Success Factors in Global Sports Markets

Major sporting events help sponsors achieve global brand exposure.
Major sporting events help sponsors achieve global brand exposure. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Global sports markets are attractive to organizations that market sports products and those associated with sports through sponsorship or advertising. Among the key success factors are a global brand, exposure on televised sporting events and involvement with high-profile sports events, teams or individuals. Global sports brands also succeed by moving from specialized sports sectors to mainstream consumer leisure markets.


The global sports market continues to grow, according to a report by consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers that forecasts an increase in global sports spending from $114 billion in 2009 to $133 billion by 2013. This provides strong growth opportunities for manufacturers of sports clothing and shoes, and suppliers of related products, such as sports drinks and dietary supplements.

Global Brands

Manufacturers build their marketing communications programs around strong brands with global recognition. In its 2010 ranking of the world's top sports brands, “Forbes” magazine placed golfer Tiger Woods, manufacturer Nike, soccer team Manchester United and the Super Bowl championship as the most valuable names in their respective categories.


Successful companies associate their own brands with leading personalities and teams through sponsorship. The PricewaterhouseCoopers report identified sponsorship as the fastest-growing sector of global sports spending, with a forecast increase from $29.4 billion in 2009 to $35.2 billion in 2013. There is strong competition to sponsor teams or official products at major sporting events, such as the Olympic Games or World Cup soccer. Equipment and clothing manufacturers bid to provide the official uniform and kit for national teams, knowing that global television coverage will give their brand massive exposure.


Worldwide television coverage is key to sports marketing success. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, technology has contributed to the globalization of both the industry and specific sports. German sponsorship consultancy Sport + Markt points out that international sport, with its global distribution and television coverage, is an excellent platform for communicating brand identity.


Although television coverage provides brand exposure, it does not guarantee commercial success for sponsors. According to Sport + Markt, companies should not treat sports sponsorship just as a communication tool but should treat it as a platform for generating new sales to business and consumer markets.


The power of global sports brands makes them equally attractive to sports participants and consumers who wear sports-branded items as leisure wear. A study by market research firm NPD Group reported that “sports brands have become an important social status symbol in developing countries.”

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