New IPA/Rare research reveals how to engage with female football fans

The research shows significant differences in the ways that men and women prefer to consume football content.

New research from the IPA and Rare: Consulting has lifted the lid on how football clubs can best engage with their female fans, as well as the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on wider consumption of sports among women.

This second in a series of Match Day Reports, ‘On the Ball: Staying Onside with Female Football Fans’, published today (29 October), highlights how over a third of female fans (34%) intend to watch, read and talk more football in the coming season. This compared to just 10% who intend to engage less with football in 2021. In addition, 32% of female fans plan to spend more on the sport (vs 15% who intend to spend less), despite the fact that 37% of them expect their financial situation to suffer as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, compared with 34% of male fans expecting to experience the same issues.

The research also shows significant differences in the ways that men and women prefer to consume football content, with female fans more likely than men to be interested in athlete interactions via videos/live chat (32% female v 20% male), entering competitions (23% v 16%) and in engaging with special match day offers (15% v 7%). Meanwhile, male fans are more interested than their female counterparts in repeat or archive content (25% male v 19% female) and playing football video games such as FIFA (25%v 22%).

Additional findings include:

  • Women are more likely to watch more live games in a stadium, when crowds return, with 20% of female fans intending to do so compared with 17% of men.
  • There is an increasing appetite for consuming sport in general among women, with 19% of female fans intending to watch other types of sport more often than they did before the Coronavirus pandemic. In particular, female football fans over-index on horse racing, Aussie Rules and Rugby League in comparison to the wider UK population.

Says Isabelle Holmes, Insight Manager, IPA: "Considering the significant financial difficulties caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, it will be vital for the future of the sport that it understands how to engage best with all fans. With women now making up a third of UK football fans this report will help provide a toolkit for brands, broadcasters and clubs to better understand, target and monetise an incredibly important growth audience."

“An historically overlooked audience, our report shows the importance of targeting female football fans to the future of the game. This cohort holds a lot of spending power and it would be remiss of clubs, brands and broadcasters not to target them, especially during these economically difficult times”

Fiona Sellick, MD, Rare: Group

On the Ball: Staying Onside with Female Football Fans is the second in our series of Match Day Reports. In the next edition, to be published in November, we will examine how age cohorts differ in their expectations of the football sector and how brands can future-proof their efforts to engage Gen Z.

Download On the Ball: Staying Onside with Female Football Fans
Last updated 26 November 2020