What Consumers are Thinking

Next week, at the sold-out SMCC Western Sponsorship Congress™ in Calgary, the 2012 Consumer Sponsorship Rankings (CSR 2012) highlights will be released. This proprietary subscription research study speaks live with over 1000 Canadians about sponsorship. It is not an online study, but rather a telephone survey with average Canadians. It does not ask people in the sponsorship industry what they think of sponsoring brands and companies or of the events and properties. It talks to average Canadians for about 10 minutes each to gather their thoughts and insights. It talks to the people whom sponsorship targets. It has conversations with the people who buy sponsors’ products and events, and properties’ tickets and programs.

The CSR 2012 clearly shows some trends. The telecommunications companies, financial institutions, and beverage companies owned the top ten list as the most recognized sponsors in Canada. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Molson, Air Canada, Ford, and surprisingly, TD led as the most supportive brands in their sector industries through unaided recall. Festivals, hockey, and cancer were seen as the most important and recognized events in Canada. Music festivals in Quebec topped the lists for music and cultural events, while the CNE and Stampede came in as a 1-2 punch after tying for the top spot in 2011. The Terry Fox Run followed by the Run for the Cure were identified as the top Canadian walks and runs. On the sports side, the Montreal Canadiens, Stanley Cup Hockey, and the Grey Cup topped the lists. Interestingly this year, auto racing and curling both dropped from their eye-opening levels of 2011.

Almost 70% of Canadians prefer to conduct business with brands that support the causes they support, while 53% feel the same about supporting brands that support their arts and cultural choices. But only 45%, or less than half of Canadians, will turn their dollars over to the brands that support their favorite sport or team. This ongoing trend shows that charities continue to be the most influential affinity opportunity for brands.

The CSR 2012 continues to show trending about consumers’ thoughts and feelings about sponsorship in Canada. As the single unprejudiced study of its kind, this research helps brands and sponsorship selling organizations to better understand the Canadian consumer. It allows them to build better events for participants and sponsors. It allows them to better understand how brands can activate and whom they should align with… or not.


  1. Happy to see 70% of Canadians prefer to conduct business with brands that support the causes they support. This matches with data we have from surveys of our customers which states 81% of customers support a utility company sponsoring community events, which has remained steady at 78-85% over the past nine years we have conducted this survey.

    On a personal note, as a Terry Fox Run supporter, I’m pleased to see they topped the list. This is considerable as the Terry Fox Run spends much less on promotion and has no ties to corporations, thus ensuring more funds (85 cents of every dollar) go to the cause they represent. It shows that grassroots is still a strong movement today.

  2. Tim,

    Thank you for your feedback. It is great to see that the CSR 2012 study (which is an impartial study) matches (or is close) with your own industry research. Many industries conduct their own research which is very important. This study in unprejudiced as it is not conducted or commissioned by a single industry or company. I know two other industries that have also conducted similar research, but again with focused questions about their industry and found similar results to the CSR 2011 and 2012 studies.

    The CSR 2012 also has done some industry specific study “drill down” work this year with a very detailed comparative and unprejudiced study into the financial industry, telecommunications industry, sports industry and charities and causes. There are some very interesting outcomes and this is where the Terry Fox Run rated so high.

    Thanks again for your thoughts and feedback. Brent


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