Why Brands Should be Investing in Women’s Sport
Maddie Coutts | 09.07.19
Ever since I can remember, I have been around sport. It has helped shape me as a person and influenced my path in life.
From a Mum who is Manchester United-obsessed, and a rugby-mad Dad, to being on every sports team I could in school. Not to mention wanting to keep up with my older brother in everything he did, whether it was ‘boys only’ or not! After leaving university, where hockey took me all over the country, it was natural for me to move into the world of sport as a career, and I still love seeing twists, turns and triumph every day.
At the start of my career, I discovered ‘women in sport’. I attended a women in sport networking event and was shocked when there were only six females in the room, three of whom were on stage as panel speakers. How could women in sport be steered or taken seriously without significant female representation?
This is something I have sadly encountered all too frequently since. For a long time, I worried this was just the norm for our industry. Women were rarely seen and barely heard. Maybe I was being naïve. Is the issue of women’s sports viewership deeper-rooted than I presumed?
But then, in the last year or two, I have noticed a shift. Enter the Lionesses, the W-Series, the England netball team winning BBC Sports Personality Team of The Year. Enter The Telegraph showing a commitment to give women’s sport the platform to grow it not only needs, but deserves. Yet despite the excitement, the progress, the Instagram takeovers from Manchester City’s training ground, we can’t settle for this being enough. This is merely step one of a much longer journey to true equality.
As the Women in Sport Lead at Fifty Digital – a company who have always placed a strong emphasis on developing women’s sport – every week I speak to both existing and new partners and am asked the same question: Should our next move be into women in sport? My reply: Why would you not? It is a logical and progressive step which speaks to an engaged and growing marketplace. It is an opportunity to grow and influence the future of this burgeoning industry. Again, you may think I am being naïve and that brands won’t automatically share the industry’s excitement by looking to the likes of Boots’, Barclays’ and Visa’s commitment to women’s football as the benchmark.
So, let me tell you why brands and consumers should be investing their time in women’s sport now.
First, let’s start with all the wrong reasons: Because it’s a lower price point, it’s an entry pass into sponsoring the men’s team and it will boost your awareness. If you’re going to invest, it needs to be authentic. It needs to be genuine and you need to share in the passion in where this road is heading because, and I truly believe this, the future possibilities are ample and endless. Get in now and grow with the sports.
Think of the audiences who already follow women’s sport, who already play at grassroots level and who worship female athletes like they would their favourite singers and movie stars. This audience ranges from being young to old, any race, gender or ethnicity, all sharing in the same passion – Women’s sport.
Businesses investing in women’s sport now,will reap the rewards for a long time to come from this extensive, energetic audience base. It is a chance to inspire and deliver lifetime consumers through brand loyalty.
However, the best reason to be involved? Athletes, coaches, teams and fans alike are prepared to shout from the rooftops about their sport. Where athlete access can be a barrier in the men’s game, the opposite is true in this space. It’s a blank canvas. The doors have been thrown open to unique, engaging content, especially behind the scenes where teams want to show they work just as hard.
If the success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup is a only glimpse into the potential of how women’s sport can change perceptions, grow audiences and inspire millions, the opportunity for brands are endless.
Next in the spotlight is the Vitality Netball World Cup, and with a host of presenters, journalists and fans eagerly waiting to see more female sporting talent, I can tell you now, this is just the beginning for women’s sport. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out.