Consumers Expect Corporate Sponsors To Cut Back

A new Performance Research study of American consumers revealed that 32% reported they are paying "Less attention" to corporate sponsorships than they were a year ago. Moreover, 62% would like to see less spending on sports sponsorships for companies experiencing any difficulties, and 68% would especially like to see less spending by those accepting federal assistance.

This expectation is in keeping with consumer's own behaviors, with:

  • 67% of respondents indicating that they are less likely to purchase a ticket for a favorite sporting event
  • 64% for a favorite performing arts or cultural event
  • 55% less likely to donate money to a favorite cause than they were a year ago

Over two-thirds of respondents reported having a lower overall approval of how

corporate America conducts business than they had a year ago.

"Overall, has your approval rating of how corporate America conducts business today changed from what it was a year ago?"

Higher approval than a year ago


Same approval as a year ago


Lower approval than a year ago


Not sure


Source: Performance Research, March 2009

Not surprisingly, two-thirds reported that they have a "Lower approval" of American companies than they did one year ago. But would increasing or decreasing sponsorship spending change this opinion?

Within the sports environment, just 13% reported that sponsorship of their favorite event should increase to raise their opinion of corporate America, while twice that many reported it should decrease- with the remainder  indicating it would make no difference.

Results were mixed for sponsorship of cultural events. The story was different for non-profits and causes, with 41% feeling sponsorship should increase to raise opinions of corporate America, and just 12% indicating it should decrease.

Sponsorship Change Preference to Raise Consumer Opinion of Corporate America  ∫(% Respondents)

Sponsorship Change

Sports Event

Cultural Event


Increase support




No change in support




Decrease support




Source: Performance Research, March 2009

The majority of respondents indicated they were less likely to buy tickets to a favorite sports or entertainment event, or to donate to a favorite cause, than they were a year ago.

Specific Spending Likelihood vs. A Year Ago


Likelihood Of Buying A Ticket


Sporting Event

Performing Arts or Cultural Event

Donate Money to Cause

More likely




The same




Less likely




Source: Performance Research, March 2009

When respondents were asked if they would be more or less confident if a company were to sponsor their favorite sporting event, those industries most under fire in the current economy (banks, investment firms, and domestic automobile manufacturers) were most likely to inspire "Less" confidence as a sponsor. Only about 10% indicated they would be "More confident" by seeing sponsorship in these industries.

A majority of respondents agreed:

  • They are thinking more about wasteful corporate spending now than ever before (74%)
  • That there should be restrictions on sponsorship spending for companies receiving federal assistance (69%)
  • That it is more important than ever for companies to appear "Humble" (64%)
  • That they are impressed when hearing of a company cutting back on corporate hospitality (64%)

According to Jed Pearsall, president of Performance Research, "Consumers are recognizing that they need to live within their means, and they expect corporate America to do the same. This is not the time for stable companies to drop sponsorships, but to provide more value to consumers with their programs... "

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