The sports industry and its athletes have expanded their reach to the point of becoming influencers of fashion, lifestyle, fitness, and much more. Athletes can be a great resource to a brand and campaign in their ability to reach and connect with their fans and followers in a way that is hard to rival. In fact, the sports industry and market has been continuously growing, especially in this past decade, and is expected to grow by an additional 6%, reaching nearly $1,809.8 billion by 2022. The industry has grown in a way that has highlighted specific athletes and even enabled them to become household names as fashion and lifestyle icons. Much of this has been achieved through social media where athletes showcase more aspects of their lives and directly connect with their fans. Instagram drove more than $430M in Maximum Ad Value (MAV) during the first 9 months of 2019 with a 68% total value driven by sport properties and influencers. Sports fans are a passionate consumer group who follow their favorite teams and athletes on various platforms where they see all the brands their favorite athletes associate with on and off the field. This is particularly true for youth because 32% of 13-36-year-olds, and 39% of 13-36-year-old males, follow athletes on social networks.
When we think of an athlete, naturally we think of their sport. They’re known for competing, for their accomplishments and their success in their field. They get sponsors like Nike and Gatorade because that’s the easy connection to make. But athletes do in fact have lives outside of sports. When they’re not training or competing, they have hours to dedicate to other passions and hobbies. We often don’t see that side of athletes, and might not even know of their interests off the field, but their hobbies can provide a unique sponsorship opportunity for the brands that aren’t Nike.