Engaging High-Net-Worth Audiences Through Sponsorship: A Delicate Balance of Values and Virtues

Engaging High-Net-Worth Audiences Through Sponsorship: A Delicate Balance of Values and Virtues

Reaching high-net-worth and even ultra-high-net-worth audiences is not particularly hard, but engaging them is where it gets tricky. Hundreds of brands spend millions of dollars in sponsorship fees each year seeking to generate brand awareness amongst this valuable audience, but what is awareness without engagement?

These discerning consumers, with their keen intellect and deep concern for societal issues, demand an approach that transcends traditional sponsorship and resonates on a profound level.

In this article, we delve into innovative strategies for engaging high-net-worth audiences through sponsorship, exploring how brands can authentically align with their values and create unforgettable experiences that leave a lasting impact.

Demonstrating Shared Values

The first step in engaging high-net-worth audiences through sponsorship is by demonstrating an authentic commitment to shared values and passions. As Michel Driessen, Head of EY’s art sponsorship programme, aptly puts it:

"Art holds immense importance for both our society and our organisation, and it's equally valued by our clients. For us, it's not about displaying our logo at the biggest exhibitions. Instead, it's about reflecting and demonstrating our core values through the art we support. This unique approach enables us to establish meaningful connections with many of our clients in a context outside of work and the office. When asked what clients associate with EY beyond our audit and consulting services, our dedication to the arts always comes back top of mind."

Brands that support causes aligned with their audience's values foster stronger connections and long-term loyalty. This alignment demonstrates authenticity, builds trust, and taps into emotional resonance, leading to deeper bonds with clients differentiating themselves and driving sustained loyalty.

Exclusive Experiences

Another effective way to engage high-net-worth individuals through sponsorship is by providing them with unique experiences that money can't buy. Dr. Thomas Girst, Global Head of Cultural Engagement at BMW Group, highlights the success of BMW's Opera For All events, stating:

“BMW’s Opera For All events brings thousands of people together in major squares around the world to listen to extraordinary achievements that human beings are capable of. As part of this, we go for dinner with 50 of our Seven Series Excellence Club members together with the Chief Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and some of its musicians. This is a unique experience available only to our members and it helps build long-term loyalty with these highly valued clients.”

While anyone can buy a ticket with enough money, sponsorship allows brands to create truly unique, money-can't-buy experiences for valued clients. By leveraging their position as sponsors, brands curate experiences that resonate deeply, leaving lasting impressions and often lifelong memories. This is especially important for high-net-worth individuals who are accustomed to purchasing the most expensive tickets but value something more—unique experiences that money alone cannot procure. These exclusive opportunities foster strong bonds with clients, enhancing loyalty and affinity in ways that traditional transactions cannot achieve.

Audience Filtering

While value-based partnerships are essential for connecting with high-net-worth audiences, brands wishing to target this group at scale must find ways to filter the audience to target the right individuals. Sport sponsorship remains a popular choice for engaging this audience in large volume, but it remains a mass market event. Sponsors must therefore be willing to accept that a large proportion of the reached audience will never be customers and be able to pay a premium for exclusivity. Most crucially however, brands engaging in this form of sponsorship must work hard to activate their partnerships in a way that filters the general fanbase and specifically targets the desired audience.

Qatar Airways' sponsorship of Formula 1, for example, targets high earners through an exclusive partnership centred around the Paddock Club hospitality area, ensuring that their sponsorship efforts are geared specifically towards high-net-worth audiences. Luke Drake, VP of Commercial Partnerships at Qatar Airways, explains:

“Qatar Airways Formula 1 partnership includes being the presenting partner of the Paddock Club. It’s essential for us that everyone who comes into the Paddock Club has a great experience. We want to share the great experiences our business flyers have onboard with fans in the Paddock Club, giving them the best quality access, views of the track, and food and beverage. Our aim is to use our know-how and experience in service to keep moving the product quality up in Formula 1.”

Authenticity Is Key

Finally, authenticity is paramount when engaging high-net-worth audiences through sponsorship. This audience in particular is savvy and protective, and any attempts to plaster brands all over an event are likely to induce a negative reaction. When targeting HNWs brands must approach sponsorships with authenticity and genuineness, focusing on supporting and growing specific sports, art forms, or cultural events that resonate with their audience.

In conclusion, engaging high-net-worth audiences through sponsorship requires a delicate balance of aligning on values, providing unique experiences, and being authentic in actions. By filtering the right audience, aligning with shared values, and adopting a gentle approach, brands can create meaningful connections that drive long-term loyalty and success.

For those considering new sponsorships targeting high-net-worth-audiences The Sponsor has taken a look at 5 of the best events to consider here. You can also join The Sponsor and a small group of marketing leaders as we discuss best practice in the engagement of high-net-worth audiences at our upcoming roundtable debate on 25th June at the Sofitel St James, London, Register your interest here.