Following the Lionesses historic Euros win last summer which saw a record breaking Wembley Stadium audience of 87,192 spectators for a women’s match, the FA Cup Final just gone between Chelsea and Manchester United drew almost 80,000.
Tech-based digital marketing agency Fifty.io conducted research into the sources behind the growing popularity of the women’s game and believes it has uncovered an opportunity for brands to leverage an audience that is ripe for growth across a sport that is under-sponsored.
Per Fifty.io’s report, women’s football audiences are far broader than men’s, with parents identified as ‘sporty professionals’ found to be the driving force behind women’s football growth (27.5%). Compared to men’s, this subsection represents just 5.4% of football audiences.
The data also found that 80% of the audience of the men’s game can be defined as ‘hardcore football fans’ with the remaining 20% falling under ‘fans of football with broader interest as well’. Women’s football is the mirror image with the groups reversed.
Women’s sports fans also engage far more positively than fans of the men’s game, said the report. When comparing women’s sports, not just football, to their male equivalents, positive sentiment makes up a far larger share of the conversation than negative sentiment. This holds across every sport, team and competition.
Hit a wider audience in a more positive environment
These figures argue that women’s football offers a more family-friendly introduction to the sport than the men’s game, with parents feeling their young ones are safer among the less boisterous and negative crowds.
By aligning themselves with the women’s game, brands may have the opportunity to reach audiences currently untouched by football sponsorships, particularly certain subsections of children. The study also suggests a potential need for a rethink about marketing and communications designed to grow the women’s game, beyond the opportunities for sponsorship.
According to Simon Eaton, Managing Director at Fifty.io, “the broad tribes that have been attracted to women’s football means it has a materially different fanbase to that of the men’s game”.
“It has a positive, vibrant culture that is a far cry from the entrenched club affiliation of men’s football,” he said. “And women’s football is growing fast – it is on track to rank against the men’s game and other global sports.”
“All of this suggests women’s football has a unique nature, should attract a wider range of brand sponsorship and may require a different strategy to grow the sport long-term.”
Therein lies the opportunity for brands – uncover this innovative and different strategy to potentially lay a significant claim to the advertising market share of a sport with an audience predicted to only grow bigger and more diverse in the long-term.