Women's Football’s Back But Where Are The Brands?
21 Sep, 2023
After all the excitement of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, we are now just over a week away from the start of the Barclays Women’s Super League but it feels like the season is beginning with limited brand activity promoting the competition and its star players, argues Women’s Sport Trust Trustee, Chris Hurst.
After all the excitement of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, we are now just over a week away from the start of the Barclays Women’s Super League.
But aside from the proactive marketing of the likes of Chelsea to drive ticket sales for their opening match at home to Spurs at Stamford Bridge, once again it feels like the season is beginning with limited brand activity promoting the competition and its star players.
So despite the Lionesses capturing the nation’s imagination for the second summer in succession, with their 1-0 defeat to Spain in August in the World Cup final following their incredible triumph over Germany to win the Women’s EUROs back in 2022, it’s perhaps worth reflecting on the opportunity that exists for brands in women’s sport.
The latest Women’s Sport Trust broadcast visibility research, published last week, revealed that people in the UK are watching more women’s sport than ever before on TV with average time spent watching increasing by 28% and total viewing hours increasing by 19%, year on year.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) saw the highest viewing hours ever for a global women’s football tournament with people in the UK watching it for 6 hours and 45 minutes.
The tournament also attracted a new audience with the highest percentage of female viewers (42%) and the highest number of under 16 viewers (7%) on record.
Unique audiences also came to the biggest moments of women’s sport in unprecedented numbers. 11.5 million viewers of the 29.9 million people who watched the WWC on TV did not watch the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022 on TV, with 12% of that audience watching the WWC on 11+ occasions.
8.9 million people watched at least 3+ minutes of any live games in the WWC, Barclays WSL 2022/2023 and Euros 2022. These are all huge reach numbers.
Indeed, such is the visibility of women’s sport, research published back in July by the Women’s Sport Trust, ahead of the WWC, revealed that 24.5 million adults are now aware of any women’s sport sponsorship in the UK.
Women’s only deals are proving popular due to their ability not only to attract new audiences, as we saw this summer, but also to drive brand affinity.
Importantly for a brand, 29% of those interviewed thought more favourably of companies or brands that support women’s sport through their sponsorship, compared to 17% that support men’s sport.
But arguably most importantly of all, 16% of the UK population said they are more likely to buy from a brand that sponsors women’s sport, compared to 13% that sponsor a men’s sport.
You also don’t have to be a traditional sponsor of sport to get involved in the women’s game – it is the perfect entry point into sports sponsorship to engage specific audience segments. For example, 53% of those aware of make-up brand Il Makiage’s partnership with Arsenal and 52% aware of Gucci’s partnership with England star Leah Williamson felt more positive about the brands as a result – the best performing of all brands tracked.
This is the moment to invest in women’s sport – our research has proven the commercial benefits of doing so. Women’s sport is on an exciting growth trajectory, so make sure you are part of the journey.