April 10, 2023
Sports is one of the few things that can unite people across demographics. Fans’ devotion to their favorite teams and preferred athletes can border on obsessiveness, and those athletes can have a profound influence on an audience’s buying decisions. Fans will purchase jerseys, posters, and other items to show their undying support for their teams.
This also extends to products outside of the realm of sports, as professional athletes have been enlisted to help sell a wide range of products, from cars and food to clothing and services. Even before television was widely available, Babe Ruth put his star power behind Wheaties cereal. The aura of a strong, fast, and successful athlete endorsing a product is especially attractive to an advertiser’s target audience.
So what is it about sports and athletes that motivates audiences to buy? And how can market research help advertisers and marketers learn more about which messages resonate with sports fans?
In this age of social media influencers, many of whom have more followers than professional athletes, there is still a foundation of credibility that athletes enjoy within their communities that influencers can’t touch. In addition to the local connections that many pro athletes cultivate as part of their teams’ community service efforts, sports stars have the added advantage of having taken their fans along for the ride of their storied careers.
The sports audience knows exactly how much work their favorite athletes have put into winning their championships and winning their MVP awards. This builds the ever-important trust with the target audience that advertisers and marketers need to convert adulation into sales.
The key is knowing what messaging will connect with which part of this audience. The female sports audience might be influenced by a certain athlete’s endorsement of a product because of his or her efforts to help raise the profile of women’s sports. This is where market research becomes an important part of an advertising strategy. Hiring an experienced data collection firm like Eyes4Research can help brands gather the data it needs to get the messaging right, right out of the gate.
Just about every child everywhere dreams of running faster, jumping higher, and being a world champion at some point. It’s no surprise that children often have their own favorite teams and athletes, and can be as influenced by the endorsements of professional athletes as their parents. According to globalissues.org, children in the U.S. see as many as 25,000 commercials a year.
And while many parents may not be thrilled about some of the products that are featured in the commercials with their kids’ favorite athletes, the children are likely to think that drinking that sugary beverage or eating that hamburger meal will help them be as big and strong as their sports hero.
As mentioned above, the impact of pro athletes on the sports audience is highly effective. But it can be conditional, as well. Sports fans want to see the products that athletes endorse be ones that are actually associated with them and their respective sports. There would be little interest in watching Serena Williams selling baseball equipment or David Beckham lacing up basketball sneakers. The proper athlete-product association is more likely to result in the potential customer considering the product. An arbitrary matchup leaves the consumers less likely to believe in the authenticity of the endorsement.
Read more about consumer attitudes toward sports on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from sports enthusiasts. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our sports enthusiast panel and our other specialty panels here.