HOWZAT!! For Sponsorship
With Cornhill Insurance bringing an end to their 23 year old relationship with cricket, and Natwest switching their sponsorship from county to international cricket, an independent* study by Performance Research shows cricket fans** recall and value sponsors, but asks whether sponsors are doing enough?
So can fans remember the names of the companies involved with cricket sponsorship? The answer appears to be yes, during spontaneous awareness questioning over sixty different companies were mentioned, and just two percent (2%) of fans were unable to mention any sponsors. The most frequently mentioned sponsor was Cornhill Insurance mentioned by roughly three-fourths (71%) of fans, followed by Natwest (50%), and Benson & Hedges (30%). The England team sponsor Vodafone was mentioned by 22% of fans.
What does this all mean? How important is spontaneous awareness for sponsors? Some observers believe spontaneous awareness is an unnecessary objective, a luxury, which may only benefit commodity products such as soft drinks or confectionary. The ability to spontaneously recall sponsors at the point of purchase can drive sales, but what can sponsors like Cornhill Insurance and Natwest take from this?
Quite simply the affiliation with a property in terms of credibility, and image enhancements can only be effective if the target market is aware of the sponsorship. Although, in this instance aided sponsor awareness may be sufficient to provoke further investigation into the relative merits of each company, and the services they offer.
So how did these companies fare when the fans were asked to identify cricket sponsors from a list? Almost all of the fans identified Natwest (98%) and Cornhill Insurance (94%), while Foster?s (94%), who sponsor the Oval; and Vodafone (87%), a relative newcomer to cricket sponsorship also did well.
After establishing that cricket fans can remember sponsors, the study then asked fans to describe how they felt about the companies as a result of their association with cricket. Roughly one-half of the fans chose the statement “Sponsorship makes a valuable contribution to cricket and makes me feel better about sponsors.” So for a sponsor associated with test match cricket, positive inferences concerning the credibility of the company are certainly possible.
How can cricket sponsorship be developed further? With awareness levels reaching almost saturation point sponsors may look beyond awareness, and look to leverage their sponsorships. The next step is to build on the positive impressions reported toward sponsors and develop meaningful relationships with fans, enabling them to see how a sponsorship can benefit them, both as cricket fans, and as consumers using that brand.
Finally, when questioned about loyalty to sponsors products, roughly one-fourth (25%) of the cricket fans reported they would “Almost always” or “Frequently” preferentially choose a sponsors product because of their involvement with cricket. Good news, but still comparatively low when compared to the loyalty levels reported toward sponsors of other sports in the U.K.
*This independent study is intended to provide a “snap shot” of cricket sponsorship. Typically proprietary research conducted by Performance Research is designed to look beyond “snapshot” data by measuring the incremental impact of a sponsorship program on the specific objectives of the sponsor.
**The respondents were read four statements and were asked to choose one which best described how they support cricket. Roughly one-half (46%) of the respondents described themselves as “Avid cricket fans” by choosing the statement; “I make a point to frequently watch and attend cricket matches.”
Staff from Performance Research collected the names and phone numbers of cricket fans attending the 5th Test between England and the West Indies at the Foster?s Oval. In the following two weeks 201 cricket fans were re-contacted by telephone and asked to complete a short questionnaire. The margin of error for this sample is no more than +7%.
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