Marketing Sport And Leisure In The New Normal
When the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in 2020, new rules, restrictions, and safety measures were implemented to curb the spread of the virus. The sports, fitness, and physical activity industries were particularly hard hit, with many professional sports teams and leagues cancelling fixtures for months on end. Sports is inherently a social activity, and this is where marketers have learnt to generate revenue. In the wake of the new normal, the industry has had to shift the way they market and sell sports, with the impacts above considered.
It’s estimated that around 22% of the gyms that closed down worldwide never opened up again. As such, the way people engage in fitness and physical exercise has changed drastically, and many people prefer to workout at home instead of going to a gym. The disruption that the pandemic had on professional athletes and sports is obvious, but what is less obvious is the impact it had on businesses whose job it is to market and sell sports to the average consumer. How does one sell a product that was specifically restricted and in some cases, deemed potentially dangerous for your health?
New Methods of Selling Sports and Leisure
Companies in the sports marketing industry have had to re-evaluate the way sports are viewed and privately enjoyed in order to recoup any losses from the past few years. Brands are still currently in their adaptation period, and are figuring out new products and marketing campaigns to operate profitably in the new world.
Pre-pandemic marketing of sports contrasts heavily with the way sports have been marketed in 2020 and beyond. Before the pandemic hit, sports marketing was always focused on the wild and wacky, as evidenced by some of the most controversial and popular sports ads of the past decade. In contrast, Forbes found that marketing in the new normal seems to be more focused on bringing messages of hope and inspiration to people around the globe. Sports and physical health have been marketed as important ways to stay healthy and keep fit.
A large number of sports companies have had to shift their focus to create equipment that allowed people to exercise at home. The term ‘pivoting’ became hugely popular, and creative solutions were sought to keep fitness businesses afloat. A more outlandish example of these products is the at-home ice rink. One of the reasons why synthetics ice rinks became so popular is because they’re easy to install and fun to use. Synthetic ice is also easy to clean, which really won over families in no time.
The Bottom Line
Even though we may be at the end of what was a difficult two years, the pandemic has had long-lasting, and in some cases, permanent effects on different sectors and industries. The sports marketing industry is just one example of how quickly companies need to adapt to changing circumstances in order to not be left behind.
Going forward, marketers need to encourage people to exercise on their terms, in ways that they feel safe doing, and to support sporting events in other ways, such as watching live streams. If anything, marketers now have the opportunity to use their creative skills in new and exciting ways.