What do sponsors need to succeed in women’s football?

Attention and trust.

Enough awareness to let fans and media know they are part of the women’s game and engagement to lead them to interact, follow and, ultimately, buy. An attractive story to craft a remarkable experience in their customer journey.

Awareness to be seen

In relation to the need of visibility, the first stage of any new brand, product or service in the market, Iberdrola made a significant commitment in favour of women’s sports in 2016. Iberdrola became the first company to invest globally in numerous federations as football, triathlon, badminton, rugby or swimming.

Through this strong movement, Iberdrola ensured its privileged position as a pioneering and top-of-mind brand in women’s sport. Awareness.

Actually, as we can see on the next illustration, Iberdrola became one of the top 20 companies in the Sponsorship Awareness Index in 2018, only two years after. In 2019, the brand scaled to the 12th position of the ranking.

However, Iberdrola’s spot is taken, as Stanley as the first-ever main sponsor of FC Barcelona women’s team. The most powerful brand positioning strategies are either being the best, the only or the first. But, what can other brands seek and sports properties offer?

Engagement to be trusted

At a player level, it will become more and more necessary to work on their branding. Most women athletes embody an inspiring and self-made story about perseverance and sacrifice. But, can all players be Marta Vieira? Definitely not, why would a brand sponsor any given footballer instead of her teammate? This is when storytelling, frequency and consistency take place, to deliver a different platform for engagement and trust.

Earlier this year, Loewe announced Megan Rapinoe as their new brand ambassador. Not because she shares common values with women’s football but because of her unique thoughts and principles about self-expression and provoking dressing.

Regarding clubs, the argument of offering the opportunity to support the women’s game will eventually become less and less effective. Nowadays, many brands are occupying this spot. And, actually, how do you differentiate your club from the neighbour if both put the same opportunity on the table?

Clubs also need to dig inside to develop an authentic story as Portland Thorns has been so successfully doing. For instance, Athletic Club signed SKFK, a Basque ethical fashion brand determined to leave an ecological footprint on the territory though slow and sustainable fashion. Engaging by caring.

Competitions as the UEFA Women’s Champions League or UEFA Women’s Euro deliver a priceless opportunity for brands to get involved in creating, shaping and development the future of the women’s game, as VISA committed to through its seven-year partnership with UEFA or Barclays with the English FA Women’s Super League. Likewise, Budweiser became the official beer of the NWSL, to help growing the competition beyond supporting the USWNT every four years.

Making things better

“We are committed to help grow the women’s game” will become less and less effective. Women’s football is upgrading its commercial value and, consequently, every player, club and competition will be able to provide a more valuable attention and trust by offering a unique story matching their sponsors’ values. Competitiveness on the pitch is progressively expanding at a business level where training is also essential.

The magic is in constant-changing fan’s behaviour and attitudes, who will demand more personalised, fast and remarkable experiences with brands in women’s football. Making things better by making better things, as Seth Godin says.

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