SYDNEY: Sports sponsorship is paying off for National Australia Bank (NAB), which has seen customer satisfaction scores rising sharply with fans of the football competition it supports.

The NAB Challenge is the Australian Football League (AFL) pre-season competition, featuring 27 matches across 25 days from mid-February to mid-March.

A recent study by Roy Morgan Research found that some 80% of NAB account holders were "very" or "fairly" satisfied with the bank during the six months to December 2015.

But this figure climbed in relation to the level of interest account holders showed in the NAB Challenge, Marketing reported.

Among those who only "occasionally" watched games in that competition, satisfaction edged up two percentage points to 82%.

And among those who "almost always" watched matches, the figure rose eight percentage points to 88%.

Overall, customers who almost always watched the NAB Challenge showed a ten point increase on the average customer in terms of being "very" satisfied with the bank, while for occasional viewers of the competition there was a nine-point uplift from the average in terms of being "fairly" satisfied.

Norman Morris, Roy Morgan Research industry communications director, noted that around one in three Australians tuning in to the AFL pre-season already associated NAB with Australian Rules Football. 

"Any company that sponsors a popular sporting event is hoping at heart for just an ounce of transference: love the sport, like us a bit," he said. 

"This data suggests a real correlation – and not just a demographic correlation – between fans of the AFL pre-season and their positive attitude to its sponsor." 

Morris also suggested that the data "highlights how likeability can play a big part in satisfying customers – who are then more loyal, more open to cross-selling, and more likely to recommend to friends and family, delivering long-term benefits".

Data sourced from Mrketing; additional content by Warc staff