Back To Listing

Huawei patrol: has the handset maker backed the right NRL and AFL teams?

Sources: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, July 2015 – June 2016, sample n = 50,712 Australians 14+

From banks to breweries, utilities to telcos, iced coffee to airlines to cars, brands across many industries stitch their logos onto AFL and NRL team jerseys. Over four million Australians 14+ (21%) plan to buy a new mobile phone in the next 12 months, with supporters of the NRL’s Canberra Raiders and the AFL’s Gold Coast Suns (both backed by handset maker Huawei) among the most likely to be in the market. 

NRL and AFL club supporters are more likely than the average Australian to be in the market for a new handset (23% intend to buy one in the next 12 months), Roy Morgan Research shows. And Huawei’s clubs are both among each code’s top five by the proportion of fans in the market for a new mobile phone. Mobile handset maker Alcatel also sponsors a team in each code: the South Sydney Rabbitohs, since 2011, and the Greater Western Sydney Giants, since last year.  


24% of Canberra Raiders supporters plan to buy a handset in the coming year—and they’ve now had five years of exposure to Huawei’s red floral logo on their team’s green jerseys, the reward for a Major Sponsor. Whether this will spawn an increase in Huawei sales around the nation’s capital remains to be seen, but Raiders fans are almost 20% less likely than average to want one of the two dominant handset brands, an Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy.

In the NRL, two teams stand out with well above-average mobile phone purchase intention among their Australian supporters: the New Zealand Warriors (32%) and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (30%). Tied with the Raiders on 24% to make the Top 5 are the Sydney Roosters—which Samsung sponsored until 2009—and the Gold Coast Titans.

% of AFL and NRL team supporters who intend to buy a new handset in the next year

Sources: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, July 2015 – June 2016, sample n = 50,712 Australians 14+


Huawei began sponsoring the Gold Coast Suns AFL team as a ‘technology and ball partner’ last year. Although still a young club with fewer supporters than others in the league, Suns fans are far and away the most likely to be after a new mobile handset: 34%. The rest of the Top 5—Demons, Saints, Blues and Crows—are tied with 28% of supporters in the mobile market.

However although Gold Coast Suns supporters may be the right target market for Huawei in terms of the prospects for imminent sales, these mobile-buying fans are also more likely to have their hearts set on an Apple iPhone for that upcoming mobile purchase.

Michele Levine, CEO – Roy Morgan Research, says:

“There are four million Australians looking to get a new mobile phone this year, and 56% of them support an AFL or NRL team.

“Huawei signed on with the Gold Coast Suns in the AFL last year, and renewed its major partnership with the Canberra Raiders at the start of the 2016 season: a move which quickly paid off as the Raiders enjoyed their best season in 20 years.

“Analysis of supporters of the Sydney Swans and Melbourne Storm shows they have just average mobile phone purchase intention this year (21%), while Sharks fans are below average (19%), and the Westers Bulldogs are bottom of the ladder with fewer handset buyers among their supporters than any team in either code (15%).

“When considering potential sport sponsorship deals, sponsors need to ensure there is a natural alignment between the clubs’ fans and their target markets. With many deals lasting for years, even decades, sponsors must also find ways to develop metrics that monitor benefits and maximise every opportunity to turn fans into customers.” 

For comments or more information please contact:
Roy Morgan - Enquiries
Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309

About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%