Navigate Research

Industry Insights

As the industry leader in evaluating and measuring marketing investments, Navigate has a wealth of knowledge in the sponsorship and marketing space. This blog shares our knowledge and insights on current events in the sports business, marketing and sponsorship worlds.

Simplicity in the Sports Business

Navigate Research - Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Written by Alexa Linger

What is a company? A business? A corporation?  It all begins with an idea.  Usually followed by a highly motivated founder, a uniform and aggressive team, strategic structure and plan for growth once this single idea begins to take shape and gain believers and in turn, customers.  The question is, how do we react to growth? And on the other hand, how do we constantly reinvent our idea and brand when our revenue numbers are not ideal?

Nine times out of ten revenue growth equals product expansion and platform development, especially seen during and after the .com world made it achievable for the average American to carry a personal pint sized computer in the palm of their hands at all hours of the day.


Let’s consider Apple Inc. as an example. It all began 39 years ago when Apple developed the Apple computer kit.  Revenue doubled every four months during the first 5 years of operations, for an average growth rate of 700%.  Apple was not slowing down anytime soon. The company is now included in the following industries: computer hardware, computer software, consumer electronics and digital distribution.   Apple does not only socialize with all the kids in the sand box, but they do it well.  With 1 million people visiting Apple retail stores each day globally it’s safe to say “you can’t judge college dropouts.”

On to another visionary company that is taking a different approach: Sony.  Sony is going through major changes to focus on where their brand needs to reside. Listening to demand and catering to needs.  Sounds simple. Sony is strategizing to exit the TV and Smartphone sectors of the industry and is focusing it’s spending on a more profitable business- camera sensors, videogames and entertainment.  As a result of taking a step back and retargeting the brand, Sony “shares have risen more than 80 percent over the past year as investors applauded the restructuring (Reuters- Sony Sees 25-Fold in Profit Jump by 2018).”

Brooks Running is another innovative brand that operates on its strengths and is focused on producing the very best in what they know.  Brooks has transformed the specialty, and even mainstream world of running. With 9,000,000 people running more than 110 days a year, proper footwear is a must have. But the brand that is now the leader in the “multibillion-dollar specialty running shoe market with 29% market share (Inc.- How Brooks Reinvented its Brand)” has not always been the top dog.  On the brink of bankruptcy in 2001, Jim Weber signed on as CEO.  His idea was simple- focus on what Brooks does best: producing the top performing running shoes.  It could not have easy to cut product lines that produced more than 30 million in revenue, but after the changes, Brooks has surpassed the $500,000,000 mark last year.

How do we make sense of these three examples?  One company that has embraced expansion and has performed well in various industries.  Another company has cut losses and is taking the road less traveled.  The third business narrowed its vision in developing the very best products in a targeted specialty market.

Kevin Plank, successful CEO and founder of Under Armour, recently discussed his daily routine, business growth and motivation factors.  He has a white board in his office with various quotes written down in black ink.  Sounds like a busy clutter of inspiration. However, one phrase is written in red and it reads something along the lines of “don’t forget to focus on what has made you successful- sell quality shirts and shoes.”

Tampa Bay Lightning GIF Activation

Navigate Research - Wednesday, June 24, 2015

In order to generate more social media buzz, the Tampa Bay Lightning are slightly tweaking their approach on photo activationGame 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals at Amalie Arena featured a "GIF photo booth" that allowed fans to take an animated GIF and share it on social media, simultaneously capturing consumer information and promoting media engagement.

Photo from

GIFs are computer images that are animated through flashing frames that loop endlessly, like a mini movie with no sound.  They are popular on the Web due to their wide support and portability on media platforms like Twitter, Tumblr and email. Facebook, one the largest social media sites in the world, just announced its support for animated GIFs. So get ready to see more of them, as they are a bright light for brands in the future of social marketing. 

Monster Energy Inks Historical Deal with Owners of Triple Crown Hopeful

Navigate Research - Friday, June 05, 2015

Written by Chris Miller

As the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival approaches this weekend, American Pharoah will look to claim the first Triple Crown title since 1978.  Currently standing as the 3-5 line favorite, the thoroughbred is just 1 ½ miles away from making history.  Monster Energy saw this as a massive marketing opportunity, as they reached a record breaking deal with American Pharoah’s owners early Wednesday morning.  The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but is reportedly a seven-figure deal and the largest in the history of horse racing.

