Dec 02, 2020 at 12:00 AM
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Eight Sponsorship Categories for Winter 2020/21

Who's looking forward to turning the page on a new year?! The sponsorship industry was ripping with growth and innovation until the pandemic sucker punched us on March 15th, 2020. Luckily, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel with a vaccine on the way this Winter/Spring and events likely to ramp back up shortly thereafter. Still, some sponsors and categories are finding ways to not only maintain, but grow their sponsorship portfolios in the (hopefully) waning days of the pandemic. Here's a few sponsorship categories worth exploring this winter... 

  • Wine and Spirits - While beer tends to lag in the winter months, wine and spirits naturally takes off typically between November and January and beyond that expect marketing spend to pick-up with bars, restaurants, sporting events and festivals restarting. Aside from the behemoths like Constellation and Brown-Forman, regional brands like Sugarlands across the southeast, Mighty Swell in the south and San Antonio Winery out west have all taken active sponsorship positions in their respective key markets. According to Nielsen's, total alcohol sales outside of bars and restaurants have surged roughly 24% during the pandemic.
  • Mortgage Lenders - With the 30-year fixed mortgage rate, the most popular home loan product, at record lows and new home sales rising a 14-year high expect companies like Quicken Loans/Rocket Mortgage and Guaranteed Rate to continue shopping for new sports and entertainment sponsorships.
  • Sports Betting - Sports betting continues to be a rapidly growing category in the face of the pandemic as states look for more income, sports comes back and fans are bored at home. Newcomers like Barstool Sports, PointsBet and BetMGM were among the most active in recent months, while industry stalwarts FanDuel and DraftKings are continuing to rapidly expand their footprint.
  • Secure Identification - Expect companies like CLEAR and Identogo to play a key critical role in safely helping events and venues determine who's sick and who's not, who has been vaccinated and if necessary help contact trace as events start to ramp back up. 
  • Gyms - While some say the traditional idea of going to a gym like Planet Fitness is finished, we think there may be a great opportunity for sponsorship sellers next spring as people look to work of pandemic pounds ahead of summer. Few businesses have cycled out recurring customers like gyms did during the pandemic. Rebuilding those valuable customer relationships will require a massive marketing spend and sponsorship is positioned well to assist in that goal. 
  • Cannabis - Cannabis companies are expanding and using sports and entertainment sponsorships to help remove the stigma of cannabis and break into the mainstream. WeedmapsNanocraft, Kadenwood and cbdMD are among those recently signing new sponsorships to help with this. In a highly fragmented land grab industry, look for newcomers to take a similar strategy. 
  • At-Home Health - The telehealth category as been perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the pandemic with sponsors like Roman, Zenni and others have snapping up high-profile sponsorships to build significant consumer health brands. With more people working freelance and from-home, this will be a long-term trend with plenty of other at-home brands launching. Expect sponsorships to be part of the launch toolkit.
  • Travel - This is a broad one, but expect travel brands to very aggressively look to capitalize on pent-up demand this Spring with additional marketing spends. From luggage to hotels and vacation rentals, there are numerous ways that sponsorship sellers can capitalize on an upswing in travel.