How The Emergence of New Sporting Powers Led by China Impacts Sponsorship

How The Emergence of New Sporting Powers, Led by China, Impacts Sponsorship

July 12th, 2017 Posted by

Each year, as observed by their extensive industry reach and knowledge, Nielsen Sports release a paper titled Commercial Trends in Sport.

As a sponsorship professional, I immediately read these and think to myself “How does this impact Sponsorship?”

So, I decided to analyse the Commercial Trends in Sport paper and add commentary around how each trend impacts the sponsorship industry and, more importantly, how it can impact you as a sponsorship professional.

My analysis of each trend, and how it impacts sponsorship, will be partnered each fortnight with a Nielsen Sports staff member joining us on the Inside Sponsorship podcast to talk in more depth.

The first trend is ‘The Emergence of New Sporting Powers, Led by China’.

Where are These New Markets?

The Nielsen Sports paper outlines that the next three Olympic Games are to be hosted in Asia with other markets such as Russia and Qatar winning hosting rights to the next two FIFA World Cups.

This will undeniably result in fresh investment into these regions for sports and therefore potentially unlock new audiences, participants and access to huge groups of previously non-engaged people.

Not to be out-done, China is obviously the superpower that has been awoken with a reported US$813 billion to be invested by the government, into sports, in the next eight short years!

What Does This Mean For Sponsorship?

New markets naturally present new opportunities. Some sports have been quick to jump on partnerships, particularly in China, whilst others (such as the new Chinese Basketball League) are opting to up-skill and commercially own their own patch.

All this means opportunity including:

  • for brands to connect with newly engaged, impressionable and perhaps undervalued properties and audiences;
  • for agencies to establish market presence, expertise and grab market share as the pie is sliced; and
  • for sponsorship professionals to impart their considerable knowledge & expertise and expand professionally by taking leadership roles within these markets.

Is China of Extra Importance?

China certainly provides the most exciting opportunities for sponsorship. The population alone, and the results of studies as to their engagement in sport, highlights the opportunities that exist.

China’s developed population as well as:

  • a commercial appetite and ability to invest;
  • proven adoption to utilise and lead technological development; and
  • freeing up, to some extent, the class structure with regards to access to sport;

means that China is about to explode and, with some guidance from the developed sponsorship world, has the potential to be game-changing in who, what and how brands, and therefore the rest of the industry, respond to sponsorship opportunities in these new markets.

Four Things You Should Be Aware Of

All this talk and investigation essentially presents four opportunities that every sponsorship professional should be aware of:

1. Investment

Investment opportunities for brands, rights holders and business owners within the sponsorship space must be a consideration. The investment must be authentic and part of a long-term strategic goal.

Investment may not only come from the outside though; internal investment from within China also presents just as many opportunities and rewards for those who authentically approach it.

2. Knowledge Transfer

As we see with the new Chinese Basketball League, led by Yao Ming, these new markets have a steep learning curve but the investment available means the resources are there to learn and succeed.

Therefore, those seasoned and knowledgeable sponsorship professionals, or organisations, have a rare opportunity to play a leadership role and transfer knowledge to these emerging markets in a way that will influence the industry going forward.

3. Collaboration

It is only natural that these emerging markets are going to want to reach out to the already established markets to bring content and access audiences and further growth opportunities. This presents great collaboration opportunities for all stakeholders.

4. Employment

As per above, an expanding new market will always call for experienced professionals to lead the way including the adoption of proven existing methods. Sponsorship professionals with adaptable skills should see opportunities to enter as a leader who can help to take advantage of these evolving spaces.

It’s just plain exciting!

For me, at the end of the day, it is just plain exciting to see such dominant and fast-growing new markets. It will allow for collaborative growth across all stakeholder groups but, in my opinion, the framework and landscape is only just forming and those who are authentic, strategic and calculated in their approach (just like in the sponsorship world in any market) will be the big winners.


DOWNLOAD – Commercial Trends in Sport by Nielsen Sports

Mark Thompson - SponServe

Mark Thompson // Managing Director

Mark specialises in sponsorship and diversified income strategies and has used this expertise across the Community, Semi-Professional and Professional Sports sectors. He combines hands-on experience in managing the expectations and obligations of sponsors with marketing and stakeholder engagement to deliver outstanding results.

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