When Under Armour signed Georges St. Pierre to an endorsement deal earlier this month, the mixed martial arts world took notice, though it likely did not resonate in the larger sports business world.
But the release of a recent study may have the inverse effect.
Scarborough Sports Marketing's new demographic survey, conducted over a six-month span, revealed a young audience with a high income. According to their statistics, MMA fans are 15 percent more likely than the average American adult to have a household income of over $75,000.
The results of the study shouldn't be discounted. The findings are particularly newsworthy because they come from an independent source not affiliated with the sport. In the past, the UFC has trumpeted similar facts in hopes of drawing in new advertisers, but now major companies with major ad dollars will see it from a reputable firm, giving them more confidence in the buying power of the MMA consumer.
That could and should lead to bigger advertisers entering the sport, following other trailblazers like Budweiser, Burger King, Gatorade and Under Armour. For most of the sport's existence, small MMA-related companies have comprised the majority of advertisers.
Perhaps the only small negative of the release is the confirmation of the sport's overwhelmingly male fan base. Many major, mainstream companies prefer to advertise their product to a diverse audience.
Still, the relative wealth of MMA fans should help draw in some companies who'd been previously reluctant to use MMA as a marketing vehicle for their products.
"Sports marketing has proven its value through a difficult economic climate, and MMA can help marketers capitalize on their customers' engagement with sports," said Howard Goldberg, senior vice president of Scarborough Sports Marketing in the release.
The company also noted that MMA fans are well above the average for ownership of high-tech items such as HDTV's and video game systems, and that the fan group represents a vast part of the market for those planning to buy a new car or truck within the next year.
The confirmation of the MMA fan's youth, buying power and willingness to spend combined with the lower price tag that comes from advertising in MMA should make it a prime target for an influx of ad dollars in the coming years.