Experiential Sports Marketing : The Key to winning over customer

While traditionally, the exercise of marketing would mostly be looked at as a set of ATL, BTL, and TTL promotional campaigns, in recent years, it is experiencing a sea-change. Newer channels and ways of promoting brands are being explored, and one of the most influential ones in this regard is experiential marketing. As reported by Creative Guerrilla Marketing back in 2014, 78% of millennials, who were expected to cumulatively have a spending capacity of over $100 billion, showed greater inclination to buy a brand that they could have a face-to-face interaction with. It is this specific facet, of generating live experiences, that experiential marketing (also called as engagement marketing) tries to achieve, and sports events often present excellent avenues for the same.


Experiential Sports Marketing events are highly immersive for the intended target person and hence, the recipient will show naturally a much greater readiness to be involved in them. Firstly, because the target person engages with a brand during a sporting event he or she has personally chosen to attend, the chance of engagement is going to be a lot higher – there is sort of a no-escape situation for the target, and often times even some slightly unwilling members of the audience, out of herd mentality, agree to participate in the experience. This may seem a bit intrusive, but at the end of the day, the end goal of marketing is to generate an incremental customer-base, and if among the unwilling members, the brand manages to delight even a small percentage of them, the goal is still achieved. Moreover, because the event is pertaining to a sport the target audience is interested in (either as a participant or as a spectator), an individual from the audience would be a lot more intrinsically incentivized to go through the experience, in the possible hope of discovering a product that could be beneficial to use in future.


The business value of such experiences is phenomenal. As per Forrester Research, brands that manage to deliver better consumer experiences on average tend to have a 12% higher revenue CAGR. A PWC Report throws a lot more information on this aspect. As per the report, customer experience is an important factor driving purchasing decisions for 73% people, while 65% said that positive brand experience is more influential than great advertising. Another important aspect to look for during such experiential marketing events is customer feedback. Because brand representatives are going to be able to watch their target segments interact with the product in close quarters, and can seek feedback about their product experiences, they can obtain valuable information about brand perception and how the intended audience is bound to receive the product. Thus, future product development and diversification strategies can be devised in an informed manner, in keeping with the expectations and preferences of the target segments.


As per a 2017 estimate by Sportz Village XP, the amateur sports market in the top 8 Indian cities amounts to Rs. 1200 crore. Schools and colleges are increasingly supporting students’ participation in sports, and are developing programs to help students get better at the sport of their choice. Even among adults, with a growing consciousness regarding fitness, we are witnessing a growing trend of taking up sports, at least for recreational purposes. What this indicates is that the potential of experiential sports marketing is only going to grow in the coming future, and that, most brands, in particular, those belonging to categories such as sporting wear and equipment, performance food and drink, nutrition and fitness cannot afford to overlook it. Thus, experiential sports marketing provides an opportunity for brands to develop a strong personal and emotional connection with target customers, and while today it remains a niche marketing channel, it is sure to emerge as one of the strongest ones in the future. The future of marketing is going to be all about generating immersive customer engagements, and as such, it would not be a surprise if experiential sports marketing begins to form an important part of companies’ marketing mix.