The deal will give Monster the right to have its logo on the horse's pre-race cooling blanket and for the company's “Monster girls” to surround the horse leading up to the Belmont Stakes.  The company will get its logo on the hats of the Zayats, the family who bred the horse.  Their logo will also be on the collar of jockey Victor Espinoza during the race. 

This is not a traditional endorsement for Monster Beverage, who is mostly known for their affiliation with extreme sports like skateboarding and snowboarding.  However, the VP of Sports Marketing, Mitch Covington indicated that the idea was pure spontaneity and too good of an opportunity to pass up.  Covington said "We can't wait to be a part of possibly going down in history with our name attached to a fine American icon." 

Earlier this year, NBC's coverage of American Pharoah’s victory posted the highest Kentucky Derby overnight rating (10.8) in 23 years and up 7 percent from last year.  This encouraging statistic, along with the social media attention that is sure-to-come bodes well for Monster’s investment.  This exposure alone will likely validate the stock that Monster has put into American Pharoah.

Perhaps what will make Monster’s investment really pay off though, is what could be if the horse manages to pull off the feat that no other horse has in 37 years.  So many people are paying attention because there might be a Triple Crown winner.  This is a tremendous photo-op & share possibility, especially if something special were to happen.  The Triple Crown prestige attributed to American Pharoah will surely pay dividends to the brand that was splashed all around him throughout.  One things is for sure... Monster Beverage will be American Pharoah’s biggest fan this Saturday.   

We’re A Sponsor – Now What?

Navigate Research - Tuesday, June 02, 2015

There is no secret that the sports world is inundated with corporate brands and logos.  We know this as sports sponsorship, which we define more clearly to survey takers as “a brand that partners with a team or league in exchange for marketing opportunities, which includes using the brand’s logo or product in the arena or in advertising.”  Multiple motives exist for companies to sponsor a team or an event, including advertising, targeting, communicating corporate social responsibility, corporate hospitality as well as building connections and stakeholder benefits.  No matter the objective behind a sponsorship, we at Navigate take pride in assisting our clients with measuring the impact sponsorship has on key markets and populations. 

Just as there are multiple ways to execute a sponsorship strategy based on event, targets and time of year, determining the research methodology can be equally endless as creative strategy is used on our end to ensure we are appropriately assessing the outcome of a partnership.  One of the best ways to measure a sponsorship is to utilize our Sponsorship Snapshot option.  The Sponsorship Snapshot is a budget-friendly method that provides powerful insight to your sponsorship’s performance. 

Using a sampling plan of fans of a given property and non-fans of the same property in a particular geo, we are able to dive into a sponsorship and understand what fans think and how their behavior and attitudes alter, if at all, because of the sponsorship.  Gauging metrics like sponsorship awareness – are your key targets aware of your association with a property?  Or is another brand benefiting from your sponsorship due to misattribution?  From there, we can dive into the “so what?” factor by analyzing fans who correctly identified the brand versus fans who did not against key metrics.  We can answer questions such as, “What do fans think of our brand as a sponsor of X property?”  or if fans are more likely to purchase your product or service because of the partnership.

To keep costs low, the Sponsorship Snapshot adheres to a standardized questionnaire, sampling plan and report design.  The standardization of the product allows for a fast turnaround from project inception to deliverable and also enables the study to be comparable to other projects Navigate has executed in the past.  Navigate has a databased comprised of thousands of respondents who have answered similar questions.  The dynamic database allows for us to filter projects by property type (league or team, college or pro sport, event, etc.), sponsorship spend, number of years with the sponsorship, among others.  The Snapshot report conveys the brands’ measurement as well as industry trends we see in our Comparative Database.  This type of comparison provides additional color to not only understand the sponsorship impact of a given brand, but to also examine the deltas between similar studies; rather than looking at results in a vacuum, the Snapshot showcases industry norms highlighting if a given metric is performing above, at or below what Navigate typically sees in sports sponsorship – examples shown below:

All marketing strategies, in sports or otherwise, should always be supported by research to know if (1) the objectives are being met and (2) if the strategy plan should be altered in any way.  Decisions are often made within short time periods or at the end of a budget year when money can be tight.  Regardless of the situation, Navigate has an option that can work for you.  The Sponsorship Snapshot delivers insights on the crux of the sponsorship and provides arsenal answering if a partnership should be renewed or negotiated differently, all within a low-cost budget and quick two-week delivery.