Historically, athletes had little direct interaction with their fans. They’d go out and give their all, but contact would be carefully moderated afterwards. Perhaps there’d be press conferences, pauses for autographs, and promos, but the athlete would remain shielded from his fans for the most part. This all changed when social media emerged. Instead of going through specific channels, the athlete could connect with his or her audience anytime, anywhere, engaging in live one-on-one interactions.
The era of direct-to-consumer had begun and it wasn’t restrained to brands and businesses. Instead, this gave rise to a whole new level of interconnectivity and branding. The incoming athlete could instantly cultivate a following and develop a brand, while the veteran enjoyed a captive audience. It was then that people realised these athletes, from the rookie through to the all-star, had solid brands and audiences that could be leveraged for marketing. Influencer marketing.
Of course, the tech has not stopped coming, and with new advances and algorithmic changes, the way athletes engage with their audiences and influencer marketing strategies have changed too. Let’s look at four emerging trends.
1. Augmented Reality is Generating Buzz
Trends come along in waves, some being larger than others. Trends that take place on a larger scale can support more brands riding them but are often oversaturated. Current trends that have risen rapidly over the past year, particularly within the world of sports, include women sports, esports, virtual reality and more. Strategy teams across the space of sports marketing have been playing on these trends in a bid to stay at the forefront of consumer’s minds. For example, the world-renowned, Spanish football club Real Madrid has gone as far as to build an esports stadium as part of the construction process for their updated stadium with an expected return of £135 million. Furthermore, companies such as Wasserman, a reputable sports marketing agency, are investing large amounts of money in designated women’s divisions in hopes of profiting off of the growing trend of women’s sports.
2. Virutal Reality is Engageing Dans on Whole New Level
VR is in its infancy, so it’s only being used by early adopters now—those who are extreme sports fans and have an affinity for tech. However, athletes can now leverage it to give fans a serious VIP experience. Imagine what it’s like to feel like you’re on the field with your athlete or being given an exclusive tour of the locker room or other behind the scenes coverage. The Nike Football Experience did just this, giving an insider look at Arda Turan’s halftime speech to the Turkish National team.
3. eSports is Cultivating a Fresh Crop of Influencers and Providing New Reach Opportunties
There were 454 million esports viewers in 2019, of which 201 million were considered enthusiasts. By the end of 2022, nearly 300 million enthusiasts are expected, for a total of 645 million viewers in all. That puts it on par with sports golf, rugby, and even baseball. eSports arenas are popping up everywhere to accommodate. Even Real Madrid plans to include an eSports arena in its new high-tech rebuild of the Bernabeu. Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka, Finnish Dota 2 player, is a great example. He’s now ranked the number-two eSports player in the world with estimated earnings of over six million. He now has over 106k followers on Twitter and is sponsored by Red Bull.
4. Data is Building Better Fan Relationships
As more teams, leagues, and athletes leverage tech, they have a wealth of data at their fingertips. This allows them to segment their audiences, so they can deliver the right message to the right group at the right time, building better relationships. Brands like Yinzcam are leveraging data to personalise experiences as well, including stats like how many games a fan has attended in their messaging. This helps develop bonds, even more, resulting in increased loyalty and engagement.
The Evolution Will Continue
Here at Vensy, content and campaign strategies are designed to be innovative, unique, and authentic. Vensy can help your brand stay on top of trends while maintaining your brand’s image. We facilitate the entire campaign process to ensure that the content pushed out is of the highest quality. If you’re ready to stand out amongst the pack and push your brand to the forefront of trends, contact Vensy at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and get started.
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