NATIONAL REPORT — It's hardly news that exposure via a sports team sponsorship or league association can pay dividends for a brand, as any of the 115 million viewers who watched last year's Super Bowl could probably tell you.
For convenience store retailers looking to tap into those enthusiastic sports fans, the value isn't just in the sheer number, but also in the cross demographics, according to Bill Nolan, a partner at the Business Accelerator Team, a firm that provides business development expertise to retailing and foodservice channels.
"Men and women of all age groups are involved with sports in one way or another," he said. "Whether it's your kids, teenagers or mom and dad themselves, millions are participating in [events] or are just fans."
Nolan doesn't just speak as a consultant. Having spent most of his career overseeing marketing departments for Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc. and Valparaiso, Ind.-based Family Express Corp., he's knows firsthand how these sponsorships have evolved over time and how companies can best take advantage of them.
Nowadays, brands can pursue multiple channels to find potential customers and numerous c-stores have already explored those avenues, whether it's Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based QuickChek Corp. signing on as the official sub partner of the New York Giants or Atlanta-based RaceTrac Inc. partnering with the Atlanta Braves for in-game contests.
Whatever the chosen path, Nolan points to the advantages this can offer a company.
"A state or major city sports venue [allows] a business [to] build a bond with communities through paired loyalties with the local teams," he said. "Advertising your sponsorship in the business itself will help build consumer awareness that 'we're all united by being fans of the same team.' Having this sponsorship may [also] give you the right to use their team logo, have contests to win tickets [or] wear apparel or other marketing elements provided by the team."
A c-store operator doesn't just have to limit itself to professional leagues, either. Sponsorships can get expensive, especially in high-exposure sports such as NCAA Division 1 football or the National Basketball Association. For smaller or regional operators who may not have the financial ability to buy in, Nolan tells them not to fear, there are still plenty of options open to them.
"Consider sponsoring a high school or minor league sports team. This could fit into your budget, and you may be surprised how the local community will respond," he said.