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How much do college athlete endorsements boost brands?

The NCAA’s policy change allowing athletes to sell their name, image and likeness (NIL) opened the floodgates to many college athletes cashing in on their fame. YouGov consumer research in the United States shows how valuable college athlete endorsements can be for brands.

Roughly a quarter of American sports fans say they’re more likely to notice a product or service that is endorsed by a college athlete they like or follow (26%), according to YouGov purchase journey data. One in five fans would consider buying the product (20%), 18% would likely purchase the product and 18% would recommend the product.

However, the brand may want to also consider the fact that more than half of fans think that college athletes should focus more on school and less on capitalizing on their NIL. 

Since the policy change on July 1, there have been several high-profile deals. Hanna and Haley Cavinder of Fresno State’s women’s basketball team, were the first to take advantage, signing a brand partnership deal with Boost Mobile as the clock struck midnight.  

Boost would go on to sign hundreds of NCAA athletes the following month which – according to YouGov BrandIndex – helped buoy its Ad Awareness score among fans of women’s college basketball and US adults in general. 

There’s no denying the value of these partnerships. More than a quarter of sports fans say they’re likely to engage with brands that partner with college athletes (28%). 

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Methodology: Data is based on a sample size of 332 US adults who indicated an interest in sports in general. Online interviews were conducted online in September 2021. YouGov BrandIndex collects data on thousands of brands every day. Boost Mobile’s Ad Awareness score is based on the question: Which of the following brands have you seen an advertisement for in the past two weeks? and is delivered as a percentage. Scores are based on an average daily sample size of 111 fans of Division 1 Women’s college basketball and 1,354 US adults. Figures are based on a two-week moving average. Learn more about BrandIndex. 

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