What categories are ramping up sponsorship? What companies represent good sponsorship prospects?

Below, ten categories that share one common trait: new sponsorship spending.

Health Insurance
With millions of consumers now required to purchase their products, insurers are increasingly using sponsorship to build preference and, like nearly every other segment of the health care category, encourage healthy lifestyles. And the category could soon be rocked by another major development: industry consolidation. In a move that will create the nation’s largest health care company, Anthem Inc. in 2015 announced plans to acquire Cigna Corp. in a $54 billion deal. Other pending mergers include Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. and Centene Corp. and Health Net, Inc.

Sponsorship hot buttons:

  • Promote health and wellness
  • Reach new audiences
  • Tout senior products
  • Support business relationships

Hospitals
Similar to health insurance, hospitals are increasingly using sponsorship to build awareness and drive preference in the wake of the Affordable Care Act and escalating health care costs. Increased competition has resulted in new partnerships with nearly every type of property as hospitals look to reach new audiences—and in many cases a broader audience—with their health message.

Sponsorship hot buttons:

  • Gain a point of differentiation
  • Reach new audiences
  • Promote healthy lifestyles
  • Demonstrate community involvement
  • Promote areas of expertise.

Digital Health
The ever-evolving health care industry continues to create new sponsorship opportunities for nearly every type of property. The newest segment jumping into the sponsorship waters: health technology. Companies ranging from Oscar (heath insurance) to Vitals (online health care shopping) are blazing a new trail by offering consumers new ways to access and manage health care. While the companies offer different products and services, they all share one common trait: the use of data and technology to improve health.

Sponsorship hot buttons:

  • Promote health and wellness
  • Gain one-on-one education/demonstration opportunities
  • Tout new product launches
  • Build visibility in new markets.

Smart Homes
As demonstrated by Philips’ new content-driven partnership with Live Nation Entertainment (Philips Hue), the growing ubiquity of the Internet of Things is driving new sponsorship activity on behalf of companies and products in the smart home ecosphere.  Nearly 20 percent of U.S. households with broadband connectivity had at least one smart home product at the end of 2015, according to Parks Associates. The research firm expects that number to grow to 66 percent by 2025.

Sponsorship hot buttons:

  • Demonstrate product functionality
  • Reach tech-savvy males.
  • Access platforms for retail promotions

Craft Beer
Move over Budweiser and Miller Lite. Consumers’ growing taste for alternative brews continues to shake up the beer category. Craft beer volume sales have soared 81 percent since 2009, according to Mintel, a London-based market research firm. Craft brewers captured 11 percent share of the U.S. beer market in 2014—the first time volume has reached the double digits, according to the Brewers Assn. Volume share of “popular beer” (Budweiser, Miller, etc.) has slid 17 percent over the past six years, including a four percent decline in 2014 alone.

Sponsorship hot buttons:

  • Build visibility
  • Gain on-site sales rights
  • Access sampling opportunities

Mobile Apps
Mobile apps spanning business, lifestyle and nearly every other category are increasingly using sponsorship to reach new audiences and personalize their brands. Recent deals include Shazam and the Manor Racing F1 team, Dockwa and the Newport International Boat Show, and Tinder and the Urban Mudder obstacle course series. Demonstrating the category’s growing use of sponsorship, Uber in 2015 joined the top-ten list of the most active companies sponsoring music festivals.

Sponsorship hot buttons:

  • Personalize brand through experiential marketing programs
  • Gain new business
  • Build brand visibility
  • Demonstrate product functionality

Casinos
Casinos large and small are signing new deals with sports teams, festivals and other properties to gain a point of differentiation amid the growing number of gambling options and gaming destinations. One primary factor behind the sponsorship surge: stagnant revenue. Pressured by market saturation and increased competition, annual gaming revenue at the 479 U.S. tribal casinos grew 0.5 percent to $28.3 billion in 2013, according to Casino City’s 2015 Indian Gaming Industry Report.

Sponsorship hot buttons:

  • Showcase gaming experience
  • Entertain high rollers
  • Drive out-of-market traffic
  • Promote restaurants and other non-gaming offerings

Paint Manufacturers
Looking to engage customers and mine business from rightsholders, paint manufacturers are expanding their portfolios like never before. B2B and B2C companies have signed a number of deals over the past two years ranging from soccer teams to PGA Tour events and motorsports leagues and teams. The sponsorships come amid a backdrop of increased competition and industry consolidation. Fueled by an 8.3 percent reduction in the cost of raw materials (namely oil), global paint sales rose 3.5 percent in 2015 to $128.2 billion, according to the World Paint & Coatings Industry Assn.

Sponsorship hot buttons:

  • Access hospitality for customers and prospects
  • Gain business from sponsored properties
  • Access IP for in-store promotions
  • Access content for social media promotions
  • Showcase product attributes

Kitchen and Bath Products
While it may not be the most exciting category, kitchen and bath product companies are increasingly using sponsorship to showcase their products and reach new audiences. Case in point: The Kohler Co. in 2015 partnered with the Bonnaroo music festival, while Delta teamed with the Warrior Dash obstacle course series. Product integration plays a key role in both deals. Delta activated Warrior Dash with shower stations equipped with Delta H20kinetic showerheads, while Kohler installed Kohler Moxie—a showerhead equipped with a Bluetooth-enabled wireless speaker—in Bonnaroo showers.

Sponsorship hot buttons:

  • Demonstrate product functionality
  • Promote product attributes
  • Drive social media conversations

College Savings Plans
College savings programs are aligning with pro sports teams, festivals, marathons and other types of events to talk up the benefits of tax-advantaged savings. Deals over the past year include the Virginia 529 College Savings Plan and the MCM Kids Run and New York’s 529 College Savings Program and New York City FC and Brooklyn Cyclones. The deals come amid growing popularity of college savings programs: Assets in 529 savings and prepaid tuition plans grew to a record $258.2 billion in the first half of 2015, according to the College Savings Plans Network. The average size reached an all-time high of $20,934, a 1.3 percent increase over the previous twelve months.

Sponsorship hot buttons:

  • Educate consumers about tax-advantaged savings
  • Partner with education-related programming
  • Engage parents and grandparents.