Approximately 50% of the population refers to themselves as female. But throughout the years, sports have always been predominately male-dominated. From players to viewers, companies have always focused their efforts on marketing sports in a male-oriented manner. Women's sports is also on the rise with the increased amount of viewers tuning in, with 57% of the viewership to be male, it is growing space to target. Now is the time to change the norm and market sports in a more neutral way so women aren't an afterthought.

The Facts

As we step into the world of female sports, several different factors have contributed to the development of professional women's sports. Although these women play at the same competitive level as men, we have found some interesting facts about women in this industry.

  • On average female athletes are paid approximately 77% less then their male counterparts when playing in the same competitive level and sport.
  • In 2019 Serena Williams was the only professional female athlete to break Forbes list of highest-paid athletes. She made $4.2 Million in salary and $25 Million in endorsements, totalling to $29.2 Million.
  • Sponsorships for female sports only accounted for 0.4% of the total amount spent on sports sponsorships despite the fact that women are responsible for growing the active wear market to bring in millions of dollars for retailers.
  • 50% of the fan base for NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR are female.
  • Female sports fans are focused mainly on their athletic abilities. Male sports fans focus on both personal and professional lives of the athlete.

Leveraging Female Fans

(c/o Emma Dau, Unsplash)

Looking at the sports industry currently, it is clear that male athletes are the money makers. But the fans are almost split 50/50, with more and more female fans being involved in sports; this expands the demographic for sports marketing.

Apparel + Mobile Shopping

As major leagues started to realize the increase of female fans, the desire for team apparel to fit the female body type began to rise. The NFL was the first to take action and started to make apparel for women. But unfortunately, they took it the wrong path to "shrink it and pink it." The clothing focused on making the sizing fit the female body while also making it pink and glittery. When this line was released, female fans appreciated the female sizing, but preferred the apparel matched the team colours.

Mobile shopping is also on the rise for sports merchandise. A recent study found that 65% of sports apparel sales came from mobile shopping—with sales spiking just after a team wins a big game. When a team wins, their fans want their merchandise quickly (as we saw with the Raptors recent NBA win), and their mobile devices can help make it happen. You can target mobile shoppers via the new Instagram Shopping feature, sponsored posts, and through your team's mobile app.

Targeted Campaigns + Events

Female fans started to become more prioritized as the industry found that they are a huge demographic that was untouched. As women control 80% of consumer purchases, it is clear that this is a niche that can not be ignored. To leverage this demographic, the New York Yankees host a yearly fantasy camp for women to participate and create unforgettable memories. This camp tends to further increase the fan's loyalty in addition to sharing their experience with friends.

Another outlet that captures female fans is through advertising campaigns directly targeted to them. These campaigns can feature a mothers day promotion or a ladies night out. Creating promotions that focus mainly on women, can have a stronger influence on them than just a generic advertising campaign.

Leveraging Social Media

At least 1 in 2 sports fans say they head to social media or chat to friends on dark social platforms when second-screening while watching a live game - most often to see friends’ reactions and commentary in real-time. For brands wanting the attention of these viewers, maximizing the digital footprint of a campaign will be key.

While it's more challenging to create a business case for a women's sports sponsorship deal, seek alternative metrics that can be leveraged via social media like content consumption, reach and engagement. The days of slapping your company logo on a t-shirt and getting TV exposure are dead. Today, brands need to invest in things that resonant with their values, and be purpose-driven in an authentic way. What better way to tell that story than through platforms like Instagram Stories which were created with the intent to have 1:1 conversations in a more authentic way?

The use of social media gives marketers another outlet to connect with their fans. Being able to communicate with fans directly creates a stronger connection between the team and the fan. Learning more about what interests your fan is one of the essential tools that can help you target this demographic. A great example of this was done by Adidas who experimented in the dark social space by taking a community approach and creating a private WhatsApp channel for their fans to connect with athletes, receive exclusive invites and special offers.

Know Your Strengths

(c/o Matt Alaniz, Unsplash)

As the female fan base continues to grow, so too should marketing efforts targeted at women. While we continue to look into the sports marketing scene, there are several different ways that marketers can use this information to their advantage. Since women control the majority of consumer spending, the amount of revenue that can be generated from their influence is enormous. Women are not the only target in this segment; young girls are starting to get into sports at a young age with the influence from a combination of their parents and siblings.

While some sports marketers have pivoted their marketing efforts to appeal to female consumers, there's still more work to be done in order to win women's spending.

Contact us to see how we can help you connect with your female sports fans!

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