped 14 per cent in the first three months of 2020 versus the same quarter last year, according to the latest Onside Sponsorship Market Monitor.

Half of Irish consumers though are calling on brands to continue to support their favourite sport, music, arts or cultural events through sponsorship, despite the impact of COVID-19 across every aspect of life.

The latest figures released by Onside shows that this is double the number of people who would favour a decrease in spending in these areas this year.

“The Irish public’s deep affinity toward sponsors is evidenced in the finer detail of our latest research when we compare the levels of public preference to see companies continue to support the sport and entertainment sector in Ireland versus the UK market,” said John Trainor, Founder and CEO of Onside.

“While the largest support in Ireland was for a ‘maintain’ or ‘increase’ approach by businesses, our survey found more calling for sponsorship spend to decrease in the UK, where 4 in 10 favour a drop in sport sponsorship investment.”

Support for Sporting Decisions Stronger in Ireland

Just seven per cent of Irish adults disapproved of the way sport’s governing bodies in Ireland have acted during the COVID-19 crisis, compared with 18 per cent in the UK.

There is also encouragement for organisations in the cause and non-profit space with seven in ten of the Irish and UK public united in their call-out to brands to continue to maintain or increase their sponsorship support of these key bodies.

The important role that Ireland’s high-profile personalities can play in the current crisis is highlighted by the fact that 77 per cent of Irish adults feel it is important that popular sports and entertainment personalities do what they can to support the battle against COVID-19.

One trend that both Trainor and ONSIDE consultant and Galway Hurling star Joe Canning see persisting is a fresh, more creative use of athlete talent.

“Global and local stars have been increasing their connection and creativity, with and without their sponsors, to social platforms as a means of staying public during their inactivity,” added Trainor.

“Many have come together for greater effect, including internationally the NBA’s Stephen Curry interviewing key US infectious diseases advisor Dr Anthony Fauci, and locally the ‘unite by staying apart’ initiative supported by many of Ireland’s top sports stars.”

“Athletes are open to working with brands as much as brands want to work with athletes through these challenging times,” said Canning.

“As long as together new ways are found to keep it interesting for people. This is the time to think outside the box and make things interesting and different.”

Return to Action

The return to action cannot come soon enough for some but there are many more who will be cautious about a quick return to sporting and entertainment venues.

29 per cent of Irish adults said they are planning to attend live sports and entertainment events as soon as possible once the ‘stay at home’ requirement is lifted, compared to 43 per cent holding off for now on planning this way.

The alternative scenario of sports going ahead behind closed doors without spectators in the live setting is also splitting public sentiment, with 28 per cent for this strategy and 44 per cent against.

“This shows the complexity of the decisions to be made by rights holders and sponsors in planning how they play out the months ahead to deliver in the right way for their loyal customers and fans,” concluded Trainor

The latest survey of consumers follows on from our own work with Onside on the COVID-19 Sports Impact Monitor published here last week and discussed by John Trainor and Rob Hartnett below.

The Onside Sponsorship Market Monitor research took place between April 9th and 13th and included a base of 1,000 adults in Ireland and 2,000 adults in Britain.

Sport for Business Members can get more detail around the headline results by contacting Onside here.

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