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5 Trends to Keep You on the Cutting Edge from Navigate’s Jeff Nelson

Jeff Nelson is frequently asked to “peek around the corner.” As the President at Navigate, the industry’s leading data-driven consulting firm, he always tries to be prepared with answers. Navigate produces the Insights + Trends report each year and Nelson shared a few findings on a recent episode of 7in7 and at the Sponsorship Mastery Summit.

1. The Metaverse
The Metaverse is taking center stage with more than 171 million VR users worldwide, which netted $39 billion in revenue in 2021. What does that mean for sponsorship? Well, it creates an opportunity to sell digital merch to avatars (users). Other applications include building virtual venues where digital merch can be sold, and the ability to broadcast games in VR.

2. Sports Betting
Another area Navigate is keeping an eye on is sports betting. The industry has exploded, doubling in size with $2 billion in revenue generated in 2021, with both online and offline opportunities. Nelson used the “Born in a Ballpark Challenge” partnership between Blue Moon and DraftKings as an example of a successful activation in the betting space.

3. Social Media
Then there is social media, with 82 percent of the U.S. population having a social profile. Over $177 billion is expected to be spent on global social media ads. The social media advertising space is surpassing the global TV ad spend. The message here, is that every organization needs to focus on a digital-first marketing approach when it comes to activating your partnership. On social media, that starts with positive, engaging content, like Budweiser’s #OneTeam campaign.

4. Gen Z
In addition to its Insights + Trends report, Navigate also created a Gen Z Sports Viewership and Attendance report. “This generation, more than any other, does not tolerate inconvenience,” Nelson said. Gen Z, made up of 65 million people, is also looking for convenience in its attendance experience, which inherently can be a challenge at live sporting events.

However, there is also an opportunity for sponsors. The more sponsors can think about ways to make a more frictionless experience for sports fans, the more they can tap into the ability to generate positive brand sentiment. Additionally, Gen Z can be very engaged, spending nearly seven hours a day online and three on social media. This goes back to the importance of being digital-first.

5. Data
Regarding data, Nelson pointed to Google and Apple working toward killing cookies, making it more difficult for organizations to execute targeted marketing. With that in mind, there are going to be more and more partnerships that revolve around data capture and sharing, like Spotify becoming the jersey sponsor of FC Barcelona.

When it comes to insights and trends, Nelson will continue to “peek around the corner.” For now, though, sponsorship marketers should continue to explore partnership opportunities and activations.