Four years after launching its first major sponsorship, Belk, Inc. continues to expand its sponsorship portfolio.

The department store chain —which operates roughly 300 stores in more than 16 states—focuses on three sponsorship platforms: college athletics, music and fashion.

The privately-held company this year is doubling down on music festivals and is expanding its involvement in college sports. 

On the music front, Belk has signed new partnerships with the National Folk Festival in Greensboro, N.C.; North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington; and Music Midtown in Atlanta.

Belk is the presenting sponsor of the National Folk Festival and North Carolina Azalea Festival.

On the sports front, the retailer will title the Sept. 3 Belk College Kickoff Game featuring the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and University of South Carolina Gamecock at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

The sponsorship adds to a portfolio that includes the Belk Bowl, Birmingham Bowl and the Southeastern Conference.

Fashion events include Baker Motor Company Charleston Fashion Week and the Belk Southern Designer Showcase, the latter of which the retailer owns.  

Sponsorship Objective: Engaging Consumers Where They Play
Belk uses sponsorship to support its southern-centric positioning by engaging consumers where they spend time.

“We’re using sponsorship to help build out our lifestyle brand positioning,” said Jon Pollack, Belk executive vice president of sales promotion, marketing and e-commerce.

The retailer has placed more focus on sponsorship due in part to the increasingly fragmented media landscape, he said.

“The media landscape has expanded exponentially, and consumers have so many choices. The one thing we know is where they spend time. If 100,000 people attend a football game or 50,000 attend a music festival, we want to be there.”

Belk targets married, working 35-to-55 year-old fashion-conscious females with HHI of $75,000 or more.

Belk this year is promoting its sponsorship portfolio under the “Road South” marketing campaign. The campaign includes a web site that offers information about sponsored events, a sweepstakes to the CMA Music Festival and information on the latest styles for sports, music and fashion.

Belk activates music festivals with performances by sponsored amateur musicians.

One growing area of focus: mobile and social platforms. Belk activates Charleston Fashion Week with fashion bloggers who post festival-centric content on the retailer’s social media platforms.

“We continue to build a lifestyle platform that incorporates everything that we love about the South and gets us in front of consumers where they spend time and where their passion resides.”