How to do market research for sports sponsorship deals

Good research can land those awesome sponsorship deals.
Good research can land those awesome sponsorship deals.


So, you’ve landed a gig with a sports franshise or another company, and now you’re looking to find a company to work a sponsorship deal.  As an example, let’s say the Ohio Bobcats are looking to have Applebees sponsor an event, team, or half-time show. In order to make the deal, you will need to research both the college athletics market (perhaps even down to specific sports) as well as the market for Applebees (casual dining).  If the research shows similarities between the target consumers, then you might be well on your way to finding the perfect match for a sponsorship deal.

1.  Find information about the larger industry and market

The first thing you will want to do is to get the lay of the land of both the sports market and the specific product market.  In our case, we would want to understand the overall sports market in the broadest sense, and then perhaps narrow down to the collegiate sports market.  We might even be able to look at a specific sport.  Likewise, we will want to look at the overall casual dining market while also perhaps finding company information and analysis of Applebees.  The resources below will help us in this manner.


  • Use IbisWorld to search for “sports franchises” to get a general overview of the industry in the U.S.
  • IbisWorld is also a great resource to get a broad understanding of other large industries, such as the casual dining industry in the U.S.

First Research

  • First Research provides quick and easy to understand industry analyses. Search for “professional sports” to find a very useful report.
  • Similarly, First Research will have reports that cover the casual dining or restaurant industry in the U.S.

Plunkett Research Online

  • Plunkett Research Online has an extensive area for Market Trends and Statistics in the Sports Industry research center.
  • Plunkeet may also have very broad coverage of your other targer market, such as restauruants and dining.



  • Statista is a great place to look for a variety of sports statistics, covering revenues, attendance, participation, expenses, and more.
  • Statista may also have statistics on the restaurant market, as well as information about Applebees or competitors.


2.  Gather a deeper understanding about the consumer

After you get a good idea about the larger industry, you’ll want to research the consumers in your market.  Market research reports, data, and statistics found in the resources below are an excellent place to start.

Mintel Oxygen

  • Mintel Oxygen has some excellent market research reports that cover the sports industry, such as “Marketing to Sports Fans.”
  • Mintel also has excellent reports for consumer markets, so you can find anything from who buys candles, dines at casual restaurants, or is buying the next Playstation or Xbox.


  • Passport has some useful information in a report called “Sporting and Recreational Services in the U.S.”  You can find this report by searching for the title in the Passport search box.
  • Passport contains very in-depth reports on consumer markets.

Simmons Oneview

  • Simmons Oneview contains demographic information about users of specific consumer products (and also sports attendance/viewing habits) including: what they use, income and educational level, what types of media they use, and more.


  • WARC (World Advertising Research Center) is a great place to look for case studies about advertising and marketing campaigns.
  • Simply search for a product, your company, or similar company to find case studies about what worked and what did not.
  • Also browse to the Topics section of WARC to find reports on various consumer and industry segments.
  • You might be able to adapt one of the successful case studies for your own company’s needs.


3.  Analyze your local market

After you research the consumer market for your sport, team, company, or product, you will want to adapt that data down to the local level.  The resources below can help you find information about your local market to combine with national consumer market trends.

American Factfinder

  • American Factifinder is a great resource for general demographic information including economic and social characteristics of particular city, state, or county.

Census QuickFacts

  • Census QuickFacts provides easy access to some of the most-used economic and social statistics.
  • The QuickFacts are an easier way to get to census information than American Factfinder.
  • You will want to use census data to compare how your local market demographics align with the more general national demograhics of a consumer market (like what you find in MediaMark, Mintel, and Passport,above).

LexisNexis Academic

  • LexisNexis Academic can be used to find newspaper articles from local papers about local sports team, issues in the economy, as well as articles about specific companies in the region.


  • SimplyAnalytics provides demographic, business, or marketing data down to the local level, allowing users to create customized maps and reports with an almost unlimited number of variables.
  • This video demonstrates how to  research for a sports interest and participation in SimplyAnalytics.
  • As an example, you could use SimplyAnalytics to find data by zip code on the percentage of people in Columbus, Ohio, who are very interested in watching NFL games, while also showing the location of Applebees restaurants in the area.


  • SRDS is a great resource to analyze the local media in a market.
  • This can be a great resource to gathering information about where to advertise in a particular market.

Related Topics: sports administration, sports business, sports marketing, sports sponsorship, Business Topic Guides