As England’s Lionesses storm their way to the Women’s World Cup final this weekend, big brands have a still largely untapped opportunity to support and grow fandom in women’s football.
The game has unique values of community, inclusiveness and kindness, and fans are looking to like-minded brands to help build a growing audience that embraces all demographics and social groups in the UK.
Brand opps in women’s football
Through qualitative research with experts on the women’s game and leading fans, together with quantitative research of 500 fans across the UK, the report found a fandom based on openness and mutual respect, which is defining of the women’s game.
Asked the question by Open Revolt, the agency’s network of experts ‘what are the behaviours of fandom in women’s football?’, ‘respect, family friendly, community, inclusiveness, kindness and openness’ accounted for 73% of responses.
These highly prized values represent a key moment for brands to support and align with a sport that feels both fresh and revolutionary.
For women’s football, being a fan is about more than the game itself. It’s also supporting the progress of women in sport and society – 50% of respondents said that being a fan of women’s football is a key part of their identity.
The research revealed a vibrant and interconnected community, where multiple circles of camaraderie coexist, both in real life and online.
Respondents said that they did not want the women’s game to be compared with other football games or leagues, and made clear that the women’s game has a unique culture in its own right.
Brands have a key role to play in enhancing all that is unique about the women’s game and leaning into the kindness and inclusivity that is shown within fandom.
The research revealed that fandom in women’s football is surprisingly different from other sports, presenting brands with new and exciting opportunities for those prepared to engage with fans in new and authentic ways.
The majority of fandom exists outside of stadiums – only 16% of fans go to see live games. In contrast, 31% of fans watch the games online, with younger fans seeking out players and engaging with them directly on TikTok.
Similarly, the way that fans support the game doesn’t follow the patterns of more well-established sports.
Surprisingly, many fans focus their support on the international team alone, with 69% of UK fans surveyed supporting the national team versus only 8% for the Women’s Super League (WSL).
Some fans said they support more than one WSL team and others follow players rather than teams. Here, Revolt identified a clear opportunity for brands to grow the depth of fandom beyond the national team.
However, the research highlighted that there are still challenges both in the game and for fandom.
When asked what is holding people back from being fans, ‘a lack of knowledge of women’s football’ was one of the top answers, but it was a ‘lack of access’ that was noted by more than half of respondents (54%).
Location of WSL stadiums, kick-off times, and a difficult user experience when buying tickets were all highlighted as key challenges that need to be overcome.
Brands could play a significant role in helping to improve both access and awareness in the women’s game.
The research revealed a vibrant, inclusive and kind fandom in women’s football that is open to support from brands. A fan base who are excited about the growth of the game, but crucially feeling that this growth shouldn’t come with the loss of the kindness and culture that makes the fandom what it is.