Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sponsorship and Brand Loyalty

thoughts from a far........

Continuing with the theme from yesterday, I wanted to share my thoughts by taking a slightly different tack on the question of race sponsorship.

One of the points that NASCAR taunts to potential sponsors is brand loyalty. Based on their research fans are loyal to the sponsors of their drivers whether that is the car make, car sponsor, or driver sponsor etc. People tend to buy the products with which they have some type of connection.

Growing up my dad was an avid NASCAR fan and he drove a particular make of car. He was probably loyal in the other products that he bought as well. I cannot be sure. Being young I didn’t pay as much attention as potentially I should have.

My question here is do runners have that same type of loyalty.

Mizuno sponsors our Trysports Racing team so I have to say that the majority of my running shoes are Mizuno. Sugoi sponsors our team clothing so I wear their shirts, shorts, socks, arm arms, hats, gloves, and jackets. Most of which I have bought.

When I am looking for quick snacks, I usually have a Power Bar handy. When I am running long runs, I use the Power Gels. To be clear here, I am not sponsored by Power Bar, but I like their products and their products work well in fueling my body during my workouts.

But these brands are easy to support. They have a direct involvement in our sport so using them only makes sense.

What about sponsors that don’t have a direction connection to our sport. By direct connection I mean they don’t have a product that is utilized directly in our sport.

I can think of four examples. Run for Your Life Grand Prix series is sponsored by Lowes Home Improvement Store, Moes, PowerAde and that “Bread Company”. I sorry I cannot remember their name at the moment.

Because of Lowes’ involvement I frequently pick up stuff at their stores over Home Depot. Moes, I cannot ever remember going into one of their restaurants. PowerAde, I always pick a PowerAde over Gatorade when prepping for a long run or race. As for the “Bread Company” to my knowledge, this is a local company which is located on the south side of Charlotte. Their samples are great but I have never been in their store. It is just not convenient to drive across Charlotte.

So if I am a typical example of a runner, am I loyal to the brands that sponsor running. The short answer is sometimes. Much like fans in NASCAR if I have a direction connection or I need that particular product then I would more likely buy their products.

Here lies the problem. Until there is a definitive way to prove runners have brand loyalty and runners show much more brand loyalty, few if any sponsors would consider becoming involved in our sport. I cite myself as an example.

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