Equipment manufactures have slim margins, so if you can get some stuff for free + bonus if you win, that can be a good deal for an up and coming athletes.
True, and for the most part the key suppliers in a sport like triathlon ounce you move away from, a Trek, or a Specialized, they are all small companies with VERY limited marketing budgets. Trust me, I work this market, and what i'm offering is often pretty substantial in terms of eye-balls on offer, to the right audience, for not very much money, and this get's turned down by just about everyone in the business!
Add in the fact that, in triathlons main market we have been in a bit of a slump now for 3 - 5 years. The FIRST thing to get cut in slow/hard times are marketing budgets (I don't agree with this, but it's the default thing that nearly 100% of mid-sized and smaller businesses and brands do).
Where the money is, is in what we call the non-endemics - businesses away from the supply area for that sport, but who may have an interest in the participants. But here again, triathlon suffers from small numbers. Also their will be variation from country to country based on culture and market. Jan Frodeno has Mercedes as a sponsor, but I'm guessing that here in North America, Lionel Sanders (or his agent), can't even get a meeting with a car company!!
It's all very challenging and complicated at the same time!
Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog