Attain brand visibility through sponsorship

Sponsorships offer great means of broadening your companys competitive edge by improving its image, prestige and credibility in the eyes of your target market. Recognising this potential, we explore the opportunity of using sponsorship in retail.
All about being visible

Sponsoring an event or any activity gives the platform to connect your brand with your target customers. Sponsorship enhances brand visibility. Therefore, new brands which are struggling hard to attain visibility amongst its target consumers can use this strategy. Though sponsoring any event to leverage the brand name is not a prominent practice, except with a few retail brands like Pantaloon, Wills Lifestyle etc. But there lies an immense potential in sponsorship and retailers can utilise this to their benefit. 

Benefits it brings
Sponsorship helps in differentiating a company from its competitors, helping them to develop a better relation with customers. Sponsorship can boost up both the short term and long term sales of a company and helps to access a wide range of customers. It is beneficial for companies to sponsor international trade and events too, as customers can experience firsthand the product of a company at the event. For example, food and beverage companies often use sponsorship to encourage samplings and sales. Event attendees are usually eager to test something new and may buy on the spur of the moment. Generally, sponsors are expected to pay a percentage of sales as well as the sponsorship fee.  

Know-how of sponsoring 
It is important to select the events matching appropriately with your product or services. Likewise, a company should not select any event to sponsor which might be contrary to company policy. If you are launching any product and want to show it to the world, sponsoring an event is the perfect platform. In addition, the organisers should also provide you with details, like the target audience that are expected, media coverage plans, and what obligations you have as a sponsor. Care needs to be taken to find out the kind of support the organisers will provide and exactly what your sponsorship money is buying. 

Agency stands in between
In India, there are sponsorship agencies who work as a catalyst for both the sponsors and for the event organisers. These agencies develop a creative program to meet their client’s marketing objectives. Payment of services is either on a project basis or on an allowance basis and often the agency may request a percentage of the income generated through the sponsored event. To work successfully with an agency, one needs to give them specific guidelines defining your exact objectives, the desired outcome and your budget. Before working with an agency, a check needs to be made of their track record. Deepak Singhal, co-owner of Entertainment Factory, (an event management company) shares, “When a brand comes to our place first of all, we ask them about their company profile and what they do. Based on this we plan out how the company can use sponsorship activities for branding. Also, a lot depends on the target group of audience that would be present in that particular event. Depending on these criteria a retail brand chooses an event. Specifically in retail also, sponsorship activities have tremendous potential”.

Types of sponsorship 
The benefits which sponsorship can offer to its users are innumerable. But choosing the right kind of sponsorship is a technique one should learn. The different types of sponsorship categories are, event sponsorship, title sponsorship, activity sponsorship, media sponsorship, facility sponsorship, hosting an event. Event sponsorships are of two types, B2B events and B2C events. B2B events are relationship driven, where the goal of the marketing is to convert prospects into customers. B2C events are product driven, where emotion and desire play a vital role in making decisions. Harish Bijoor, Brand Expert and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults, shares, “The most popular sponsorship is that of the B2C piece of advertising that stares back at our faces. This occupies the bulk of all marketing sponsorship”.  

Choosing sponsorship
Sponsorship has to be decided depending on the leverage you want to receive from sponsoring a program and on the basis of the target audience. With a title sponsorship, a brand gets maximum advantages than from other forms of sponsorship programs. Because as a title sponsorship, the brand gets involved from the very beginning of the event’s marketing campaign. 

The budget of sponsoring an event depends on the scale and timing of sponsorship and also on the type of events or activities selected. If it is a fashion event and the organiser is an established one, naturally the budget will go upscale. Generally, seminars or conferences need fewer funds to sponsor. As per Bijoor, “Anything upward of Rs. 10 lakh is fine. Sponsorship amounts can even hover around Rs 120 crore”.  

Prospect in retail
In Indian retail, only a few brands are known for their event sponsorship activities. In this respect, Atul Takle, Head, Corporate Communication, Pantaloon Retail informs, “The only sponsorship we have done in recent times has been for cricket, where we had the Future Cup. The Future Cup sponsorship was at a time when the Future Group was still in its early stages, and we needed greater visibility around our brand. The other recent instance was during the Great Indian Shopping festival which was across all the formats, and was meant to give people clarity on the fact that all the formats really were a part of Future Group”. The prospect of sponsorship in retail is echoed in the comments of Bijoor as he opines, “Retail brands must look for sponsorships that are synergistic to their own intent and business philosophy. A coffee cafe chain must not look for sponsorship from a machinery manufacturer, just as a fiber optic player in retail must not look for sponsorship from a grocery chain”.  

End note
Sponsoring activities can be to a person, organisation, product, event or activities either by giving money, encouragement or other help. The objective here is to get a benefit for your brand from that investment. Sponsorship results can be wondrous, and it is something that retail brands can opt for. 


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