Research by Sports Sponsorship Insider into retail brands active in sports sponsorship, covering 500 deals, is displayed in the interactive report below.
E-commerce brands Rakuten and Alibaba Group have struck the three largest sports sponsorship deals in the global retail sector this year, bringing their fierce East Asian rivalry to Europe and North America.
The two companies are among the world’s richest retail brands, and have the footprint and reach to justify prestigious global deals.
Alibaba Group, headquartered in Hangzhou, China, is a Worldwide Olympic Partner under a 12-year deal from 2017 to 2028.
Rakuten, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is the main shirt sponsor of LaLiga champions Barcelona, and jersey patch partner of the NBA side Golden State Warriors.
Amazon, the American e-commerce giant whose market value climbed to over $1tn this week, is yet to enter the sports sponsorship fray. But its highly-profitable cloud computing subsidary, Amazon Web Services, is a major sponsor of NFL and Formula One.
Most retail sponsorships have a national rather than pan-regional focus, with a limited number of national supermarkets and specialist chains competing for properties in each country.
The retail sector has traditionally chosen advertising over sponsorship as its main communications channel. In France, for example, the number one supermarket chain E.Leclerc has no presence in sports sponsorship, and from next year, Carrefour, France’s second-largest supermarket chain by revenue, will pull out from major sports sponsorships.
This year, Carrefour opted not to renew its long-term partnerships with the French Football Federation (FFF) – worth around €3m per year – and the Tour de France – worth between €6m and €8m per year. Going forward, Carrefour says it aims to refocus its sponsorship strategy on events linked to food and retail.
In May this year, Intermarché, France’s number three supermarket chain by revenue, succeeded Carrefour at the FFF in a five-year deal from August 2018-19 to June 2022-23. Intermarché is also a sponsor of Ligue 1 club Olympique Lyonnais.
German supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl have used national sports sponsorships to try and shed their reputation as discount stores and promote their commitment to locally-sourced produce.
In the UK, Aldi sponsors the British Olympic Association, and, up until the end of the 2018 World Cup, Lidl sponsored The Football Association. In Italy, Lidl is also a Premium Sponsor of the Italian Football Federation, in a three-year deal, which runs until the end of this year.
The supermarket partners with nationally-important sports in markets where it is strong. In Ireland, this year, Lidl renewed its partnership with the Ladies Gaelic Football Association for a further three years. Lidl took over the role from rival supermarket brand Tesco in 2016.
In France, Lidl sponsors the Star Ligue – France’s premier handball club competition – and in Germany it sponsors the German national handball team via a partnership with the German Handball Federation. Signed in 2016, Lidl’s partnership with DHB was its first sports sponsorship in Germany, and this year was extended until the end of 2020.
By taking a prominent position in handball Lidl has broadened its exposure across Europe. In 2017, Lidl sponsored the World Men’s Handball Championship in France, and this year it sponsored the European Men’s Handball Championship in Croatia.
In Belgium Lidl have identified cycling as a target sport doing deals with the Tour of Flanders and individual races across Belgium, also UCI world team Quick-Step Floors. Included in its Belgian cycling events are some that are organised by the Amaury Sports Organisation, which also organise the Tour de France – will this existing relationship develop into a main sponsor of the Tour de France and Vuelta, thus replacing Carrefour?