Known primarily for daily deals, Groupon, Inc. is finding a new type of deal in the sponsorship space.

The company in 2015 has signed a handful of new partnerships ranging from food festivals to motorsports tracks and technology conferences. Ties include the Austin Food + Wine Festival, New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, Chicagoland Speedway and MobileBeat mobile industry conference.

Groupon primarily uses sponsorship as a B2B platform to build exposure in front of current and potential merchant partners.

The company focuses on properties that complement its three top deal categories—food and drink; health, beauty and wellness; and leisure—with the goal of engaging merchants and shoppers in each category.

“Compared to traditional media, sponsorship allows us to dive deeper into niche audiences and connect with our customers in a way that ties us to a specific genre in an authentic way,” said Noelle Provencial, Groupon’s director of experiential marketing and events.

Groupon’s sponsorship of food and wine festivals “has provided unique ways for our sales teams to engage restaurant owners and chefs and has led to incremental business for the brand,” she said.

Consumers also play a key role in Groupon’s sponsorship strategy.

“Sponsorship allows us to have quality in-person interaction with consumers that we know will help build brand loyalty and keep them coming back to Groupon. Wherever possible, our sponsorships touch both consumers and merchants.”

Groupon evaluates sponsorship based on the following factors:  

  • Scalability
  • Audience makeup
  • Location
  • Brand exposure
  • Brand fit
  • Revenue potential

The company also uses sponsorship as an employee recruitment tool. “We support the engineering department with their recruitment efforts across the country.”

Groupon’s on-site presence varies from property to property. At some events the company takes a playful approach to brand assets such as port-a-potty signage, while at other events it creates on-site areas where chefs and restauranteurs can relax between cooking demonstrations and other activities.  

On the consumer front, Groupon has increased activation to promote its search capabilities. That includes the Groupon “Search Wall,” an adult version of the “Where’s Waldo?” game around which attendees look for items that can be found on Groupon.com.

Groupon’s sponsorship strategy has evolved over the past several years in terms of vetting potential partnerships. The company has doubled down on properties that draw attendees from multiple markets and has placed more focus on multiyear deals.

“We learn the most after one year of a partnership, and we love being able to adjust and optimize our plans for years two and three.”

Partners With Chicagoland Speedway On Exclusive Deal
Groupon this month announced a new partnership with the Chicagoland Speedway, around which the company will serve as the exclusive provider of the speedway’s new NASCAR Fantasy Camp experience.

The NASCAR Fantasy Camp offers behind-the-scenes access to experiences and events during the Chase for NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend in September. The experiences include reserved seating in NASCAR drivers meetings and a garage tour with NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace.

“NASCAR fans are a passionate fan base and we are always looking to provide unique purchasing opportunities to our subscribers. The partnership with Chicagoland Speedway allowed us to sell exclusive inventory through our channel that otherwise would not have been available, and provided us with media assets for branding inside the track,” said Mike Shaw, Groupon head of sports partnerships and business development lead.

Groupon Sponsorships