If recent deals are any indication of future activity, properties will have a range of categories to choose from when prospecting sponsors in 2018.

Categories as diverse as flavored water, e-commerce and identity services have all increased sponsorship activity in 2017, and are expected to maintain their deal-making momentum in the New Year and beyond.

Below, ten of those categories that represent solid prospects in the upcoming year.

Alcohol Delivery Services
Alcohol delivery services is one of the newest segments of the on-demand delivery category using sponsorship.

Drizly this year leveraged its partnership with the Boston Red Sox with the “Drizly Home Run,” a season-long promotion that offered legal drinking age consumers the chance to win a VIP Green Monster viewing experience, Red Sox tickets and surprise visits from Red Sox legends during their Drizly order delivery.

The Boston-based company connects consumers with local alcohol retailers, allowing consumers to shop for beer, wine and spirits from their smartphones and desktops. The service is available in more than 40 markets in North America, from Austin to Boston, Calgary to Tampa and New York City to Denver.

Other companies in the on-demand alcohol delivery category include Klink, Instacart, Minibar Delivery, Swill and Thirstie.

Sponsorship Hot Buttons:

  • Build awareness
  • Drive app downloads
  • Drive sales

Car-sharing Services
Automobile manufacturers are increasingly launching car share services, and nearly every company is using sponsorship to promote its car share brand.

General Motors and BMW both launched car share services in 2016 (Maven and ReachNow, respectively), while Daimler AG launched its car2go service in the U.S. market in 2010.

And other companies are entering the car share space, with each offering their own take on on-demand mobility.

Ford in 2016 acquired Chariot, a San Francisco-based company that operates an on-demand shuttle service, while Cadillac this year launched BOOK by Cadillac, a luxury vehicle subscription service.

The companies—most of which operate as start-ups within their parent organizations—are increasingly using sponsorship to educate consumers about one-way car sharing and sign up new users, with more deals expected in 2018.

Sponsorship Hot Buttons:

  • Engage urban Millennials
  • Educate consumers about one-way car sharing
  • Gain new members

Digital Health
While questions over the status of U.S. healthcare reform has dampened enthusiasm for sponsorship in the health insurance category, other segments of the healthcare category continue to move forward.

One active segment: digital health.

While digital health companies come in many different forms, they all share one common bond: the use of technology to increase access to care and improve outcomes. The category includes both B2B and B2C companies, with both sectors using sponsorship to promote their offerings.

Sharecare this year announced a multiyear partnership with the Atlanta Hawks that affords a branded patch on the team’s jersey. The deal is reportedly the Hawks’ largest sponsorship behind its Philips Arena naming rights deal.

Sharecare touts itself as a company that “helps people manage all their health in one place” via a personalized central platform. Users can use the platform to access health and wellness solutions and communicate with physicians.

Sharecare is working with the Hawks on pop-up health engagements, co-branded digital and social campaigns, a branded area in the Philips Arena where fans who engage in healthy activities will be rewarded with free seats, healthy food options and co-created ergonomic chairs for the Hawks bench.

The digital health market is expected to grow at a 26 percent compound annual growth rate to $379 billion by 2024, per Global Market Insights.

Sponsorship Hot Buttons:

  • Educate consumers about healthcare options
  • Promote health and wellness message
  • Reward consumers who engage in healthy activities

E-commerce
Alibaba, Amazon and other e-commerce companies are increasingly using sponsorship to build their brands, tap new markets and drive growth. Emarketer expects U.S. e-commerce sales to grow 16 percent to $453 billion in 2017, with further growth expected in 2018.

Nearly every major company expanded its sponsorship portfolio in 2017, with a focus on sports. Ties include Alibaba and the International Olympic Committee; Amazon and Tough Mudder; and Rakuten and the Golden State Warriors and the NBA.

Rukuten in 2017 also kicked off a four-year shirt sponsorship with FC Barcelona.

In addition to representing a new source for sponsorship revenue, ecommerce companies can bring two other valuable benefits to the table: global reach and a new sales channel.

Amazon leverages Tough Mudder with a dedicated storefront that features exclusive content and the sale of sponsor products. Those include pre-event training aids (Vega pre-workout energizers, etc.), event-day comfort (Coppertone sun screen, etc.) and post-event recovery (Nexcare bandages, etc.)

Alibaba will leverage the IOC with a dedicated e-commerce platform where fans can purchase licensed merchandise and other products.

Sponsorship Hot Buttons:

  • Build visibility in new markets
  • Showcase breadth of product and service offerings
  • Access and monetize proprietary content
  • Showcase technology platforms

Flavored Water
Growing demand for healthy food options, new product launches and low degree of product differentiation is driving increased sponsorship activity in the flavored water category.

The global flavored and functional water market is expected to grow at a 11.5 percent compound annual growth rate between 2013 and 2019, reaching a valuation of $36.7 billion by 2019, according to Transparency Market Research.

