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Rugby League Dominates Aussie Non-Alcoholic Beverage Sponsorship Market


Rugby league has emerged as the most lucrative market for non-alcoholic beverage brands involved in sports sponsorship in the APAC region in 2023, according to a recent study by GlobalData.

The report, titled “APAC Non-Alcoholic Beverages Sports Sponsorship Landscape, 2023,” reveals that rugby league generated US$14.88 million (€13.55 million) in sponsorship revenue this year, constituting 17.9% of the annual sector spend within APAC. Australian football followed closely with an annual sponsorship revenue of US$11.55 million (€10.52 million).

Collectively, non-alcoholic beverage brands amassed US$83.09 million (€75.80 million) in sports sponsorship revenue in APAC during 2023.

Joe Pacinella, a sports analyst at GlobalData, highlighted, “Football is still the most popular market for non-alcoholic beverage brands in APAC, but it is rugby league that proves to be the most lucrative, as evidenced by the National Rugby League’s (NRL) huge US$8.5 million-a-year deal (€7.74 million) with Asahi Lifestyle Beverages.”

The NRL’s deal with Asahi stands as the largest single APAC deal within the sector, surpassing FIBA’s US$5 million-a-year deal (€4.55 million) with T Power, a brand under Zhongwo, which has significant involvement in basketball, a widely popular sport domestically.

Asahi Lifestyle Beverages, with an estimated annual spending of US$15.97 million (€14.57 million), emerges as the top spender in the sector within APAC. The brand, with 22 deals in the region, primarily invests in Australian football and allocates $9.19 million (€8.37 million) annually to rugby league.

Coca-Cola secures the second spot among the biggest spenders in the region, with an annual spend of US$14.81 million (€13.50 million). Pacinella noted, “The brand [Coca-Cola] is very well known globally and intends to dominate local markets within different sports, focusing mainly on soccer, rugby league, rugby union, baseball, motor racing, golf, and cricket.”

“The brand’s 41 deals emphasise their commitment to sports sponsorship, especially as a way of increasing brand exposure and visibility.”

Among the top five spenders in APAC, two brands are from the US, one from Australia, one from China, and one from the Netherlands, the study revealed. APAC-based brands contributed US$47.12 million (€42.89 million) to the total spending within the sector, representing more than half the total amount in the non-alcoholic beverages segment.

Pacinella emphasised, “As rugby league and Australian football are the most popular sports within the APAC region, it makes sense for non-alcoholic beverage brands to invest in these sports to take advantage of the regional exposure it brings, especially for localised brands.”

“Football remains as the most popular sport for brands to invest in, but not the most lucrative, indicating a need for APAC-based brands to change their sponsorship strategy and apply their presence to the interests of sport fans across the Asia-Pacific, much like Asahi Lifestyle Beverages, which are dominant in both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage sector.”

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