Every year companies spend millions of dollars in sponsorships, especially sports sponsorships due to the number of people all sports attract annually. Do sponsorships actually encourage fans to buy one brand over another though? Based on research from the Sports Business Research Network (SBRnet), it appears that sponsorships may not be as important as they are made out to be.
Sponsorships in Major League Baseball
Official sponsors of Major League Baseball (MLB) include Chevrolet, Esurance, Hartford, Gatorade, Pepsi, T-Mobile, and MasterCard, among others. SBRnet conducted a survey in 2015 asking fans about brands they use most often in certain categories. These categories include which brand of automobile/truck fans drive most often; which soft drink, energy drink, and sports drink they drank most often in the past twelve months; which cell phone and service provider they use; which insurance company they use for automobile insurance; and which brand of credit card they use, along with a few other categories. Brands in these categories line up with the official sponsors of the MLB, but how do they compare?
Do Pepsi and Gatorade lead the soft, energy, and sports drink segments?
When MLB fans were asked which soft drink they drank most often in the past year, the leading response was Coca-Cola with 18.4 percent of responses. With 11.7 percent of responses, Diet Coke was second. The first Pepsi brand on the list was third as plain Pepsi received 9.3 percent of responses. Mountain Dew and Diet Pepsi made the top ten, but the remaining top ten include Coca-Cola-owned Sprite, Coke Zero, Cherry Coke, and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group-owned Dr. Pepper and Diet Dr. Pepper.
In the energy drink segment, Pepsi-owned AMP Energy placed sixth with 2.8 percent of responses, while Monster Energy, to whom Coca-Cola sold its energy drink business in 2015, placed second with 30.4 percent of responses.
However, in the sports drink segment Pepsi appears to perform much stronger with Pepsi-owned and official MLB sponsor Gatorade receiving the majority of responses at 55.9 percent and Coca-Cola-owned Powerade and Powerade Zero receiving only 18.9 percent of responses. Despite Pepsi’s MLB sponsorship efforts, it appears that most MLB fans’ loyalty still lies with Coca-Cola in the soft drink segment, but Pepsi and Gatorade have a strong place in the sports drink market.
Is Chevrolet the leading brand in the vehicle segment?
Chevrolet is the fourth most driven vehicle by MLB fans with 11 percent of responses according to SBRnet. Ford, Toyota, and Honda fall ahead of Chevrolet with 14.2, 13, and 11.1 percent of responses, respectively. The official sponsor of the MLB is a top competitor among MLB fans, but its sponsorship of the MLB does not appear to make it the number one choice of fans.
How do Esurance and Hartford Compare in the Insurance Segment?
Insurance providers and official MLB sponsors Esurance and Hartford fall eleventh and seventeenth on the list of insurance companies MLB fans choose for vehicle insurance. Hartford received only 2 percent of responses, and Esurance, an Allstate owned company, received only 0.9 percent of responses. State Farm, GEICO, and Allstate were the top three vehicle insurance providers of choice for MLB fans. While MLB fans may use Hartford and Esurance for non-vehicle insurance purposes, their official sponsorship of the MLB does not seem to make them the leading choices for vehicle insurance among fans.
How Does MasterCard Compare in the Credit Card Segment?
MasterCard is the second most used credit card by MLB fans with 24.4 percent of fans using the brand. Visa accounts for 55 percent of MLB fans credit card usage, indicating that MasterCard’s sponsorship of the MLB does not make them the leading credit card provider, although they do provide for almost one quarter of the market.
Does T-Mobile’s Sponsorship of MLB Put Them Ahead of Competitors?
T-Mobile is the third most used cell phone service provider by MLB fans. However, the company accounts for only 9.7 percent of the market while Verizon and AT&T account for 31.5 and 27.1 percent of the market, respectively. Therefore, T-Mobile’s sponsorship of the MLB also does not seem to affect consumers’ decisions to choose Verizon or AT&T instead of T-Mobile.
So Do Sponsorships Really Matter?
In this case, while sponsorships may make some fans more likely to buy the sponsor brand over another brand, the majority of MLB fans are not affected by who sponsors the MLB. This illustrates the statistic that 43.2 percent of MLB fans voted “sport sponsorship is not at all influential” in a separate study performed by SBRnet. Sponsorships are important, but they do not seem to be as influential as sponsoring companies may hope.
Written by Sara Griffith https://www.linkedin.com/in/saragriffith
General Editor: Macy Marin
MLB. (2016). Official Sponsors of Major League Baseball. Retrieved from
Sports Business Research Network. (2015). Baseball-MLB Sponsorship Influence Index: Total and by Market Segment Retrieved from
Sports Business Research Network. (2015). Market Research/Demographics. Retrieved from <http://www.sbrnet.com.ezproxy.samford.edu/research.aspx?subRID=961# mlbbp10>.