Purpose a lead trend among sponsors

ESG, sustainability and purpose was named as the top sponsorship trends for 2023 by members of the European Sponsorship Association (ESA). ‘2023 Sponsorship Trends Research: A Look Ahead’, written by Sophie Morris FCIM and now released to ESA members, features contributions from Core Sponsorship and England’s Football Association (FA).

The results were drawn from an annual survey of ESA members where they were asked to predict the top three sponsorship trends in 2023. Jill Downey (above), chief sustainability and sponsorship officer at Core Sponsorship, said sustainability was key, along with digital transformation, cost-of-living crisis, recruitment and supply chain issues.

However, Downey added, they don’t necessarily translate very easily into sponsorship and sponsorship activation the way sustainability and ESG do. Brand owners want to tell their story and partner with powerful rights holders and  the world of sport and entertainment to see what they can do to effect change and tell a positive story under that banner of ESG.


One of four ‘new entries’ in the top five is measurement, and another is women’s sport, reflecting the sector’s growth as a valuable sponsorship property. Kelly Simmons, director of the women’s professional game at the FA, said research by Two Circles showed that the value of women’s sport is expected to be worth £1 billion by 2030, with huge growth in audiences.

“There’s a great piece of work that UEFA have done around the value of women’s football in Europe, and in the next 10 years that’s estimated to be nearly £750m,” Simmons added. “Women’s sport around Europe is estimated to have around 144 million fans and that’s due to grow to over 300 million.” ESA’s mission is to inspire, unite and grow sponsorship.

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