Women’s sport sponsors, AI, food service recovery: 5 interesting stats to start your week

We arm you with all the numbers you need to tackle the week ahead.

Most consumers believe sport sponsors should support both men’s and women’s teams

Around three in five consumers believe brands that sponsor a sport should invest in both the men’s and women’s sides, according to research by the Women’s Sport Trust.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of women expect brands who sponsor sport or sports teams to give equal time to the men’s and women’s games in their advertising.

The research also finds consumers are more likely to think favorably about a brand if it sponsors women’s sports (29%) versus men’s sport (17%). That favorability among consumers may translate into commercial benefits for the sponsors, the findings suggest, with 16% of the UK population indicating they are more likely to buy from a brand that supports women’s sport, compared to 13% who say the same about those who support men’s sports.

The awareness of women’s sport sponsorships is rising. The research, carried out in partnership with sponsorship consultancy ONSIDE, finds 24.5 million UK adults are now aware of at least one women’s sport sponsorship.

Of the highest profile sponsorships, 02’s sponsorship of the England women’s rugby team and Coca-Cola’s FIFA Women’s Football World Cup sponsorship enjoyed the highest level of awareness – 14.6 million and and 14.4 million people respectively said they were aware of the partnerships. Comparatively, 21.6 million were aware of the partnership between the Premier League and Barclays .

Source: Women’s Sport Trust and ONSIDE

Most marketing employers want to embrace AI in the workplace

Almost six in 10 (58%) marketing employers believe we should embrace AI in the workplace, with only 8% believing it should be feared.

Marketers across the board have a similar approach to AI, with 58% believing it should be embraced in the workplace, 31% unsure and 10% believing it should be feared.

The research by recruitment company Hays, finds almost eight in 10 (78%) of marketing employers are not currently using AI in their work. The top reason given for not deploying the tools is because of a gap in knowledge and a lack of awareness of the benefits (40%).

Looking to the future, over two-thirds of employers (69%) anticipate they will allow their marketing teams to utilise AI tools, compared to 11% who foresee themselves banning tools like ChatGPT.

Over a third (37%) of marketers report having used AI in their current job. This figure is significantly higher than in other professions such as accountancy and finance (10%), construction (12%) and engineering (13%).

Source: Hays

Consumers turn to quick service restaurants amid inflation

European consumer spend in restaurants has returned to pre-pandemic levels, with fast-food restaurants particularly benefitting, as customers trade down amid inflationary pressures on income.

Total spend in the food service sector for the year ended May 2023 returned to pre-pandemic levels of €308bn (£264bn). For Great Britain specifically, the sector was down just 1% versus pre-Covid levels, indicating recovery for restaurants, despite many consumers indicating they would pull back from spending on eating out amid the cost of living crisis.

Across Europe, the number of consumer visits to restaurants remains down 11% versus pre-Covid, suggesting higher prices may be driving the recovery as much as increased demand.

The inflationary impact is being seen in the disparity of recoveries between the full-service restaurants (FSR) and quick-service restaurants (QSR). For the period between June 2022 and May 2023, the European QSR industry grew by 8%, by comparison the FSR sector declined by 3%. Workplace and student canteens continue to see double-digit losses as post-pandemic work-from-home habits stick.

The research from Circana (formerly known as IRI and NPD Group) finds the desire to socialise is motivating people to eat out (35%), and that the importance of treat occasions is growing at the expense of convenience- driven visits.

Circana also finds “Click and Collect” services, which allow consumers to order online and then pick up in-store, are rocketing in popularity. Spend via this service has grown 10% versus 2022 levels to reach €10bn (£8.6bn) in 2023.

Source: Circana

Consumers are opting for affordability over sustainability

The importance consumers place on price in their purchase decisions has risen by an average of 5% compared to the start of the pandemic. By comparison, the importance placed on sustainability has remained consistent since before Covid, fluctuating by a maximum of 1%.

The figures, which come from business services provider Paragon, also suggest less emphasis on factors like quality and ease of purchase, as consumers look to save money. The value assigned to quality and ease of purchase has seen a decline of around 1-3%.

The importance of sustainability as a factor in purchase decisions varies greatly based on consumer age. Around four in ten of those 18 to 24 express a higher inclination towards sustainable purchases, compared to just around a quarter (24%) of over 65s.

What is clear is that most consumers expect companies to be taking action on protecting the environment. Around two-thirds (66%) of consumers assert companies themselves should be putting in more effort on the issue than consumers themselves.

Just over a quarter (26%) of consumers believe companies are doing enough on sustainability issues. Almost three-quarters (73%) of UK consumers support the idea of introducing a standardised labelling system, which displays the sustainability of companies.

Source: Paragon

Mass personalisation means marketers find it hard to stand out

Almost three-quarters (74%) of marketing leaders say it is hard to stand out when every competitor uses personalisation.

However, there appears to be plenty of room for brands to improve personalisation efforts, with less than a third of consumers stating digital experiences feel “truly personalised”. Over two thirds (70%) also say they’re frustrated with supposedly targeted promotions that don’t relate to their personal interests.

Around two-thirds (63%) of consumers claim they would be more loyal to a brand if it got to know them on a personal level.

In order to make content more personalised, 70% of marketers are marrying personalisation and experimentation to optimise their approach, while 42% have invested in new experimentation technologies to do this effectively.

Source: Optimizely