sponsorship / 5 minute read

7 trends in next gen sponsorship

Written by Julia Polak

7 August 2023

In the dynamic world of sponsorship, staying ahead of emerging trends is crucial for brands eager to connect with their target audiences in a meaningful way. As new technologies emerge, the generational mix changes and expectations shift, the way we approach sponsorship has to change too. That’s why we’re taking a deep dive into the trends shaping effective sponsorship packages right now.

Gen Z and Alpha are only becoming more important

There are well documented flaws in designing any campaign on demographics alone, but that doesn’t change the fact that the make-up of any audience is changing, and changing fast. By 2030, Gen Z and Alpha will make up 45% of the working population. Born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s, these generations have grown up immersed in technology. They never knew a time before the internet and the digital world has been part of theirs since day one. To effectively engage with them, sponsorship strategies therefore need to reflect their digital consumption habits. Traditional platforms like television or radio aren’t their first (or possibly second or third) choice for consuming media, making purchases or researching products. Instead, they gravitate towards over-the-top (OTT) streaming services and social media platforms, where they have control over what, when, and how they consume content.

Transparency and authenticity are paramount to these generations. They can easily spot insincerity and tokenism, and are vocal in calling them out. Social and environmental consciousness plays a vital role in their decision-making, with a strong emphasis on equality, sustainability, and the planet. They might have a shorter attention span than older consumers – just eight seconds according to some studies – but once engaged, they become avid advocates, eagerly sharing and recommending experiences they find meaningful.

Next Gen Board

Technology is evolving, and keeping up is vital

No industry is immune to changes in technology and in the world of sponsorship, new technologies are providing fresh opportunities at every turn. Whether through consumer-facing experiences built around VR or AR, behind the scenes work completed by AI or via 3D printing, or even measurement with any of a number of new tools, all elements of effective sponsorship can be augmented with the right tech. Essentially, efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability can all be increased through careful use of emerging technologies. Finding the right tools and their best uses is the tricky bit, but with our expert help, using tech to optimise your sponsorship strategies becomes a whole lot simpler.

Data-driven digital engagement is here to stay

The shift from traditional to digital content shows no signs of slowing down. Both sponsors and future consumers are increasingly present online, making digital platforms essential for effective sponsorship. Plus, activity online is easier to measure and provides valuable data for shaping campaigns according to individual consumer preferences, meaning we can get a more accurate picture of ROI and react to our audience at speed. Because of all that, data-driven engagement is super important for both rights holders and sponsors. Vitally, it allows us to gather comprehensive data on brand engagement and evaluate key metrics such as brand awareness, purchase intent, and leads generated. Even better, all that data means we can target specific customer groups based on demographic and geographic factors and get your brand in front of the people who are most likely to connect with, and purchase from, it.

Global reach is more important that ever

Now that Gen Z and Alpha are starting to make up a larger portion of any audience, their preferences are only becoming more important to sponsorship campaigns. As global citizens who crave 24/7 engagement, regardless of their location, global events that connect fans across countries are now highly appealing. That's why tech giants like Amazon and Meta (formerly Facebook) are already investing heavily in acquiring rights for global events. Sponsors, too, are eager to align themselves with these events to tap into their massive reach and connect with fans globally. Investment in global sports sponsorships reached over $12 billion in 2022, representing as 12% increase from the previous year. That figure is only set to grow.

Storytelling captures attention like nothing else

To capture the attention of the modern audience, brands need to deliver quick, sharp storytelling that resonates. In an era where audiences are well-informed and crave authenticity and connection, building meaningful relationships with customers requires effective storytelling. That means a single billboard or standalone social post is not enough. The future of effective sponsorship lies in constructing compelling narratives that inspire and attract audiences. All the best campaigns start with a story, yet many brands leave the real heart out of their sponsorship plans. To really land a message with your audiences and see all the benefits of sponsorship, brands must build identity into campaigns and produce innovative story-driven content. By unlocking the true heart, soul, and magic of their stories, brands can forge genuine connections and drive brand loyalty. But don't worry if it sounds complex, we can help you uncover and showcase your story.

Alternative sports are stepping into the spotlight

Sport has always presented opportunities when it comes to sponsorship, but now traditional sports are facing pressure to adapt to the changing landscape as participation and stadium visits decline. Alternative sports, such as extreme, outdoor and e-sports, though, are on the rise. Many are popular among Gen Z and Alpha and brands are recognising the potential there. Red Bull's success in capitalising on this trend just highlights the potential benefits of aligning with alternative sports. For people who grew up gaming, e-sports and streaming services are a natural progression of traditional sports and increasingly, platforms like DAZN are catering to this niche. We’re predicting a streaming-centric approach as early as 2028 for the LA Olympics, where savvy brands will find new ways to serve an even broader audience than before.

Sustainability and social responsibility matter


Sustainability is fast moving up the agenda for people of all ages and backgrounds, but among Gen Z and Alpha, it’s particularly important. They really care about environmental stewardship and social responsibility, and they can spot a fake a mile off. They’re quick to call out inauthenticity, so brands hoping to engage this audience need to match their missions to their audiences’ values and demonstrate genuine commitment. Making sponsorship deals that align with your brand is more important than it’s ever been and, put simply, just works best. Think of The North Face sponsoring climbing.

If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that sponsorship strategies must adapt to stay relevant. Embracing technology, expanding globally, leveraging storytelling techniques, and incorporating sustainability and social responsibility are key trends that will shape the future of sponsorship. By understanding and capitalising on these trends, brands can forge meaningful connections with their target audiences, cultivate brand loyalty, and stay ahead of the competition. As a business with heaps of sponsorship, tech, event and campaign experts right here in-house, DRPG is perfectly placed to help you do just that.

Want to craft a sponsorship campaign that gets results? Just get in touch with our friendly team at anythingspossible@drpgroup.com to get started.