Growth in participation indicates a greater demand for equipment and apparel. Logically, the assumption can be made that increased purchasing results from increased participation. Therefore, the increased purchasing activity of women should be of interest to corporations that focus on a female market segment. Similar logic has been used to relate spectating to sponsor recognition.
The corporate rationale for sponsorship often utilizes the theory that recognition of event sponsors results in increased purchasing and development of new consumers. Corporate sponsors of the intercollegiate sport have cited a desire to increase consumer base and increased revenue or market share as perceived benefits. The NCAA utilized host communications to establish a group of 12 official corporate sponsor’s in1993. Of the 12 involved, one corporation was specifically targeting women and seven were targeting both genders.
For intercollegiate athletic programs governed by the NCAA, interest in increasing the number of women’s sports opportunities has continued. Balancing monies allocated for women’s programs with monies allocated for men’s programs have resulted in greater marketing efforts and increased the pursuit of corporate support. In a case study involving Ohio State University’s women’s basketball program, 4,150 season tickets were sold compared to 1,000 the previous year due to an increase in marketing activity. Fifty-five percent of fans surveyed were women. Eighty-six percent of all fans surveyed recognized the corporate sponsor.
The Ohio State example presents evidence that some companies are starting to benefit from this growing awareness and interest in women’s athletics.in Olympic sponsorship, corporations have become aware of the fact that the percentage of female viewers approached 40% during the 1992 Winter Games. In professional sport, a sizable portion of the audience is female. Indoor soccer has had a consistent fan base comprised of 50% females.
Comparable statistics have shown approximately 30% of the audience for baseball and 40% for basketball has been female. Although females comprise a significant portion of the audience, they are often excluded from advertising. In a study conducted at the 1993 Mazda Tennis Classic, 63% of the attendees were women. However, analysis of the 32commercials presented during the women’s final match revealed that only one was exclusively targeted at women.
Organizations that have conducted research to verify the results of their sports sponsorships have found women to represent a virtually neglected segment. As an example, the NBA was unaware of excluding female fans from its advertising until a consultant conducted a study and exposed the omission.