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Study: 2023 Women’s World Cup ‘significant opportunity’ to reach Gen Z fans

‘Women’s Football Fandom in 2023’ report finds 12% of Gen Z fans prefer women’s soccer to men’s game.

11 April 2023 Ed Dixon

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  • 58% of Gen Z women’s soccer fans identified as ‘superfans’ or ‘supporters’ 
  • Women’s World Cup big chance for rights holders and brands looking to engage younger fanbase

The 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup is set to provide a ‘valuable opportunity’ for brands and media to reach Gen Z soccer fans, according to a study from Footballco and Indivisa.

The ‘Women’s Football Fandom in 2023’ report, which is based on surveys of 2,291 male and female fans from ten countries, identified 58 per cent of Gen Z women’s soccer fans as ‘superfans’ (those who watch as many games as possible) or ‘supporters’ (those who watch games featuring their team).

The study also found that 12 per cent of Gen Z fans prefer women’s soccer to the men’s game.

According to the report, 78 per cent of fans of men’s soccer identified as supporters or superfans, compared to 52 per cent of fans of the women’s game. The gap was attributed to the time supporters have been engaged. The study states that 37 per cent of fans of women’s soccer have been fans for six years or longer, compared to 72 per cent of fans of men’s soccer who have been fans for the same period. 

With 48 per cent of the women’s soccer fanbase identifying as ‘casual fans’ (those who watch the occasional game), this summer’s Women’s World Cup has been deemed a significant opportunity for rights holders and brands looking to reach this growing fanbase and for the continued growth of the sport.

The study added that for brands targeting the Gen Z demographic, the Women’s World Cup provides an even greater opportunity as 58 per cent of female fans aged 18 to 24 are supporters or superfans. That number drops to 37 per cent with female fans aged 45 and over. 

In terms of what women’s soccer fans are seeking, Footballco says the content they want the most includes live games, match highlights and breaking news. When broken down by age, 18 to 24-year-olds show a generational difference in media preference, with their top three content types being memes, live games and inspirational stories.

Outside of the top three, fans of women’s soccer over-index on their interest in non-match content, such as inspirational stories and the grassroots game. This is even truer for Gen Z fans, according to the study, who when compared to fans in other demographic groups over-index on a number of content types that bring them closer to the game. These include inspirational stories (by 18 per cent), nostalgic content (12 per cent), skills tutorials (11 per cent) and grassroots stories (12 per cent).

As for where supports will get their content, the report shows women’s soccer fans are most likely to consume social media content on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Those aged 18 to 24 favoured Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

“What we’re seeing here is the importance of a connection to players for fans of women’s football,” said Morgan Brennan, head of Indivisa, Footballco’s women’s soccer media brand.

“Brands can and in some cases already are recognising that working with female players should go beyond them holding or endorsing a product, the brand and the content around it should provide a story that fans can relate to and if possible connect to a cause that’s relevant to players and fans.

“This point was demonstrated in the report, with 56 per cent of fans saying that would think more favourably about brands that sponsor their favourite female players, increasing to 76 per cent with superfans.”

She continued: “When it comes to young fans of women’s football, it is clear that what they want and where they want it is different from older fans. This creates great opportunities for brands to activate outside of the matchday window and away from traditional broadcast media.”

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