Learning from the best: Sports marketing examples to inspire your marketing strategy

Attention to female audiences; ever-increasing personalization; new technological frontiers: these are some key areas that sports marketing is focusing on. Here are some sports marketing examples! Sports are an increasingly important part of our lives. Leading a healthy and active life is now a top priority for a growing number of people, worldwide.

 

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That’s not all. There is also the side of the sports industry that is closely related to entertainment: from classic matches in stadiums, arenas, or any type of sports center, to esports, which take place in all-digital arenas. In this area, too, there is great change: the ways of “seeing sport” are changing at an increasingly rapid pace. Sports facilities themselves are becoming increasingly technological and “people-friendly,” first and foremost. Then there are the classic television channels, which have multiplied. Streaming and on-demand services have revolutionized the way they can be enjoyed. Not to mention social networks and the new ways of communicating with stars, top influencers, but also “micro” and “nano” influencers.

In short, the sports sector has changed and continues to do so at an ever-increasing pace, in all its complex and interwoven aspects. Marketers in the field are “condemned” to be dynamic, to stay up to date, to always looking toward the future, toward what is moving on the horizon, trying to see it before the competition.

On our blog, we have published a post that focuses on the changes in marketing and communication in the sports sector, to which we refer you for all the relevant insights.

In another post, we focused on new trends, identifying the 10 most significant and promising.

Now we want to be even more concrete and talk about successful sports marketing examples from which to draw inspiration.

We have chosen to divide them into three distinct sections, which will allow us to focus on three general themes, three different trends that these campaigns have successfully tried to intercept.

The first concerns the broadening of the target audience, with attention on the massive growth of the female audience. 

The second is the focus on personalization, which is perhaps the most incisive shift that digital has made in marketing and communication.

In the third and final section, we will delve into the use of the most advanced technologies impacting these successful sports marketing examplessuch as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Today we are only at the beginning, but it is already clear that the future of sports marketing could come from here, with enormous margins for development.

More and more female – “This girl can.” 

Among the most noticeable and important strands of change in the sports sector is certainly the widening of the target audience and the diversification of the target itself.

This growth concerns both the fitness and sportswear sides, and that of “sports shows” in general.

First of all, it’s a geographic expansion. For example, today it’s much more common for an Italian to follow any American championship. But just think what the expansion towards the Asian market means in terms of numbers…

There is also an expansion in age: more older people are practicing sports, or are otherwise interested in them. Sport as a fundamental element of children’s education is gaining ground even in those parts of the world and in societies that previously had little interest in it.

But the decisive growth concerns gender; thus – approximately – 50% of the population.

Sports, for some time now, has no longer been a “male affair,” and it’s increasingly less so. The increase in the female audience is a trend that is continuously and solidly on the rise. All indicators point in this direction, and all the big brands have noticed.

Here’s an example of a huge success: the “This Girl Can” campaign, created by Sport England. It was launched in 2015, with a dedicated website, a multichannel approach, with high quality video, and also the “cultivation” of a community around the project, especially on social networks.

The stated goal was to close the gender gap in sports participation in Britain.

The results?

Within just one year, the campaign’s main video had received 37 million views.

In addition, according to independent researchers, around 2.8 million women between the ages of 14 and 40 have been influenced by the campaign, and have been led to change their habits and their attitude toward sports. Of those, as many as 1.6 million reported that they had started playing sports or exercising.

The impact on social has been profound: just type the hashtag #thisgirlcan on Twitter or Instagram to see for yourself.

In short, an overwhelming success, so much so that the campaign has been replicated several times, trying – not surprisingly – to expand the target audience to a female audience over 60 years of age.

Always more personal – Nike and Adidas 

Digital Transformation has radically revolutionized marketing across all industries, and the sports industry is certainly no exception.

The impact of digital has been huge and multi-faceted. But the heart of this paradigm shift is the gigantic and unprecedented availability of data about one’s audience, one’s target.

Put another way, today it is possible to know one’s own audience, even when it is vast, by following its digital traces. As a result, it is possible to divide it into coherent segments to be intercepted with tailor-made marketing and communication actions. 

This is what we mean when we talk about Big Data analytics and data-driven marketing (and we dedicated an entire post to this topic on the sports industry. You can find it here: The role of Big Data in sports marketing.

But that’s not all. For some time now, the keyword that has been gaining momentum is “personalization.” 

So, going beyond the identification of audience clusters, to really aim at individuals. This is personalized marketing, which specialized companies like Doxee deal with: it’s tailored to individuals, one-to-one, and constantly evolving.

Are there any successful sports marketing examples that we can refer to?

Mike Parker, the CEO of Nike, said that the legendary sports brand’s goal is to “be increasingly personal, at scale.” (qz.com).

And from words came actions, on several fronts. First of all, the personalized Nike+ apps, for example, record an average expenditure per user as three times that of the nike.com shop (qz.com).

Then there’s the whole side of wearable devices, another really valuable source of targeted and personal data (thenextweb.com). But personalization has also been put on track for major events sponsorships (see the case of the 2018 FIFA World Cup here).

One of Nike’s first competitors comes to mind…  Adidas.

Even this historical brand has decided to focus more on personalization (retailtouchpoints.com).

To us, one thing seems very clear: if two industry giants, who have been competing for decades, agree on a point, that point must be really important. And this point, we have seen, is called personalization.

It’s not science fiction anymore – Virtual Reality, Manchester United, and others  

According to many experts, the future of marketing could come from some technologies that until yesterday seemed almost science fiction.

We’re talking about Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Hybrid Reality.

Many brands in the sports industry have made, or are making, interesting experiments in this direction.

Here, we point out the historic Manchester United soccer team, which first (in 2017) implemented Virtual Reality projects aimed at its fans and spectators in the stadium, in collaboration with Oculus, a division of Facebook, all focused on VR projects (wearesocial.com).

From soccer to engines: the Read Bull Formula 1 team uses Virtual Reality to give fans the racetrack experience onboard one of its single-seaters (see here).

Then there are the first experiments concerning the sportswear sector: think about the possibility of “virtually trying on” a pair of shoes to evaluate their aesthetics and functionality.

The fields that these new technologies will open up are still to be explored.

What these successful sports marketing examples show us is that we must keep our eyes open. That you have to be daring, identifying trends in advance, but also keeping a close eye on numbers and data. It’s all about balance.

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