In one of the largest deals in the category, Hint Inc. this year signed a multiyear partnership with AEG that affords official flavored water status at 12 music venues in Boston, Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco.

Sponsored venues include The Sinclair (Boston), The Shrine Auditorium (Los Angeles), Music Hall of Williamsburg (New York) and The Warfield (San Francisco).

Sponsorship Hot Buttons:

  • Gain on-site sales rights
  • Gain on-site sampling rights
  • Gain platforms for retail promotions
  • Promote health and wellness message
  • Promote signature drinks

On-demand Food Delivery
On-demand food delivery services are developing a taste for sponsorship. And they’re growing hungrier by the day.

Companies ranging from Caviar to Waitr are doubling down on sponsorship to gain a point of differentiation in an increasingly competitive category.

The companies are partnering with nearly every type of property ranging from professional sports teams to music festivals and gay pride events.

Deals include Waitr and the Sloss Music & Arts Festival; Deliveroo and Pride in London; and Just Eat and The X Factor, Triathlon Ireland and the Dublinbikes bike share service.

And additional deals are expected as the category continues to grow. McKinsey & Co. expects online food delivery to grow 25 percent per year from 2015 to 2018, after which it will taper off to roughly 15 percent per year through 2020.

Sponsorship Hot Buttons:

  • Drive app downloads
  • Showcase breadth of product offering
  • Drive sales

Peer-to-Peer Car-sharing Services
In addition to business-to-consumer car share services (Maven, ReachNow, etc.), properties should also keep an eye on the category’s other segment: peer-to-peer companies.

The P2P car share category includes GetAround, Turo and other companies that let vehicle owners rent their cars when not in use.

While the P2P category has fewer players than its B2C counterpart, and presumably smaller marketing budgets, properties should not discount the category.

GetAround—the category’s most active sponsor—has sponsored a handful of community events over the past year including two food festivals in the Windy City—Baconfest Chicago and Ribfest Chicago.

Sponsorship Hot Buttons:

  • Engage urban Millennials
  • Educate consumers about peer-to-peer car sharing
  • Acquire new members

Property Restoration Services
While it may not be the most glamorous category, a growing number of properties are finding success with disaster recovery and property restoration services.

Recent deals include pro sports teams, sanctioning bodies and sports and entertainment venues.

In one of the category’s newest deals, Belfor Property Restoration recently announced a multiyear partnership with AEG that includes official partner designation with the LA Kings and AXS TV and official restoration partner status of the Staples Center in Los Angeles and T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

And other property restoration companies are also signing deals.

ServiceMaster in March announced a multiyear partnership with Minor League Baseball that affords exclusive designation across seven of the holding company’s brands. Those include ServiceMaster Restore (disaster recovery), ServiceMaster Clean (commercial cleaning), American Home Shield (home warranty) and Merry Maids (home cleaning).

Sponsorship Hot Buttons:

  • Build brand recognition
  • Gain business from properties, cosponsors and other stakeholders
  • Engage franchisees
  • Engage employees
  • Promote community positioning

Security Screening
Companies that market security screening systems are increasingly using sponsorship to promote their wares and gain new business.

The category can be split into two sub-categories: identity services and product manufacturers.

The identity screening category includes IdentoGO, Clear and other companies that provide identity services, while the security product category includes Rapiscan Systems and other companies that make baggage inspection machines and other products.

Both categories are active sponsors. IdentoGO recently launched a new sponsorship push in professional sports with ties to the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers, while Rapiscan this month announced a new three-year title sponsorship of the PGA Tour Champions event in Biloxi, Miss.

Each category has its own sponsorship obectives. Identity services firms typically use sponsorship to promote their services and drive sign-ups for identity service programs (i.e., IdentoGO looks to drive enrollment in the Transportation Security Administration’s TSA Pre✓ program), while security product manufacturers look to showcase their offerings and gain business from sponsored properties.

Sponsorship Hot Buttons:

  • Educate consumers about security services
  • Drive enrollment in identity services
  • Gain business from sponsored properties

Shared Workspaces
The growing use of shared workspaces is driving new sponsorship opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscape.

The category includes a mix of national, regional and local companies—most of which have limited recognition outside the entrepreneur, technology and real estate communities—with additional operators seemingly popping up every day.

Companies include Grind, Serendipity Labs, Union Cowork, WeWork and The Yard.

And at least two companies are using sponsorship, with more expected to follow.

WeWork, one of the larger players in the category, has sponsored a handful of properties over the past year. Ties include Atlanta’s A3C Music Festival & Conference and Brooklyn, N.Y.’s SummerScreen outdoor music and film series, around which the company sponsored a screening of Office Space.

The Yard, meanwhile, sponsored Brooklyn’s Northside Festival, an eight-day showcase of film, food, ideas and entrepreneurship.

Sponsorship Hot Buttons:

  • Acquire new members
  • Gain perks for existing members
  • Gain business from cosponsors and other stakeholders