The NPD Group Finds Art of Matching the Right Athletes with the Right Brands a Challenge For Marketers

Share Article

Olympic Endorsements Are More Complex than Conventional Wisdom Would Have Marketers Believe

Choosing Olympic athletes for endorsement deals depends on more than just aligning with the right product category; the athlete’s fan base and the brands they use are equally critical to a successful partnership between brands and athletes, according to global information company, The NPD Group.

Athletes who appear similar at first glance can attract fans that use distinctly different brands. Swimmers Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky both have bona fide Olympic pedigrees, having won multiple gold medals in 2012 and 2016, respectively, but the similarities stop there. According to NPD’s BrandLink1, Missy’s fans drink more juices than the average consumer, whereas Katie’s fans favor soft drinks. Minute Maid is one of Missy Franklin’s key sponsors, and her fans’ heavier than average consumption makes this a well-matched, authentic endorsement.

“Katie Ledecky’s decision to swim for Stanford takes her out of endorsement consideration during her NCAA years. However, endorsing either Coke or Pepsi would be a natural fit once she turns pro, assuming that her fan base continues to reflect these brand preferences,” said Barbara Zack, vice president at The NPD Group. “And, importantly, the optimal sponsorship deal would be with one of the lighter, healthier sub-brands which Katie’s fans prefer.”

In addition to beverages, notable differences exist in the brands of clothing, shoes and personal care that Missy and Katie fans use. Both athletes would be strong candidates for endorsing any of these categories, but the Americana brands that attract Missy fans are not the same ones as the more fashion-forward brands that resonate with Katie fans.

“Brands looking to capture the prestige and excitement of the Olympics naturally look for athlete endorsers. To optimize their investment, savvy advertisers ensure that their brand is an authentic fit with the athlete, but also resonates with the fan base who they are seeking to attract,” said Zack.

1BrandLink identifies fan preferences to help marketers identify the celebrities and brands with which users are most likely to engage.

BrandLink® is a best-in-class data partnership between The NPD Group and GfK MRI, providing actionable data detailing precise connections between thousands of brands, thousands of media properties, and the individual fans of thousands of specific celebrities. The BrandLink database reflects over 90,000 consumer surveys.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group provides market information and business solutions that drive better decision-making and better results. The world’s leading brands rely on us to help them get the right products in the right places for the right people. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, diamonds, e-commerce, entertainment, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, technology, toys, video games, and watches / jewelry. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter: @npdgroup

About GfK MRI
GfK MRI’s focus on excellence has made it the leading producer of media and consumer research in the United States. GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer is used extensively by agencies and advertisers for their media planning, media buying and marketing. The Survey’s vast database of media usage, demographics, psychographics, and consumer behavior makes it a powerful resource for penetrating insight into the actions and motivations of adult American consumers.

For more information, visit, find us on LinkedIn, and follow us on Twitter: @GfK.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

David Riley
The NPD Group
+1 (917) 543-5465
Email >
Visit website