New study by Research Now reveals the impact of the Olympics on sponsors and consumers, and how digital media will play a role

Research Now’s comprehensive study of consumer views of the 2012 Olympics reveals that sponsorship may not be a goldmine for brands after all. The digital data collection provider surveyed 7200 respondents across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia to find that many consumers are confused about which companies are official Olympic sponsors, and that some are “inappropriate”.

Key findings:

The younger generation is more likely to think of the Olympics as a waste of money; in the UK, 25% of 16 – 34 year olds expressed this opinion.
There is great misconception about which brands are official sponsors. More than half of the consumers surveyed across all six markets wrongly believe that Nike is an official sponsor.
The statement, “I don’t understand why this company is an Olympic sponsor,” is most applied to McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.
Not surprisingly, being the host country increases public engagement. 28% of Brits plan on watching more than 30 hours of the Olympics, which is more than any other national group polled.
Survey reveals low awareness, confusion and criticism for Worldwide Olympic Partners

According to the survey, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa and Samsung all scored high awareness (over 90%) among respondents across all six countries. On the contrary, respondents reported less familiarity with brands such as GE, Omega, Procter & Gamble, Dow and Atos; where respondents from the US and Canada were twice as likely as those from the UK, France and Germany to be familiar with GE and Procter & Gamble.

Also scoring high on awareness, brands that are associated with images of athleticism and sport are being confused as Olympic sponsors. When asked a question designed to reveal which companies are perceived to have a sponsorship role in this year’s Olympics, 60% of American respondents and 67% of French respondents indicated that Nike is a sponsor. Additionally, 49% of all French respondents indicated that Evian is a sponsor, while 21% of British respondents indicated that Red Bull is a sponsor. Furthermore, despite not having anything to do with sports, major brands such as Microsoft and Google are falsely seen in the eyes of Brits (14% surveyed) as sponsors.

According to respondents, Coca-Cola, Visa and Samsung are the top three most appropriate sponsors for the Games. And of the eleven global sponsors, respondents reported Coca-Cola as being the most typical.

At the same time, however, both McDonald’s and Coca-Cola come under fire because of growing concerns about selling products that may be linked to obesity and health problems. More than twice the number of Brits as Americans indicated they don’t see a correlation between McDonald’s (46% of Brits vs. 21% of Americans) and Coca-Cola (28% of Brits vs. 11% of Americans), and the Games. Furthermore, 62% of respondents overall reported that, of the Olympic sponsors, they would buy from none of them.

Satellite and cable rule

Despite the explosion of digital media, satellite and cable television will be the most popular way to follow the Olympics. When asked which medium respondents plan on using to access coverage of the events, 64% overall indicated satellite and cable TV as their preferred method, followed by newspapers (43%), radio (31%) and news websites (31%). According to the survey, 21% of respondents overall plan on watching 1 – 5 hours, while 15% plan on watching 6 – 9 hours or 10 – 15 hours, 10% plan on watching 16 – 20 hours, and 7% of respondents overall plan on watching over 30 hours. Due largely to being the host city, 28% of all British respondents indicated they will watch more than 30 hours of the Games; a figure that is almost double what it was with the Olympics in 2008, according to the survey.

The growth in new media channels has resulted in more ways to follow the Games. 21% of respondents surveyed say they plan to receive updates on Facebook, 11% will look to Twitter and other social networks, and 9% will utilize mobile apps. As can be expected, following the Games through social media will be most important for younger demographics. More than a third (36%) of those who plan on using Facebook and 12% of those who plan on using Twitter to follow the Games are 16 – 34 years old. 31% of those planning to use sports websites are male compared to 15% of women polled. Furthermore, the survey revealed that the majority of all respondents plan to watch the Games with family (68%) and friends (39%). Watching the games in a pub, bar or restaurant is most popular with Americans (13%) and Brits (11%), as compared to German (7%) and French (5%) respondents. The survey also found that Canadians are more likely than the other national groups to watch the Olympics on their own (20%).

Inspiration to get active

While 59% of respondents overall indicated there are more important things in life than sports, a large amount of respondents enjoy watching live sports, with the highest popularity in the US (76%) and Australia (70%). Furthermore, only 19% (the majority being the younger generation) regard the Olympics as a waste of money. However, when asked if the Olympics would inspire an interest in sports, overall 36% agreed and 32% indicated no effect.

56% of German respondents reported they participate regularly in sports, topping the additional five countries. 46% overall indicated they will become more interested in sports because of the Olympics, and 35% indicated the Olympics will inspire them to be more active. This positive impact is greatest in the US (44%). The study also shows that, for two-thirds of those surveyed, an interest in sport does not depend upon a major event. 28% of Australians and Brits, 29% of Americans and 33% of Canadians say they are only interested in sports when there is a major event. In contrast, 42% of all German respondents and 43% of all French respondents agree that their interest in sports depends upon an important event.

Who will win the Games?

When asked which country will finish first overall in the London Olympics, 65% of all 7200 respondents surveyed predict that it will be the US, followed by China (13%), the UK (5%) and Russia (4%). When surveyed about which team they support most, it is no surprise that respondents across all six countries give patronage to their own national team.

About the methodology

Research Now surveyed 7200 consumers aged 16 and over who acknowledged that they would be watching at least some of the Olympic Games this year. The survey was conducted online via Research Now’s proprietary Valued OpinionsTMPanel and social media sample. The 7200 interviews were conducted globally between 7th June and 18th June 2012 – with 1200 interviews conducted per the following six markets: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. To ensure a safe and robust sample, quotas were set to population statistics across all six markets. Incidence was roughly 78%, with slight fluctuations among France and Germany.

About Research Now

Research Now, the leading digital data collection provider, powers market research insights. We enable companies to listen to and interact with the world’s consumers and business professionals through online panels, as well as mobile and social media technologies. Our team operates in 24 offices globally and is recognised as the market research industry’s leader in client satisfaction. We foster a socially responsible culture by empowering our employees to give back. To find out more or begin a conversation with us, visit

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