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Volume 21 No. 26
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Cheers! Beer, vodka boost PGA Tour results

Three quarters of the PGA Tour’s official sponsors increased their category-leading market shares this year, according to the tour’s ninth Sponsor Loyalty survey, conducted recently for SportsBusiness Journal by Turnkey Sports & Entertainment.

And booze helped lead the way.

Thirty percent of the 400 fans surveyed correctly identified Michelob Ultra as the tour’s official beer, the brand’s best showing since garnering a 32 percent recognition rate in our inaugural survey in 2008. The Anheuser-Busch product has been the tour’s official beer since 1994. The beer’s 2017 awareness level also represented a survey-best increase of more than eight percentage points compared to our 2016 study.

Thirty percent of golf fans pegged Michelob Ultra as a PGA Tour sponsor, its best result since 2008.
Photos by: GETTY IMAGES

More than a third of casual fans can identify Grey Goose as a PGA Tour partner.
The sponsor loyalty survey series debuted in 2007 and includes annual studies of Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL, NHL, NASCAR, MLS and NCAA fans. The PGA Tour study is put in the field during the final two weeks of the FedEx Cup.

Beer was not the only alcohol to resonate with golf fans.

More than a third of the casual fans in the study correctly identified Grey Goose as the tour’s official vodka, the highest rate the brand has received among those fans in the six years that we’ve tracked the category. The Bacardi brand signed on as the tour’s official spirit in 2013 and has gone from a dead heat in 2012 with Smirnoff, its closest competitor in the study, to a mindshare of more than double the Russian brand (see chart below).

How They Stack Up

Here's how PGA Tour partners' recognition rates compare to their sponsorships of other properties in our most recent studies. Not all categories are tracked across all leagues. Response rates indicate the percentage of people polled who thought that the particular company or brand was the property's official sponsor in that category.

Coca-Cola
Property (partner since) Recognition rate
NASCAR (1998) 51.8%
NCAA (2002) 49.0%
MLS (2015) 52.5%
PGA Tour (2002) 34.3%
MLB (2017) 21.3%
Bridgestone
Property (partner since) Recognition rate
NHL (2007) 35.5%
PGA Tour (2006) 30.6%
Anheuser-Busch
Property (partner since) Recognition rate
MLB (1980) 48.8%
NBA (1998) 32.5%
PGA Tour (1994) 30.0%
MasterCard
Property (partner since) Recognition rate
MLB (1997) 35.5%
PGA Tour (1995) 26.0%

For the eighth straight year, FedEx was the most likely of the 71 brands that were measured to be identified as a sponsor, with an overall recognition rate this year of 59 percent. The PGA Tour and FedEx in May signed a 10-year sponsorship renewal of the FedExCup title sponsorship. The deal, which runs through 2027, is double the length of the previous five-year extension signed in 2012.

But there were some soft spots in this year’s study results.

Mastercard had its best year ever among avid fans, as a third of the respondents in that segment were aware of the brand’s official partnership. However, the brand was topped by American Express for the third straight year among casual fans, and AmEx took over the top spot in the category. Visa also posted an overall increase of five percentage points (see chart).

Methodology
For this project, Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, through its Turnkey Intelligence operation, conducted national consumer research surveys among a sample of 400 members of the Toluna Online panel who were at least 18 years old. This year’s survey was conducted Sept. 19-Oct. 6, a period just after the year’s last FedEx Cup playoff event, the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola. The 2016 survey was conducted during the same period.

Respondents were analyzed based on their general avidity levels. Fans categorized as “avid” were those who responded “4” or “5” to the question “How big a fan are you of the PGA Tour?” then claimed to “look up scores several times a week or more often,” “watch/listen/attend at least 11 tournaments per season” and “have a favorite player.” Fans categorized as “casual” responded “3” to the same initial question, then claimed to “look up scores several times a month or more often,” “watch/listen/attend at least three tournaments per season” and “have a favorite player.”

When asked to identify official sponsors, respondents selected from a field of companies and brands that was provided to them for each business sector. Only the top-scoring companies and brands are listed in the results published here.

The percentage responses listed have been rounded. The margin of error for each survey is +/- 4 percentage points.

