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Understanding the female NFL fan: 'Seekers' vs. 'Savors'

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With the 2018 NFL season underway, brands have rolled out new campaigns to engage with football fans across the country. But despite the scope, reach and millions of dollars invested in these campaigns, there is one demographic that marketers tend to overlook year after year: the female fan.

Taylor's 2018 NFL Fan Insights Study underscores the reality that while female fans are an integral part of NFL fandom—comprising 45 percent of the fan base—brands have neglected marketing to this avid demographic.

We analyzed the viewpoints of female fans across the country and evaluated avid NFL fan demographic and psychographic profiles, media consumption habits, spheres of influence and perceptions of sports. Through this study, we were able to determine messaging themes female NFL fans are more likely to engage with, and how they react to different content themes.

Our findings reveal that when marketing to this audience, brands should treat women as the in-the-know and passionate fans they are. However, there needs to be a nuanced approach to showcasing how female fans are really experiencing the sport, and that includes reveling in the action on the field.

Brands also need to know that being a female fan means going all in on game day. While male fans may be obsessed with all NFL content regardless of whether their team is playing or not, women fans are usually only interested in their team's game.

That fandom translates into their respective teams, their colors, their players. Consider that 40 percent of female fans cite team affiliation as the source of their overall fandom for the sport, while 52 percent of the NFL content they're sharing on social media is about their favorite players.

Aside from male vs. female, we also found differences in how life stage plays a role in shaping the female fan experience. Younger female fans (ages 18–34) are more likely to pay to be in the stands. Because football is a social event, this group enjoys spending time with their friends and being in the moment: whether it's booing a penalty or cheering for that fourth-and-1 conversion.

This younger fan group is what we refer to as "Seekers," because they go where the action is on game day. They are more likely to share content from their favorite teams and are typically social-media-first, multiplatform users. The bottom line: They're looking for anything to help them celebrate the biggest moments during the game and show off a love for their team.

We refer to older female fans as "Savors." While these fans (ages 35–54) are as active on social media as Seekers, they are typically loyal to one platform. Savors connect on social, voice their love for the Sunday football experience and try to create the perfect game-day experience with family and food.

When marketing to both types of female fans, we recommend engaging them through emotion and throughout pivotal moments during the fan experience:

  • Game-day activations: Seekers, bars/stadiums; Savors, family/in-home
  • Content and storytelling focusing on passion for teams
  • Connections between players and fans

Taylor has more than 30 years of experience helping brands and organizations activate around the NFL. As we continue our work with sponsors and teams, such as Procter & Gamble, Mercedes-Benz and AMB Group (parent company of the Atlanta Falcons), we'll continue to uncover the nuances of fan engagement. And as the volume and passion of female NFL fans continues to grow, understanding the mindset of this diverse but underserved constituency is key for brands to add authentic value to each individual fan's experience.

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About

Taylor is a full-service marketing communications agency with PR and social expertise at its core, partnering with many of the world’s leading consumer brands. Named “Consumer Agency of the Decade” by The Holmes Group, Taylor has partnered with the most influential corporate marketers, utilizing lifestyle, sports, entertainment and digital platforms to drive consumer engagement. Founded in 1984, Taylor has more than 100 employees with headquarters in New York and offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Charlotte and Atlanta. Taylor’s portfolio of client partners includes Activision, Allstate, AMB Group, Comcast, Diageo, Capital One, Circle K, Fox Sports, Mercedes-Benz, Panini America and P&G. Learn how “We’re Built Differently” at www.taylorstrategy.com.
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