||Increased Sales Plus New Customers Equals New Sponsorships For Subaru
Subaru Follows Passions of Expanded Customer Base into New Partnerships
The call to "give back to the community" may seem like a tired cliche. But finding ways to deepen the emotional and tangible connection between your business and the community it serves has never been more important.
When things are going well for companies and brands, marketing and sponsorship budgets tend to flourish.
That is the case with Subaru of America -- which experienced a 22 percent increase in sales from 2009 to 2010 -- but the reason is not simply because the automaker feels flush.
In addition to representing new dollars, recent Subaru buyers reflect a new type of customer with interests beyond winter sports, gardening and other activities in which the company has long invested sponsorship funds.
So to continue its practice of supporting the passions of its consumers, Subaru has recently added running and yoga properties to its target list, having identified those two areas as popular activities among its new buyers.
The company also is signing new deals with properties that fit its traditional sponsorship profile. For example, late last year Subaru announced a new partnership with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming.
IEG SR spoke with Todd Lawrence, Subaru's promotions and sponsorship manager, about the automaker's latest partnerships, trends and other topics. Below are edited excerpts from the conversation.
IEG SR: Have there been any changes in Subaru's sponsorship strategy over the past few years?
Lawrence: Our strategy is to support activities that Subaru owners are passionate about. That won't change.
But we are coming off two record years of sales, and new people have been introduced to the brand. With new owners come new passion points. We will continue to monitor what they are doing and support those activities.
IEG SR: What are the interests of those new owners and what have you done thus far in terms of support?
Lawrence: Running and yoga. We just signed a presenting sponsorship of the Merrell Down and Dirty National Mud Run Series. We don't have anything lined up with yoga, but it's something we are looking at.
IEG SR: What was the appeal of the Merrell Down and Dirty series?
Lawrence: It's not a typical running event. It has obstacles, and it's not necessarily about winning the race. It's about the overall experience.
We are working with the event and other sponsors to add a new element to the series that participants can enjoy.
IEG SR: You also have a new deal with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Lawrence: Jackson Hole is new for us. We signed the sponsorship at the beginning of the ski season. We want to align with the best mountain resorts, and we think Jackson Hole is one of them.
We also sponsor Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado, as well as a number of regional resorts.
IEG SR: How does Subaru typically activate its sponsorships?
Lawrence: We try to do something nice for Subaru owners, such as offering them a gift, often in partnership with a sponsored affiliate.
For example, we leverage Subaru Master the Mountain events with the Professional Ski Instructors of America to provide free lessons for Subaru owners and others who visit our display.
We also like to have cars on display. We want people to experience what the Subaru brand is all about and interact with our company in a way that is not possible through traditional media.
One of the things we have found is that Subaru owners collect experiences over possessions. We want to be part of as many of their experiences as we can.
IEG SR: Are you seeing any big-picture sponsorship trends?
Lawrence: With the economy taking a hit, I have definitely noticed a drop in the number of companies involved in sponsorship, as well as sponsorship fees.
The economy brought some inflated sponsorship costs down to their true value, which is good for everyone. Prices will rebound, but for now, some inflation that was previously there has come down.
(Source: IEG Sponsorship Report, 03/28/11)
What's In It For You:
Do you know the specific passions of the consumers that listen to your station(s) as well as Subaru knows those of its customers? Not every listener will participate in every campaign your station executes. But targeting large batches of consumers with shared interests will let you design effective activation points for your sponsors, reaping greater and more measurable results and more renewals.
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