Breaking into the equestrian market: why you should sponsor a rider

The equestrian market is big business. According to the British Equestrian Trade Association’s National Equestrian Survey 2019 there are 27 million people in Britain with an interest in horses, and the industry is worth £4.7 billion per year.

What’s more, equestrian fans are affluent. A report by Defra found that 35% are in the AB social group, which is upper middle and middle class. They are also brand-loyal and love their luxuries – whether it’s for their horses, or themselves.

Little surprise then, that a growing number of brands want to get involved in the equestrian market. But how can you access this audience if you don’t have an equestrian brand?

This is the question we will tackle in our new series of blogs. It contains everything you need to know about building your brand in this exciting market and reaching its affluent audience.

Sponsor a rider

In the first in our series, we take a look at why you should sponsor a rider – and how to do it.

Sponsorship has become an integral part of equestrianism. Riders need it to help fund their sport and brands need it to reach their audience. And with the rise of social media, it has never been easier for riders to promote their favourite products, and sponsors to share in their success.

There is also a benefit for equestrian fans. They want to know everything about their favourite riders – they want to wear the same clothes as them, drive the same car, and use the same equipment. So if you sponsor a rider you automatically win the trust of all their followers.

So how do you go about finding the right rider?

Set goals

It’s important to decide why you want to sponsor a rider and what you hope to get out of it. Is it to increase sales, build your brand, reach out to a target audience or drive more traffic to your website?

Once you have a clear idea of your goals, you can create a sponsorship campaign that will help you achieve them.

For example, if you are pushing a new product it’s a good idea to partner up with a rider that has strong presence on social media. A massive 88% of the customers trust word-of-mouth advertising from people they know or admire.

It’s a match!

Sponsoring a rider isn’t always about finding the biggest winner or highest earner. Obviously, if you can afford it, partnering up with the likes of Charlotte Dujardin or Piggy French, will do wonders for your profile. But just because they are at the top of their sport, doesn’t mean they are right for your brand.

It’s important you pick a rider who represents your company values and also the interests of your customer. If your market is teenage girls, then find an up-and-coming young rider to inspire them, while women in their forties are more likely to relate to more established, older riders.

Influencer marketing

As discussed above, World of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) is big business.

According to a survey from Nielsen only 33% of consumers trust adverts, while 90% follow recommendations from their peers. And the best place to get likes and followers is on social media.

Find a rider who is an influencer, and you will gain exclusive access to their loyal followers.

Get talking

Word of mouth isn’t just about sitting on social media. Attend events and competitions where you can talk to riders, and get a feel for the sport.

They are a friendly bunch, and love talking about their passion. So ask competitors and spectators who their favourite riders are – who inspires them, who they relate to, who they follow on social media and why.

Get real

While we love looking at beautiful photos of beautiful people on Instagram, horsey people are a down to earth bunch.

Give them a story about triumph over adversity – or just adversity over adversity ­– and you will win their hearts!

A great example is Wimpy Eventer, run by Victoria Brant. Her whole appeal is that she makes mistakes, she gets scared, but she keeps trying. She has more than 13,000 followers on Instagram because riders can relate to her. Okay, so Charlotte Dujardin has more than 300,000! But engaging with a few thousand devoted followers can be far better for your brand than a broad pool, where you will get lost in the noise.

In our next blog we will be looking at the next big step in sponsorship – buying a horse for a rider. It’s an exciting, but expensive pursuit!

In the meantime, if you want more advice on your equestrian marketing please get in touch.