Turnkey works with more than 70 retainer-based clients across the major professional leagues in North America, but none is directly affiliated with the PGA Tour.

Impact on Sampling and Support

Seventy-eight percent of avid PGA Tour fans say they would support a company by purchasing its products/services if the company is an official sponsor of the tour. Only MLS (83 percent) and NASCAR (81 percent) have a higher level of support.

Are you more or less likely to consciously support a company by purchasing its products/services if the company is an official sponsor of the PGA Tour?

  Avid Casual
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
More likely 78% 76% 74% 47% 53% 36%
Unaffected or less likely 22% 24% 37% 53% 45% 64%

Are you more or less likely to consider trying a product/service if that product/service is an official sponsor of the PGA Tour?

  Avid Casual
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
More likely 75% 76% 65% 49% 53% 34%
Unaffected or less likely 25% 24% 35% 51% 47% 67%

Are you more or less likely to recommend a product/service to a friend or family member if that product/service is an official sponsor of the PGA Tour?

  Avid Casual
  2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
More likely 77% 74% 61% 49% 49% 36%
Unaffected or less likely 23% 26% 39% 51% 51% 65%

Holding Their Liquor

The six-year trend of what fans identify as the official PGA Tour vodka sponsor.

Vodka 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Grey Goose* 13.8% 12.5% 21.1% 23.3% 21.7% 28.5%
Smirnoff 13.5% 8.0% 8.3% 11.5% 16.7% 13.0%

* PGA Tour sponsor


Still Priceless?

Mastercard maintains its lead among avid PGA Tour fans, but American Express has overtaken it among casual fans.

  Avid Casual
Credit Card 2008 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2008 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Mastercard* 17.1% 27.3% 30.3% 29.0% 31.0% 27.8% 30.0% 28.4% 32.5% 20.9% 21.6% 20.5% 24.0% 14.5% 17.9% 16.0% 23.9% 19.5%
American Express 36.0% 24.4% 20.7% 17.0% 20.5% 17.2% 21.0% 22.9% 19.5% 31.6% 26.1% 30.5% 19.0% 21.5% 16.9% 22.0% 28.4% 33.0%
Visa 13.5% 24.4% 21.7% 20.0% 17.0% 18.7% 16.0% 17.9% 24.0% 9.2% 16.6% 14.0% 15.5% 15.5% 15.4% 16.0% 14.4% 18.5%

* PGA Tour sponsor


Which of the following is an official sponsor of the PGA Tour?

