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Horse sports hit the sweet spot for marketers

Posted: Spet 2016

Peter McNeile, Sponsorship Consultant for British Team Chasing and the Point-to-Point Authority, explains why horses can be a winning formula for any business looking to engage fresh audiences

There are over 4m people in the UK who ride regularly. In addition, 500,000 attend British Eventing affiliated one or 3 day events like Badminton or Burghley, a further 400,000 go Point-to-Point racing and 50,000 attend Team Chases. Other events every week draw together equestrian leisure consumers again and again nationwide to enjoy their sport, not to mention 6m who attend horseracing.

Riding as a leisure sport is not cheap. Sadly, horses have a blithe ignorance of upkeep costs in time and money. As a result, riding tends to appeal largely but not exclusively to a mainly affluent group of land, property and rural business owners and professionals, and their families.

In recent research at a team chase, we discovered that 70% of the audience was under 45, 65% were in full-time or self-employment, the same percentage had a household income in excess of £50,000 and that they lived for the most part in rural locations where the average property value was £100k above the national average.
In short, horse sports represent a significant route to market to reach a substantial audience with a high discretionary income.

There are other reasons why horse sports should fit the bill for brands to engage with consumers. As anyone who has attended a Hunter Trial or Event will testify, there is always a lot of waiting around! And for spectators, this offers considerable dwell time to browse stands, talk to people, and to discuss the price of fish, pet food or cars.
Small wonder therefore that the two leading brands in Team Chasing this past season were Skinner’s Pet Foods and Volvo.

Skinner’s is a relative newcomer to horse events, but has used the county show circuit to increase brand penetration and encourage product trial among consumers. Across multiple events, sample packs are either given away or sold, with money-off vouchers to be redeemed at retail distributor partners like Mole Valley Farmers and Countrywide. The brand has found that name awareness has grown in a key dog-owning demographic through sponsorship of Team Chasing, to the extent that this is being extended to other horse sports where there is a correlation with country pursuits.

Volvo, on the other hand, used Team Chasing & Point-to-Point racing as a lead generation exercise, putting local dealers out in the field (literally) to engage customers about their All Wheel Drive vehicle range. Vehicle sales have been successfully tracked to events.

Team Chasing’s ability to identify a proportion of its audience which participates in the events, making entries, and competing, makes this a holistic marketing solution that extends beyond just face-to-face marketing. Brands are able to reach customers in a multi-channel approach, compensating for lower footfall than at major events through a more focused approach on a smaller set of prospective customers.

And have you noticed how much more receptive customers can be to simple discreet sales messages when they’re having fun? A good reason to adopt sport to reach these people.

Effort + engagement + audience fit = sales success.

If Volvo, Skinner’s and others are doing it, why aren’t you?

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