Key trends for sponsors this year include a focus on engagement, rather than exposure and increased emphasis on cause marketing. Sponsors who put purpose at the heart of their partnership strategy, whether through community initiatives or via customer loyalty schemes, can move beyond awareness to address other objectives, such as affinity or churn.

A key component of 02’s celebrated sponsorship strategy was to drive loyalty while adding genuine benefit for music and sports fans via its Priority Moments programme. Similarly Heineken is prioritising brand loyalty with emotional association rather than exposure for its sponsorship of this year’s Rugby World Cup. This strategy helps brands to differentiate at the point of sale.

Sponsors who demonstrate purpose via cause sponsorship can create real brand affinity. Electric Ireland’s sponsorship portfolio includes not only properties such as the GAA Minor Championships and Electric Picnic but also causes including the Darkness into Light Walk. This sponsorship not only engages with an estimated 80,000 participants, it mobilises staff and demonstrates authentic brand purpose.

Implication

Sponsors who demonstrate ‘purpose’ by placing the values, priorities and passions of customers and fans first stand to gain from their sponsorship investments. Pursuing such an approach requires greater strategic thought, commitment and expertise compared to simply buying sponsorship benefits. Leveraging cause sponsorship comes with risk; consumers are highly critical of associations they feel are insincere or hypocritical. But, with risk comes reward and sponsorships with purpose stand to reap rewards in 2015.

Livewire has developed proprietary tools such as the Livewire Sponsorship Index (LSI) and the Livewire Valuation Model (LVM) to help guide sponsors through this process. Find out more by visiting here.