Growing at a fast pace with increased participation, Women’s football is now a globally recognised sport and one which is now able to provide valuable and sustained marketing opportunity.
In order for the major sports brands to seize the initiative, they must provide the customer with the right product, at the right time, price and place. A study into the value of a sports brand (Bouchet, Hillairet and Bodet, 2013) declared “A brand truly becomes a brand with time when its offers finally meet customers’ needs and expectations”.
Following the success of last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, are many of the major brands being inconsistent by failing to continually meet these requirements and therefore, are they missing out on valuable marketing opportunities and continued growth?
‘Breaking through the mainstream’, capturing a new audience and increasing the awareness of the game have until recently, all been major barriers within women’s football.
The anticipation of a major tournament can help provide a springboard for major investment and provide the opportunity to engage with the customer at the right place and right time. A brand can anticipate and capture the customer mood simply by grasping significant moments, as distinguished by Weiss (2019).
Last summers World Cup was ‘record breaking with over 1 billion viewers’ with many brands looking to market a new audience. Head & Shoulders ‘3 lines’ campaign, inspired fans to support the England Women’s Football Team by being creative with their own hair styles and Lucozade Sport launched two limited edition bottles as part of it’s £2 million sponsorship deal with the England Team featuring two of the players, Steph Houghton and Nikita Parris.
Further sponsorship deals were provided by Visa (full sponsorship to the World Cup) and Barclays who stepped in to sponsor the Women’s Super League from this season in a deal seen to be “the biggest ever investment in UK women’s sport by a brand”.
In an effort to enhance the game further, UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) launched a strategy with the aim to double the number of female players in Europe by 2024, a campaign which followed an ‘initiative’ carried out in 2017 named Together #WePlayStrong which was aimed at ‘transforming perceptions of women’s football and encouraging girls to take up and continue playing the game’.
With the Women’s Super League now attracting a much wider audience and other domestic leagues and competitions gaining more coverage, are we witnessing a continued growth of sponsorship deals and better resources to enable further opportunity?
Creative thinking, introducing new concepts and engaging with your audience may well bring continued success however, will the major sports brands continue to capitalise on the big events, gain valuable promotion and maximise their profits or, do more actually need to wake up to the marketing opportunities that Women’s football can offer.
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