Emotion, the key to sponsorship ROI

‘Sport is emotion’. A quotation that is often cited, but research shows that it really is true. People feel an emotional bond, or connection, with sportsmen and women, teams and events. That is the power of sport. More than any other marketing tool, sport sponsorship enables brands to build up an emotional connection with sports fans. And only once a sponsor actually achieves this does sponsorship lead to a return on investment (ROI): the sale of more services and products as a result of sponsorship. But what is that exactly, the emotional connection? And how can you measure it?

Text continues below the image

A consumer's mind is made up of all sorts of structures (such as memories and associations) relating to brands. Together, they form the picture that a consumer has of a brand. The stronger the structures, the more emotionally connected people feel with a particular brand. Research into the impact of sponsorship allows us to identify how a sponsorship influences those structures that relate to the brand. Where the impact is positive, we say there is a stronger emotional connection between brand and fan. Examples of indicators that point to this are:

  • growing brand awareness
  • a better image
  • a stronger brand preference.

And then there's the link with ROI. We at Blauw have been aware for years that the key to sponsorship ROI is consolidating the emotional connection with fans. The greater the bond between a person and a brand, the greater the chance that he or she will go on to buy the brand. Not for nothing does the focus of our research and recommendations lie in establishing and improving this emotional connection. Of course, we would not be true to the Blauw ethos if we did not continue to assess our vision critically. That is why we have recently reviewed our vision on the basis of our most recent world-wide studies into sponsorship effectiveness in events such as the UEFA Champions League, Formula 1 and USA College Sports*.

The conclusions? Each of these studies paints the same picture: only when a sponsor succeeds in building up an emotional connection with individual fans does the sponsorship translate to increased sales of the brand (ROI). If a sponsor fails to achieve this, there is no ROI. Where the emotional bond between fans and a brand becomes stronger, sales volume also increases as a result of the sponsorship. And the opposite is also true. Where the emotional connection between the brand and fans diminishes during the term of the sponsorship, the volume of sales will also decrease as a result of the sponsorship. A picture that was underlined in the studies investigated.

In other words, focusing on sponsorship ROI means focusing on the emotional connection. And this is possible only where you, the sponsor, adapt the information you use to match this. So, get in the driving seat, configure your dashboard and don't forget: ‘Sport is emotion’.

*On the basis of 6 international sponsorship effectiveness studies, carried out in 26 countries, with 237,000 respondents (representative of the general public).

Want to know more?