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Professional Triathlete Sponsorship Survey Results

Posted: Jun 24 2015

Thank you very much to everyone who took our Professional Triathlete survey. The intent of the survey was to receive feedback from pros related to sponsorship contracts and find out what matters the most to them. Now, we knew that cash was going to be king, so we tried to make it clear that we understood that point. We have and will continue to include guaranteed cash in our contracts and as we grow, the amounts will grow as well.

Not surprisingly, cash is still king

What we were really hoping for was to find out how else we can add value. To that point, we did learn a lot from the survey and will use the information to craft more attractive sponsorship deals.  It also seemed to us that some of you might be interested in the results. So, here's a recap of the survey.

The survey was anonymous and it was open to men and women who were professional triathletes. Almost 50 people took the survey. 62% of the respondents were women and the majority (73%) classified themselves as long-course triathletes. Now, given the relatively small sample size, we won’t claim that the results are statistically valid but, again, we still feel compelled to share the results.

First, we found that on average, each triathlete had roughly three (3) sponsors (3.29 to be precise) and for you stats folks who know averages can be deceiving, both the median and the mode were also three (3).

We then asked about the relative value of services that we might be able to line up for them and saw that anything related to travel such as hotels, airfare, rental cars etc. was viewed as a significant benefit, followed by help building personal brands. Elements in the brand building included help with websites and public relations (i.e. getting interviews).

Travel assistance was second only to cash in desirability

When asked about the relative value of high dollar items, we found (as expected) that bike frames were the most desired item. For the purposes of the survey, respondents were to assume the aggregate value of the items was the same. By that, we mean that if a frame costs $1,000 and a wheel set costs $500, they were to assume they received two wheel sets for each frame, so that the dollar amounts were equal.

We were pleased to see that among the “lower cost” products that clothing was the number one choice topping other products that were in the same price range.

When asked how athletes find sponsors we found that an overwhelming majority of them (over 73%) had to resort to cold calling or emailing them. Only one person in the survey said they were approached by sponsors.

We ended the survey by asking a free form question related to other ways we could help. The majority of the answers were related to cash in some way or another, but one response did stand out for us. The respondent made the following great comment:

“I have never received or been offered travel assistance. I never know whether to ask or not. Probably because no one really talks about their deals. I think it would be helpful for all to discuss this more openly than to hold our cards close to our chest. Companies would have an idea of relative "value" and what they need to offer and athletes would have a ballpark of what they could request.”

To us, this comment illustrated the fact that, as in their racing, professional triathletes generally go it alone in their sponsorship negotiations.  This dynamic creates an imbalance of knowledge that (in our opinion) isn't positive in the long run for anyone. 

So, the big question for us, is what to do next.  We'll certainly use this information to create more attractive sponsorship offers for our athletes, but is there a larger opportunity to do some good here???  It seems as if Professional Triathletes would benefit from greater sharing of information amongst themselves.  In addition, we'd think there might be a way to pool their buying power so that they lower some of their costs (i.e. hotel, airfare, car rental etc.).

We're going to solicit feedback from some of our friends in the industry and see if we come up with anything significant.  If we do, we'll definitely share.

Happy Training and Racing,

Your friends at Coeur