The Irish sponsorship market is expected to grow by around 7% to around €173m according to the latest annual Onside Sponsorship Industry Survey.
The increase will come from new sponsorship opportunities such as the Women’s Rugby World Cup which takes place in Ireland later this year and ‘sponsor switching’ on some of Ireland’s larger sponsorship assets, according to Onside.
According to John Trainor, founder and CEO of Onside: “sponsorship spend will continue its annual growth trend in 2017, with more than half of sponsors planning to up their investment in sponsorship this year, and 3 in 4 rights holders targeting an increase in year on year sponsorship revenues”.
Ahead of expectations, he points out that 2016 saw the Irish sponsorship market grow by around 9% to an estimated €163m, as an unprecedented 3 in 4 sponsors increased investment in sponsorship last year.
The Onside annual review estimates that sponsorship is now attracting 18% of total marketing investment, up 4% in the past 2 years alone.
Trainor notes that banking, supermarkets/retail and telecommunication sectors have replaced airlines as the ones to watch in terms of hot sectors for increased sponsorship spend in 2017, while sponsorship platforms that topped the list in terms of expected growth potential were Rugby, GAA, and venue naming rights. Investment in cause and education / schools based sponsorship is also expected to gain heightened attention in 201, he says.
Vodafone’s partnership with the IRFU was identified by the research with industry professionals as the best sponsorship of 2016, while sponsors recognized the IRFU, Live Nation and the GAA as the top rights holder of the year.
For the first time, Conor McGregor was identified by the industry as being the No.1 most marketable personality for brands in 2017, with other stars rising in research including Robbie Henshaw, Annalise Murphy and Joe Schmidt.
The top 3 areas of innovative marketing that Irish sponsorship practitioners think will provide the best opportunities for brands to activate their sponsorship(s) in the future are influencer marketing, live streaming and big data, while YouTube emerged as a Top 3 social media channel for 2017, which Trainor believes indicates “Irish sponsors are increasingly looking to activate through dynamic media such as live-streaming and video content. Finding the right ‘digital influencer stars’ for your brand and better ways to use data and unlock real insights to target and engage fans is also set to evolve to new levels in 2017”.
In terms of the sponsorship potential afforded by the landmark Women’s Rugby World Cup event in 2017, 6 in 10 Irish sponsors see the global event as an opportunity to engage with their consumers, compared with 45% that saw the 2016 Olympics as a business opportunity for them last summer.
“A potential hurdle to the anticipated growth planned for 2017 is clearly the emerging implications of Brexit, with 36% of those surveyed seeing Britain’s exit from the E.U. as likely to have a negative impact on growth in the Irish Sponsorship market. That could become a short-term drag on investment in sponsorship, but longer term a real positive game changer for the industry,” adds Trainor.