Among young generations, two out of five people don’t care about football because they simply have “better things to do”.
The most popular sport worldwide is missing a whole generation aged from 16 to 24 years old, according to the latest ECA report on fan engagement. Its excessive business culture and lack of sensitivity with society are some of the reasons.
COVID-19 has accelerated the consolidation of a generation that cares about consciousness and responsibility on matters like equality, ecology and human rights. It’s no coincidence that women’s football deeply empathises with the resilience and social spirit of these attitudes.
Mobile connectivity, OTT content, social media or immersive experiences are disconnecting many fans from the game. From watching to feeling, from seeing to changing.
They just expect more.
Closing the gap
Understanding football as a social and entertainment industry rather than sport is what can help stakeholders to continue being relevant.
A new era of football after COVID-19 requires us to think different to succeed in a disrupted model, where only technology can elevate experiences and sense of belonging.
eSports, augmented and virtual reality are emerging areas to keep entertaining, inspiring and changing. New opportunities which force professionals to go back to the basics of marketing, “who is it for” and “what is it for”.
In women’s football, we can differentiate two clear market segments, composed by those who really follow the game and know every detail, and those who enjoy football and also feel appealed by women’s football because of their interest in sport.
According to ECA, football fanbase is formed by six distinct groups: FOMO Followers (27%), Main Eventers (19%), Tag Alongs (19%), Club Loyalists (14%), Football Fanatics (11%) and Icon Imitators(11%).
Data must be clearly followed by purpose in order to close the gap, by designing experiences aimed to fulfil fans’ expectations and emotional needs. Among the most important ones, we can find feeling part of something bigger, being entertained, socialising within a community and watching quality content.
Women’s football and data
The women’s game is clearly understanding the need of listening before doing. The necessity of collecting data from viewers, fans, season-ticket holders or social media followers.
Through UEFA.tv, the European government body broadcasted live the matches of the UEFA Women’s Champions League. A streaming behind a registration wall for data collection.
Google powered the Virtual Watch Party by Secret during the NWSL Challenge Cup, an initiative to hang out, chat, cheer clubs together with friends and other fans.
One year ago, the English FA launched a free streaming platform dedicated to women’s football, The FA Player. A service behind registration to build a fanbase.
Culture is enough
As the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020 states, “the pandemic has brought about an even stronger sense of individual responsibility”.
Making things better is what sport and women’s football can seek in order to own part of the limited attention of today’s society.
An approach at the heart of Visa, who with acceptance and equality, promotes initiatives like 50,000 euros donations to foundations selected by UWCL players of the match. Beyond sport, the project The Second Half builds opportunities once players retire. In 2019, Visa ranked 19th in the ranking Top 30 Meaningful Brands.
Football stakeholders don’t have many options to connect with young segments. To be social or not to be at all.