After decades of playing second fiddle to the men's game, women's football - at last - has slowly become one of the most popular sports in Britain.
Increased interest following Team GB's heroics at London 2012 has propelled the game to the third largest team sport in the UK, based on participation. Under the stewardship of role models such as Rachel Yankey and Casey Stoney, the women's football market is booming.
Beginning in 2011, the newly created Women's Super League has seen gate entry increase by 600%, with television ratings now equaling the men's Scottish Premier League. Forming from its predecessor, the Women's Premier League (which still exists as a lower league), the WSL was formed to produce a superior competition. Having made the decision to switch to a summer cycle, women's sides face now face reduced competition from the men's game and improved playing standards have made the sport a joy to watch in its own right.
Some WSL Twitter accounts have passed the 80,000 follower mark and Arsenal Ladies became the first women's side to reach one million Facebook likes. Whilst the sport's popularity undeniable it is still has a long way to go before it is on terms with the men's game with them receiving 12 times more media coverage.
Even though the sport's popularity is, relatively speaking, in its infancy sports marketing agencies need to get to grips with understanding how the women's game can be a very effective platform for targeting female demographics. Whilst the establishment's current focus means more time and money go towards men's football market - as this gives access to a much wider demographic - the women's game can help brands achieve a lot and for far less spend.
If women are from Venus and men are from Mars, then they have brought with them significant values from their intergalactic home worlds. For instance, female fans possess a strong loyalty to a specific team rather than to a league as a whole, whereas the male love of football has much wider-set boundaries. If brands understand the teams their target demographic support, they will enjoy highly effective cut-through.
A key consideration - and something that often gets lost in the mix - is the respective ways each gender views live or televised sporting events. Men value on-field success and consider other sporting entertainment opportunities before making their decision on what to watch. Conversely women look towards weather, social or work commitments and the social environment prior to making their commitment. All these forces are hard beyond clubs' direct control but with women preferring experience and men results, theoretically it is easier to drive profits through the female fan base.
A team reveling in this sports revolution is AS Roma; harnessing Pinterest to reach their female target audience, they are able to influence a 'shopping community' that overwhelmingly gender biased. As a result demand in team apparel has never been higher; by working directly with their female fans, the club is now on the cutting end of recognizing a 'girl power' force and one which will stand by the brand through thick and thin.
If clubs, sports PR firms, marketers and the media can realize the symbiotic benefits of effective engagement with women, the payoff would be very positive. By increasing the respect and attention given to female football, the profile of women's sport would be given a rapid boost, bringing with it the growth of a raw and passionate support network.
ENS is a London sports agency with a catalogue of world class clients from across the sporting world. The specialize in sports PR, online public relations and crisis management.Suggest a correction