I was cruising through the USMS site looking for something and noticed an article on the front page about the benefits of masters swimming to sponsors. It had some nuggets of information that I thought were pretty interesting and got my wheels turning a little bit:
U.S. Masters swimmers in regard to gender are practically an even split (52.9 percent male, 47.1 percent female). More than 95 percent of U.S. Masters swimmers have a college degree or higher. 82.3 percent of U.S. Masters swimmers own their own home. Each year U.S. Masters Swimming members purchase 134,820 swimsuits, 104,580 pairs of goggles and 100,380 pairs of sneakers. 70 percent of Masters swimmers report that they consciously buy brands that support activities, organizations and interests that are important to them.
So basically masters swimmers are smart, loaded, loyal consumers that are very healthy and have a tendency to stick with the organization into their 80′s and 90′s. This is why I’ve always been surprised that you don’t see more aggressive marketing and sponsorship at events. Not that I am necessarily looking to be aggressively marketed to mind you, but you’d think we’re an ideal group to go after. Yet most people have never even heard of us. A good number of swimmers have never even heard of us! Nobody really enjoys being marketed to but I would venture to say that more sponsors would be good for the sport. It would allow for USMS to afford more outreach to grow the membership base. Plus a lot of teams and pools that this sport needs to survive could use the cash infusion from strong sponsors and an increased interest from competitors.
If you’ve done a 5k run, organized bike rides, or other events like that take a minute and think about all the logos screen printed on the back of your free race t-shirt… it’s loaded with local businesses and major corporate sponsors right? Now grab a t-shirt from an open water race or a major swim meet, there’s probably a whole lot of difference. I really think swimming is a missed opportunity for businesses looking to sponsor community events. Why would you pass up someone that is willing to spend $500 on a swimsuit they can only use a handful of times for someone that might spend $100 on a pair of shoes they can use daily for months? And yet there isn’t exactly a line around the block to sponsor swim meets that draw hundreds of people to town. I’ve probably spent upwards of $3000 for swim gear, meet entries, gym membership, hotels, and travel since August… and I know there are folks out there that drop way more than that to pursue their interest in this sport. With the right support I think we could see even more growth in swimming that lasts past the Olympics inspired spike in interest.
I’ll be curious to see how USMS advances its profile with sponsorships now that they’ve employed a new executive director with roots in NASCAR (who I spotted at the SPMA Champs this weekend). I’m waiting to see guys in free LZR’s covered in Tide and Viagra logos :)
I really hope swimming can find a way to sell itself and get more people involved. The infrastructure required for swimming is hugely expensive and if we don’t get more people swimming we’ll start to lose pools and aquatics facilities because cities can’t afford them in these tough economic times.