Aside from the digital revolution, the rapid rise in the importance, influence and value of female fans has been one of the most distinctive shifts in the sports marketing landscape in the last 50 years. We now see the impact of a second generation of young women growing up with a much higher chance of developing an interest in sport, and female sporting celebrities providing role models who are closing the gap with non-sport celebrities and their male counterparts.
Sports marketing, at its core, is an industry dominated by male endorsers and media events. The NFL will always get more sponsorship and advertising attention than a women’s soccer league, just as the WNBA will not get close to its male equivalent in terms of media attention anytime soon. But does that mean marketers should stay away? Not necessarily. In fact, when approached the right way, female sports marketing can be an enticing niche for brands looking to gain exposure and jump onto a growing channel before it gets too crowded.
Female sports athletes and teams are undoubtedly on the rise. Athletes are now more recognizable than ever before, leading to marketing and sponsorship opportunities that simply did not exist in the past. The media attention is growing, as well. 2016 marked the beginning of Excelle Sports, a website dedicated to break into sports media as the only website dedicated to female sports. espnW, an initiative led by the world’s largest sports media company, seeks to accomplish similar goals.
If you can afford it, dedicating yourself to male teams, athletes and events may be a successful strategy. But attaching your brand to their female counterparts can lead to various advantages as well. With the exposure growing, and the name recognition normalizing, becoming a leader and in a niche market might be just what your brand needs to become a household name.
As women’s sports have become more attractive and their marketing has improved, companies’ have naturally become more interested in reaching new, attractive target groups in this area. This also extends to companies that have had no previous contact with sports sponsorship. These could be other banks and insurers or even tour operators or mobile phone companies.
Increasingly, it will be the responsibility of sports marketing to get this message across to these businesses and to lay out the target groups for them based on market research. Just as, on the other side, companies that have had little involvement in sports until now must professionally address the possibilities and opportunities that sponsorship has to offer. For that, they need internal specialists or external business consultants.
Women in sports will therefore change a lot and reorganize the whole marketing business in this field. It’s already begun. For marketers and prospective marketing specialists in the sports business, now is the best time to jump on board!