The Irish Sponsorship market grew by 14 per cent in 2018 and now stands at an estimate value of €204 million.
This is one of the headline figures to emerge from the annual Onside Irish Sponsorship Industry survey which we can share with you this morning.
Onside has long been a stroing player in the sponsorship sector and is an active member of the Sport for Business community, working alongide many of the biggest brands involved in sport and entertainment partnerships.
It is forecasting that the growth will not stop there with another rise of 11 perccent predicted for 2019, 70 per cent of that likely in sport.
This will be fuelled by half of existing sponsors planning to increase their spend over the next twelve months and competition to get access to the best assets.
“With 67 per cent of sponsors seeking new sponsorship opportunities, and only 40 per cent of existing assets potentially becoming available through exits by current sponsors, 2019 will again see a competitive marketplace as sponsors jostle for a limited supply of good assets,” said Onside Founder and CEO John Trainor.
“We believe that despite concerns at a macro level over issues like Brexit, that the powerful impact of sponsorship will reult in further gains this year of around 11 per cent lifting the overall market to around €226 million.”
“There has been a marked surge in the numbers of sponsoring companies investing close to one in every four euros of their overall marketing and communications spend on sponsorship.”
“Hot sectors to watch in 2019 according to our industry research are travel and airline sectors, with banking, telcos and beer also expected to be key drivers of the increasing spend this year.”
“Seven in ten sponsors that are looking for a new sponsorship in 2019 will be looking for a sports play, with properties in rugby seen as providing top growth opportunities for sponsors, and GAA offering the strongest potential in terms of ‘value for money’”.
Reflecting on the standard of activity produced by the collective Irish sponsorship industry last year, 57 per cent of industry practitioners surveyed felt that sponsorship campaigns in Ireland in 2018 were ‘more effective’ than previous years.
Vodafone’s partnership with the IRFU was again voted by the industry as the best sponsorship of the past year, followed by Lidl with Ladies Gaelic Football and Softco with the Irish Women’s Hockey team.
That theme of Women’s sport being of rising interest is backed up by three in four sponsors believing that women’s sport in general provides a significant opportunity for sports sponsors in 2019, up 14% year on year.
The “20×20“ campaign, which aims to increase attendance, participation and coverage of women’ sport in Ireland by 20 per cent by 2020 has also had a strong early impact according to Trainor, with 84 per cent of sponsorship practitioners already familiar with the initiative.
Looking ahead to 2019, half of the sponsors interviewed by Onside believe that the Rugby World Cup will provide an opportunity for their businesses to engage with consumers in Ireland, versus only 16 per cent that held the same view of the FIFA World Cup in Russia last summer.
Challenges to the industry uncovered by the Onside research include the range of sectors that will come under increased scrutiny by government and other interest groups.
In terms of self-governance, two thirds of rights holders in Ireland are already or likely to introduce a self-imposed ban on sponsorship of their organisations by electronic cigarette companies within the next two years, compared with half in the case of gambling sponsors, and as many as 40 per cent in the case of a high fat / sugar / salt foods.
Live Streaming has grown as the area of innovative marketing that Irish sponsorship practitioners believe will provide the best opportunity to activate sponsorships in 2019, increasing by 22 per cent for sponsors, while social media marketing still remains key for rights holders.
“Rugby at all levels will be a major driving force keeping the momentum behind Irish sponsorship strong – from the rebooted Guinness Six Nations Championship, to the Dublin hosted European LGBT Union Cup tournament in June,” concluded Trainor.
“On the business side, deepening loyalty is a much bigger part of the game plan for sponsors in 2019 than over the past two years – both in terms of customer loyalty and employee loyalty, which will be aligned with a significantly renewed appetite for the media exposure potential of sponsorship to form three key goals of sponsorship deals being negotiated or activated in 2019.”