Do cricketers sell bats? - 10 May 2012
Recently the authoritative industry magazine, Sports Trader, conducted an interesting survey to establish whether the bat sponsorships of the current crop of Proteas players indeed help their sponsors to sell bats.
It is common knowledge in the industry that you have to “catch a customer young”. 250 cricketers from 29 schools across the country participated in the survey, of which just over 73% were primary school children. At this age cricketers have not yet developed a brand affinity and are therefore more susceptible to be influenced by cricket heroes.
Of the brands currently used by the respondents, Gunn & Moore (GM) came out tops with 22%. Kookaburra was second with 18%, followed by Gray-Nicolls and Bellingham & Smith (B&S) both 13% and Slazenger and Puma both 6%.
Asked which brands they aspired to, the results were slightly different. GM and Kookaburra were still ahead (23% and 20% respectively), and following them were Puma (10%), adidas (8%) and B&S (8%).
The most favourite players, in ranking order, with their percentage votes and bat sponsors in brackets were AB de Villiers (31%, Kookaburra), Jacques Kallis (22%, Slazenger), Hashim Amla (12%, BAS Vampire), Graeme Smith (9%, GM) and JP Duminy (5%, Gray-Nicolls). Overall among the Proteas 26,1% play with GM, 17,4% with Gray-Nicolls and 13% with B&S and BAS Vampire each.
These results throw up some interesting deductions:
• De Villiers’s brand pulling power must be massive. As the only national player sponsored by Kookaburra, it would be safe to assume he has singlehandedly given the Australian batmakers its second place.
• On the other hand, Kallis and Amla (respectively the second and third favourite player) are clearly not achieving the same results for Slazenger and BAS Vampire. Could it be that Kallis and Amla are just admired, but De Villiers both admired and aspirational..?
• Roughly speaking, one out of every five respondents play with GM but the most favourite GM player, Smith, gets the nod from only one out of every ten respondents. Smith therefore hasn’t given GM its dominant position. In this instance it could be ascribed to their omnipresence in the national side. Every team the Proteas put on the park has on average three GM-sponsored players. Bearing in mind you always bat in pairs, it means that between 50-60% of the time someone’s batting with a GM in his hands. That translates to an awful lot of free television exposure, especially in a test innings.
• Gray-Nicolls, a very traditional brand, features well in all categories except the aspirational brand. Would that still be the case if De Villiers played with a Gray-Nicolls? Why doesn’t sponsoring the second most Proteas players make them more attractive?
• The aspirational power of Puma and adidas is most definitely not built on a cricket reputation or the influence of any Proteas player. It must lie in their trendier, sexier appeal to the youth market. Which makes me wonder: Maybe Billabong or Levi Jeans will do well selling cricket bats!
Of course there are many other deductions that can be made from this data. However, focusing on the question whether Proteas players help batmakers sell bats in South Africa, the answer is an unequivocal “yes” in respect of De Villiers but I believe inconclusive for the rest.
(Source: Sports Trader, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp.44-48)