Genuine commitment to women’s sport needed from brands
Women’s sport was hit hard at the height of the pandemic and growth since has been hindered by existing inequalities compared with men’s sport. We saw many elite women’s competitions cancelled, teams losing sponsorship and facilities closed.
But we have also seen an inspiring amount of resilience and determination and throughout the sector the feeling is that 2022 is the year for women’s sport. This is the year for us to get back to – and build on – the pre-pandemic growth and success and continue that upward trajectory. 2022 promises some fantastic sporting moments with the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, the UEFA Women’s Euros, the Women’s Rugby League and Union World Cups, the Women’s Cricket World Cup, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, the Women’s Ashes and so much more!
These all bring the potential for increased broadcast audiences, untapped commercial potential and rising consumer interest. Women’s sport is often viewed more favourably than men’s sport – less money-drive, less prone to cheating, more inspirational and more family-orientated* – all positive message for brands to align with, as highlighted in recent Nielsen Report, 'The Rise of Women's Sports'.
The key to unlocking growth within women’s sport is visibility and brands can help with that by introducing potentially new audiences to the experience of participating, supporting and watching women’s sport.
The sportswear industry led the way in this sector, demonstrating an understanding and insight into the female consumer. From designing apparel that is tailored to women’s bodies (no more ‘shrink it and pink it’), to launching marketing campaigns that are bespoke to women’s sport and the female audience.
This is about stepping away from simply replicating campaigns that have worked for men’s sport, breaking the mould and understanding that in order for there to be that connection, we need to see personality, brands aligning with women’s key beliefs (social responsibility being one of them), inspiration and activations that create an emotional response.
There is definitely a growing challenge for brands to break through in an increasingly fragmented digital world where people live on multiple different platforms. However, perhaps because of these additional platforms, brands can approach women’s sport in a different way to men’s sport that has traditional been governed by column inches in print publications and broadcast revenue. Social media gives brands the opportunity to showcase women in sport as multi-dimensional individuals, to be more creative in their digital marketing campaigns and connect with fans and their consumer audiences in more targeted and personalised ways that show a genuine investment in women’s sport.
This International Women’s Day, we would love to see brands genuinely committing to women’s sport – not jumping on the bandwagon of a fast-moving train, but investment that means something. After all, sport is for everyone but a one-size-fits-all approach can’t be the pathway to success.
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