Money, status and power…bars
The development of the sports nutrition sector in terms of science, product offerings and marketing mirrors that of cricket, a sport continually looking to improve, modernise and reach new audiences.
That’s why they make excellent bedfellows so it’s a little surprising that more partnerships aren’t in place. The sports nutrition space is increasingly cluttered and competitive so they’re in need of initiatives and vehicles to differentiate. At the same time, their marketing budgets and lifestyle appeal to contemporary and increasingly health-conscious, and digitally-engaged, consumers mean they’re a compelling proposition for county cricket’s rights holders.
So, here are a few key things to know.
Who’s in the game?
Only four of the top 15 nutrition players activate in cricket and those involved do not activate at regional events. Nutrition partnerships have traditionally followed a similar pattern of supplying products to an athlete or team.
iProSport signed England cricketers Ravi Bopara and Moeen Ali as international brand ambassadors in 2015 and became official hydration partner of the Emirates T20 cricket two years later.
MyProtein announced their partnership with Hampshire Cricket as official nutrition supplier, providing supplements to the players throughout the 2017 season to provide the “vital edge the players need to go one step further”.
MSC Nutrition did the same with the Middlesex Cricket team to support the performance and recovery of athletes. While HealthSpan Elite provided nutrition support to Hampshire cricket wicket keeper and brand ambassador, Lewis McManus.
Yet this seems a very light touch with cricket, where are the association with the big names, that we see in the likes of swimming (such as Science In Sport fuelling world-record-holding swimmer, Adam Peaty) and boxing (Bulk Powders powering Anthony Joshua).
Cricket needs to do more to play on collaborations with its major personalities – as it has done with the likes of Freddie Flintoff – particularly in the year of a World Cup on home soil and with England as favourites.
Champion the power of live
Around 1.6 million fans attended live county cricket events in 2017. 931,000 watched the 2018 T20 Blast from the stands and over 20,000 attended the finals of the Royal London One Day Cup, so rights holders need to make more of a play at this attractive asset. Not only does it provide a huge audience to engage with one-to-one but it’s relatively uncluttered in terms of competitors so gives a brand the opportunity to stand out in cricket and align with the energy and excitement of live matches.
The variety of formats – be it Test Matches, one-day or Twenty20 – means rights holders can afford to be creative in the way they assess and package the benefits of live-event activations to potential sponsors. Test Match cricket, in particular, where attendees can be at a ground for nine hours, offers a great opportunity to engage with fans who are often open to ‘distractions’ or activities to punctuate a long day’s viewing.
Follow the digital trail
Nutrition brands offer cricket a great way to build exposure and audiences through their digital followings. Optimum Nutrition, for example, has a following of 2.6m across Instagram and Facebook alone, and gets around 13million views for its top YouTube videos.
The brands put much effort into building a strong identity on visual-first platforms such as Instagram and YouTube. Their audiences are a largely contemporary and physically active cross-section of society. A quick glance at the social media feeds of the UK’s top sports nutrition brands and you realise the industry isn’t lacking in confidence; it literally drips off the images of their ultra-fit brand ambassadors, usually flexing in gyms and attributing their success to a particular product.
There’s real scope for rights holders to collaborate with sports nutrition brands and create a killer catalogue of unique and creative content for social channels. The trend of documentary-style series with behind-the-scenes feel could be an extra way for both rights holders and nutrition brands to diversify their content.
Great partnerships are a foundation for winning many a cricket match and the same is true on the commercial front. There is a massive opportunity for sports nutrition brands to broaden their sponsorship landscape and use cricket to create unique partnerships and stand out.
Cricket just needs to shout louder and better to reach them.
With the new format of cricket, The Hundred, about to start next year – along with 2019 being a home Ashes and World Cup year – the timing is perfect for county cricket rights holders to approach nutrition brands to curate a mutually beneficial match-winning partnership.
For a more in-depth look at the sector, check out caytoo’s sports nutrition brand landscape.