Each year, from the season kickoff through the Super Bowl, brands roll out new campaigns to engage with NFL fans across the country. But despite the scope, reach and millions of dollars invested against these campaigns, there’s one demographic that marketers tend to overlook year after year: the female fan. Taylor’s 2018 NFL Fan Insights Study underscores the reality that while female fans are an integral part of NFL fandom — they comprise 45 percent of the fan base — brands have made little effort marketing to this avid demographic.
We analyzed the viewpoints of female fans across the country and evaluated NFL fan demographic and psychographic profiles, media consumption habits, spheres of influence and perceptions of sports. Through this study, we were able to determine messaging themes female NFL fans are more likely to engage with, and how they react to different content themes.
Our findings reveal, that when engaging this audience, brands should treat them as the in-the-know and passionate fans they are. However, there needs to be a nuanced approach to showcasing how female fans are really experiencing the sport, and that includes reveling in the action on the field.
Also, marketers should recognize that that being a female fan means going all in on gameday. While male fans may be engaged and conversing about NFL content whether their team is playing or not, women are usually only engaged around their team’s game. That fandom translates into their respective teams, their colors, their players, and not necessarily being a general football fan. Consider that 40 percent of female fans cite that team affiliation is the source of their overall fandom for the sport while 52 percent of the NFL content they’re sharing on social media being about their favorite players. In addition to the difference between male vs. female, our insights uncovered how life stage plays a role in shaping the female fan experience. Younger female fans (ages 18-34) are more likely to pay to be in the stands. Because football is a social event, this group enjoys spending time with their friends and being in the moment: whether it’s booing a penalty or cheering for that fourth-and-one conversion.
This younger fan group is what we refer to as “Seekers,” because they go where the action is on gameday. They are more likely to share content from their favorite teams and are typically social media-first, multi-platform users. The bottom line: they’re looking for anything to help them celebrate the biggest moments during the game and show off a love for their team.
Then there are the “Savors.” These older female fans (ages 35-54), while they are as active on social media as Seekers, they are typically loyal to one platform. Savors connect on social, voice their love for the Sunday football experience and try to create the perfect gameday experience with family & food. When marketing to both types of fans, we recommend engaging them through emotion and throughout pivotal moments during the fan experience:
• Gameday activations: seekers, bars/stadiums; savors, family/in-home
• Content/storytelling around team passion
• Connections between players and fans
With more than three decades of experience helping brands and organizations activate around the NFL, Taylor has unmatched knowledge and insights of the fan experience as it relates to social media behavior around sporting events. As we continue our work with sponsors and teams, such as P&G, Mercedes Benz, and AMB Group (parent company of the Atlanta Falcons), we’ll continue to uncover the nuances of fan engagement. And as the volume and passion of female NFL fans continues to grow, understanding the mindset of this diverse but underserved constituency is key for brands to add authentic value to each individual fan’s experience.
To learn more about our insights on the female NFL fan, watch our video here.
Samantha Baier is director of Taylor’s Digital Sports group. As the leader of this team, she develops industry-leading digital campaigns rooted in fan insights for some of the world’s leading consumer brands.