Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

A key obstacle preventing big brands from sponsoring sport in Africa is a lack of quality data, mostly on the huge fan base they could reach. And, make no mistake, it is a lucrative global business.

Industry estimates suggest sports sponsorship was worth $59bn in 2020 and is set to rise to $90bn by 2027.

To address the data gap, Nielsen Sports SA has launched its global Nielsen Fan Insights platform, which it believes will provide customers with comprehensive fan data.

Essentially, it is a digital dashboard that provides an in-depth view of sports and lifestyle fans’ interests, media behaviour, attitude to brands, product purchasing and service usage levels. This product serves more than 20 key global sports and entertainment markets at present and will now examine 14 key African markets. The research in SA and Nigeria is already done and will be followed by forays this year into Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia.

Jean Willers, MD of Nielsen Sports SA, tells the FM the African market has become increasingly attractive to advertisers.

"Brands are constantly looking for new consumers to reach, and the African sport, lifestyle and entertainment market is still unknown territory for many global brands," says Willers. "The continent is an attractive proposition due to the large numbers, populations and fan bases involved.

"However, finding a sponsorship property that reaches their specific target market has proved difficult for brands, unless they have used large continental or regional events and competitions, such as those run by football associations.

"Even then, these events only cover certain regions, and brands are left to hope that their target market is exposed to their brand, with no guarantees."

Willers believes the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technologies aimed at creating unique experiences for fans. This is an added avenue of benefit for sponsors. "With virtual events continually being developed and refined, there will be an increase of fan touchpoints and thus an increase in the complexity of the fan journey."

The participation of fans in these new hybrid experiences will eventually become dominant sponsorship metrics. "The quality of fan interactions, as well as eyeballs, will become even more important, with the objective of identifying the most valuable stages of the fan journey and enabling tangible outcomes for sponsors, specifically tied to sales."

Willers says new categories and brands entering the sponsorship market are constantly looking for ways to target audiences. Understanding a fan’s relationship with a sport or lifestyle event is crucial. But also understanding "how a fan consumes, watches, interacts and engages with a certain event, team or individual gives the brand the added insights required to ensure success".

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