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Sports Marketing Trends for 2021



Uncertainty linked with the COVID 19 pandemic continues to restrict the future plan as we are already in the middle of 2021 with most sports marketing agencies presently evaluating and planning out what their takeaway should be from the mercurial year 2020 in relation to audience habits, tendencies, and affect on the modified live sports events.


Marketing is tough irrespective of any industry. For a successful growth in business & your brand’s huge presence, you should remain on the top of the marketing trends and this involves the digital ones. All successful marketing campaigns include digital techniques.

Those trends that bring in success are mostly impact-based & are continuously changing and it is crucial to put your finger on the pulse. It informs your campaign to remain relevant and continue to approach your audience and evolve your business.


So, while the globe is completely still in deep flux, we at Talent Resource Sports have deep-dived at few of this year’s prevailing trends that we consider will stick with the sports marketing strategy and what we consider is a crucial factor to be considered in the year 2021.


Political overlap

This year and the year before will be in our eidetic memory for quite a long. The year 2020 has been such that became commonplace for sportspeople, athletes, and sports teams to take on political stride and openly speak about problems linked with social justice. And though there is an extremely charged debate as to whether it has negatively or positively impacted sports viewership current and previous year, one point is completely clear that we do not expect the urge to play and watch sports subsiding in the upcoming future.


More than ever, the sportsperson or athletes are looking to make a huge difference outside the games & practices. Their huge and engaged social media accounts & rising support in form of opportunity and flexibility coming from their leagues and teams endow them with a good platform to create an impact on crucial societal problems.


Those brands looking out to partner with various athletes & influencers from all sectors hold more substantive content to select from as compared to before. Whenever we discuss to the sports marketing agencies in regard to matching up a brand with an athlete, one of the initial questions that come to mind is ‘What is your sportsperson interested in? What are they looking to do once their playing days are over?, What do they actually stand for?’


In case you are not getting any substantive answers to these then the athlete most probably is not correct for your sports brand. Given the correct fit, sports talents can for sure be valuable for your integrated marketing plans, however, ensure there is purpose and substance to any form of partnership.


Note that those players from college can be one of your options for your brand even as NCAA currently has come up with rules about student-athletes who can profit from their name (N), image (I) & likeness (L) (NIL).


Stand for a purpose

One of the trends throughout the marketing landscape is that consumers’ desire for the brands to not just talk regarding making a huge difference but should back that up using tangible action. This can infer resource or financial investment, however, the major key parameter in forming trust by signaling that you wholeheartedly care regarding something more than just earning profit & growth. You require to hold a huge impact on issues and talk about those, which are important for your target audience.


It is clear & justifiably true that the social justice problems have dominated a lot in the year 2020. Importance of the corporate social control, authority, responsibility is not going into wane, so it is vital that the businesses concentrate on their own equity, diversity, and inclusion. Also, it is clear that particularly generation Z actually values sustainability and are very much environmentally conscious in most of their buying habits. Few of the athletes are today even discussing the previous taboo practices in sports such as mental health.


The conclusion is, ensure you are forming business decisions that have a positive impact on your employees, consumers, and communities. A great personality named Ann Mukherjee, Pernod Ricard CEO said in the current Adage podcast that we require replacing the concentration on ROI – Return on Investment with ROR – Return on Responsibility.


TV ratings falling but the rights deal on the rise

One of the debatable stories in relation to sports in the course of 2020 has been the fall in TV ratings across major leagues.


2020 sports TV ratings (through sports media watch)


US Open golf: -42 percent


US open tennis: -45 percent


Kentucky Derby: -43 percent


NFL regular season (through 5th week): - 13 percent


NHL Stanley cup finals: -61 percent


NBA finals: -49 percent


MLB world series: -32 percent


It comes with an upcoming wave of negotiations fixed for the year 2021, while few anticipate rights deals to constantly rise in terms of value. There has been a long-form debate as to why there has been such a continuous fall involving few claims that sportsperson taking the political stands has viewed lower ratings, however, one point is clear i.e live sports are just appointment viewing left.


Thus, whether that is investing a huge amount of money into an advertisement in the course of broadcasts or sponsoring one of the newest in-game opportunities that are bringing the fans a step closer to the sports talent on-field or using more grass-root effects such as timing your social media through pushes with relevant, targeted content about live games or being engaged with the sports events having great value in reference to the equation of how to approach your customers.


One crucial note here is that if you do not have the gate receipts, then all the teams would scramble on for another form of revenue solution, thus now is the correct time for pitching fresh and new sponsorship ideas.


Lastly, if the traditional sports are very costly & crowded, the sports and esports gambling spaces constantly continue to attract traction & sophistication by catering to increasingly valuable alternatives.


Shopping in the micro-moments

A major barrier to online buying actually no longer exists. It is one of the trends that is significantly advanced by the COVID pandemic and consumers will be purchasing anything on their mobiles at any time. Through the new micro-moment trend, shoppers make higher transactions with their phones, particularly while traveling, watching TV, working, etc.

It is great news for the sport marketing agencies as an increasing number of fans today are browsing through their mobiles when watching any game. Thus, a smartly timed mail blast is a good chance to put out conversion-linked messaging – only be sure that you are authentically & constructively hooking your interactions around the news and events relevant to your target audience.

There is low brand loyalty

Today more and more customers are eroding their brand loyalty. As per Forbes, about 75 percent of the consumers have tried distinct sites, stores pr brands in the course of the pandemic & about 60% of them are anticipated to take up new stores and brands into their after pandemic routines.

You must be continuously nurturing your end target audience & maintaining a good community with them – not only through sales messages but also via content that includes value to them while also complementing your end goals.

Throughout the board, brands are aiming to go direct to the target consumer, owing to the unreliability of the brick & mortar shopping. Thus, if you have not taken up the eCommerce tactic in the year 2020, it must be on your first number on your priority list in the year 2021. It is because on knowing it you cannot only set up a podium and anticipate people to begin purchasing from your site without any integrated plan for launching & promoting this brand new service.


Authenticity & transparency

They are certainly not the recent buzzwords for sports marketing. However, the pandemic has for sure taught all of us that imperfections at times are not just acceptable but even welcomed. It is all because of the proliferation of the incessant calls and video calls with the clients and co-workers and entertainers and event artists – all performing their respective work from home. From this, it is clear that consumers more than anything care about transparency over perfection.


AI technology

AI or artificial intelligence was once was just an idea presented in sci-fi films, showcasing the technological involvement we dreamed of in regard to the future. However now, it is an actuality and driving force behind all we do. Today AI is not only an important aspect of sports marketing, it is the centerpiece of a marketing decision in every kind of industry. It involves newer pieces like the AI-linked chatbots, which can assist brands to communicate with their customers and build brand loyalty in the long term. Also, chatbots assist to obtain crucial data regarding potential customers, which one can integrate into their marketing strategy to enhance their overall experience.