  Avid Casual
SHIPPING
  2015 2016 2017 2015 2016 2017
FedEx* 58.5% 53.7% 63.0% 43.5% 47.3% 54.0%
UPS 14.5% 8.5% 13.5% 8.5% 10.4% 12.0%
U.S. Postal Service 9.5% 12.9% 9.5% 7.0% 6.0% 5.5%
I'm not sure 16.0% 17.9% 10.5% 39.0% 35.8% 28.0%
  Avid Casual
SOFT DRINK
  2015 2016 2017 2015 2016 2017
Coca-Cola* 39.0% 36.8% 40.5% 23.0% 32.8% 28.0%
Pepsi 17.0% 20.4% 23.0% 15.0% 26.4% 29.0%
I'm not sure 33.0% 24.9% 20.0% 53.0% 34.3% 32.0%
  Avid Casual
TIRE
  2015 2016 2017 2015 2016 2017
Bridgestone* 38.0% 31.3% 33.5% 24.5% 29.9% 29.0%
Goodyear 10.5% 17.4% 19.5% 10.5% 14.4% 13.0%
Michelin 6.5% 10.0% 10.5% 7.0% 9.5% 10.0%
Firestone 13.5% 11.9% 15.0% 6.0% 5.0% 8.0%
I'm not sure 24.0% 21.9% 14.0% 46.5% 39.3% 37.5%
  Avid Casual
BEER
  2015 2016 2017 2015 2016 2017
Michelob Ultra* 27.5% 17.4% 32.0% 25.5% 25.9% 28.0%
Miller Lite 7.5% 10.0% 11.0% 3.0% 7.5% 12.5%
Coors Light 9.5% 10.4% 11.0% 3.5% 10.0% 7.0%
Heineken 7.0% 15.9% 9.0% 5.5% 7.5% 8.5%
Corona 4.5% 8.5% 9.0% 6.5% 7.0% 6.0%
I'm not sure 34.0% 25.9% 20.5% 52.0% 37.3% 35.0%
  Avid Casual
VODKA
  2015 2016 2017 2015 2016 2017
Grey Goose* 31.0% 17.9% 34.0% 15.5% 25.4% 23.0%
Smirnoff 13.0% 22.4% 14.5% 10.0% 10.9% 11.5%
Absolut 5.5% 5.5% 9.5% 2.5% 8.5% 4.0%
Ketel One 6.0% 7.0% 4.5% 1.0% 1.5% 3.5%
I'm not sure 35.5% 31.8% 27.0% 62.0% 52.2% 52.0%
  Avid Casual
CREDIT CARD
  2015 2016 2017 2015 2016 2017
American Express 21.0% 22.9% 19.5% 22.0% 28.4% 33.0%
Mastercard* 30.0% 28.4% 32.5% 16.0% 23.9% 19.5%
Visa 16.0% 17.9% 24.0% 16.0% 14.4% 18.5%
I'm not sure 23.5% 15.4% 15.5% 39.0% 25.9% 24.5%
  Avid Casual
INSURANCE
  2015 2016 2017 2015 2016 2017
Metlife* 24.0% 26.4% 28.0% 17.0% 19.9% 15.0%
Aflac* 19.0% 16.4% 23.5% 11.5% 17.4% 16.0%
Geico 19.5% 22.4% 20.5% 13.0% 14.4% 17.5%
State Farm 18.0% 21.9% 21.5% 13.0% 13.9% 13.0%
Allstate 13.5% 18.9% 20.5% 12.0% 11.4% 13.0%
Travelers* 17.5% 11.9% 21.5% 13.5% 7.5% 6.0%
Nationwide 11.5% 10.0% 17.0% 13.5% 7.5% 8.5%
I'm not sure 24.0% 20.9% 13.0% 42.0% 37.3% 13.0%
  Avid Casual
INVESTMENT FIRM
  2015 2016 2017 2015 2016 2017
Charles Schwab* 27.0% 21.4% 29.0% 15.0% 23.4% 23.0%
E-Trade 13.5% 11.9% 16.0% 6.5% 5.5% 9.5%
Fidelity Investments 11.5% 12.9% 10.5% 9.0% 12.9% 11.5%
TD Ameritrade 4.5% 7.0% 10.0% 6.5% 6.5% 7.0%
Scottrade 8.5% 15.4% 6.5% 5.0% 4.5% 3.5%
I'm not sure 31.5% 23.9% 19.5% 54.5% 42.8% 42.5%
  Avid Casual
AIRLINE
  2015 2016 2017 2015 2016 2017
United* 21.5% 20.4% 27.0% 12.0% 19.4% 23.5%
American 12.0% 19.9% 15.5% 10.0% 16.9% 15.0%
Southwest 10.0% 9.5% 15.0% 7.0% 6.0% 9.5%
Delta 12.0% 13.4% 14.0% 8.0% 8.0% 9.0%
I'm not sure 35.5% 26.9% 19.5% 56.5% 46.3% 38.0%
  Avid Casual
HOME IMPROVEMENT STORE
  2015 2016 2017 2015 2016 2017
Home Depot NA 26.9% 38.0% NA 22.9% 28.5%
Ace Hardware* NA 19.4% 23.0% NA 17.4% 23.0%
Lowe's NA 18.4% 19.0% NA 12.9% 12.5%
Menards NA 4.5% 4.0% NA 4.0% 2.0%
I'm not sure NA 30.8% 16.0% NA 42.8% 34.0%
  Avid Casual
MORTGAGE COMPANY
  2015 2016 2017 2015 2016 2017
Quicken Loans* NA NA 56.5% NA NA 41.5%
Lending Tree NA NA 13.0% NA NA 10.5%
I'm not sure NA NA 14.5% NA NA 42.5%

* Official PGA Tour sponsor
^ Respondents were allowed to choose multiple responses.
NA: Not applicable, as the category was not tracked that year.