Sports Marketing: Taking Gold in Singapore

14 Aug 2012|Raymond Ng

Those of us who have been in Singapore long enough would have been witness to the transformation taking place in the city state.  We have seen quite a dramatic change to our skyline and to rocketing tourist arrivals.

Most of us would attribute this transformation to the opening of our first casino (Resorts World Sentosa) in 2010 followed by a second (Marina Bay Sands) in 2011.

But while these high profile stories have certainly hogged the headlines, our transformation in sports, albeit a less dramatic one, is contributing just as much to the city’s change.

Here’s a brief look at the evolution of sport in Singapore, starting from 2004:

  • 2004 – Singapore Sports School opens
  • 2008 – First F1 race held in Singapore, and at night!  Held yearly since
  • 2010 – Hosted Youth Olympic Games
  • 2014 – Singapore Sports Hub to be completed
  • 2015 – Hosting of SEA Games
  • 2019 – Part-hosting of Rugby World Cup (plans in place to share hosting duties with hosting country, Japan)

In 2008, Singapore sports related activities were valued at S$1b.  In 2015, this is targeted to double to S$2b, a clear signal of the nation’s ambition and appetite.  And according to unofficial reports, this goal is is on target.  According to Patrick Nally, a sports marketing guru who recently visited Singapore, sport presents”monster’” business opportunities in the market.

For now, sports is supported by a slew of yearly events, and successful ones at that, like the iconic Standard Chartered Marathon, Aviva Ironman, Barclays Open, Emirates Derby and of course, the Formula 1 night race.  These events do not just bring in overseas athletes but also boost tourist arrivals.

Overall tourist numbers have increased from 10m in 2008 and 2009 to 11.6m and 13.2m in 2010 and 2011 respectively.  According to the 2012′s MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index, tourist spend in Singapore comes in at number 4 with US$12.7b (almost a 13% year-on-year increase), only behind Bangkok, London and Paris.  Of this, sightseeing and entertainment takes up only 3%, according to official statistics.  That’s almost US$400m.

And at 3%, there is obviously a lot of room for growth.

Then, there is the question of Singapore’s domestic market.  Not many are aware that the top 10% households in Singapore have an average monthly income of S$27,867 (median).  This represents some 114,600 households.  And current expenditure on sports attendance is grouped under “Recreation and sporting services”, which account for 1% of overall household expenditure.  Multiplying up this 1% (assuming they do spend 1% on sports), it gives us almost $400m each year.  Now, if we can only increase this to 4 or 5%…

So, as Singapore works with its usual efficiency to complete the 2014 “Sports Hub” stadium, brands looking to grow in the region should ask themselves a multi-million dollar question: do they join the race for sports supremacy now, or wait to see what opportunities present themselves down the line – and potentially run the risk of losing out.

Brands that are not currently active in sports should look to the likes of adidas, Nike, Volvo, Heineken, Red Bull, Rolex, LG and many other brands that have successfully leveraged marketing and sponsorship opportunities through apparel, events, stadium naming rights, sports equipment and even celebrities (think Tiger Woods).  Some brands are even building equity by supporting local communities, providing the resources and structures that will allow them to flourish in sports.  A grass roots approach for brands looking to connect on a more intimate level.

Ultimately, brands that win will look for the opportunities that build on their brand’s equity, that support their positioning and that deliver against the personality of their brand.  Anything less will be lost on the field of play.


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