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Havas decodes global football fans through new study

MUMBAI: Havas Sports & Entertainment (HS&E), the brand engagement network of the Havas Group, in partnership with the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Innovation Lab (USC), has unveiled an extensive global study that, for the first time, looks across both sport and entertainment to understand how and why fans engage in their passions.

The ‘FANS.PASSIONS.BRANDS’ study offers a novel approach to fan identities by expanding on fan behaviours, attitudes and perceptions to derive an innovative new set of principles that categorises the relationship between fans and their passions: the Logics of Engagement.

The study applies ‘Eight Logics of Engagement’ to fans:

1. The Logic of Entertainment: Enjoyment of the overall experience and atmosphere.
2. The Logic of Immersion: The will to lose oneself in the emotion of the game/plot.
3. The Logic of Social Connection: The desire to create or deepen relationships with other fans.
4. The Logic of Play: Virtual or real-life participation in activities related to one’s passion.
5. The Logic of Identification: Self-association with the team, players/characters and their emotions.
6. The Logic of Pride: Reflection of the action/results in one’s attitude and outward appearance.
7. The Logic of Mastery: Interest in learning and understanding the details behind strategies and stories.
8. The Logic of Advocacy: Championing on behalf of one’s passion.

Given that it is the No. 1 preferred sport globally, football fans represent an interesting case study, and 60 per cent of women worldwide profess to be interested in this sport.

Most football fans prefer their national teams, with some interesting exceptions:

Over half (52 per cent) of people interested in football see their national football team as their No. 1 favourite football team. This applies to a great majority of countries, with the notable exceptions of the UK and Spain, where support is higher for national club teams.

In China, fans selected their national team (25 per cent) as their No. 1 favourite as much as other national teams (26 per cent).

An interesting outlier is the USA, the country least interested in football, where 26 per cent of football fans state that they are more a fan of the sport than an actual team or player.

Market findings

Sport fans in different countries use different logics to engage with their passion.

Over half of German fans cite Advocacy and Play as the logics they engage with the most, which stands out from the global average. Entertainment is the least cited logic by German fans, while it is the most frequently reported logic in France and the UK, which, on the contrary, show very low levels of Advocacy and Play.

For France and the UK, this finding corresponds with the high numbers of people interested in football and low numbers of self-declared very passionate sport fans.

China also stands out, not only as the most passionate country about sport, but also as the only country where fans engage the most through the logic of Mastery, with half of Chinese fans having engaged through this logic. These passionate fans are in line with the global trends in terms of the most cited logics, but with almost double the percentages of global engagement.

In some countries, one particular logic stood out as the favourite by fans. It is Identification in the case of Italy, where 95 per cent of fans support teams from their country.

Portugal and Brazil both share a preference for Immersion, while Colombia, Mexico, South Africa, Argentina and the USA all share a preference for the logic of Pride.

Fans in Poland and Chile engage through Entertainment as the first logic while Russian fans engage through Social Connection by 24 per cent more than any other logic.

A look at very passionate fans & influencers

Fans who declare themselves to be very passionate about sports engage most readily through five of the eight logics: Identification, Mastery, Pride, Social Connection and Play, twice as much as they engage through the Logic of Entertainment, the core logic for casual and mature fans.

These five key logics are also the most cited by very passionate football fans, with percentages of engagement almost double those of sport fans.

Football fans who engage in these five logics also display increased brand awareness, more positive attitudes towards brand recommendation and purchase intent for brands that are involved in football sponsorship.

An overwhelming 61 per cent of these fans think that their favourite team or player should get involved with brands that are committed to making a difference in their community, 15 per cent higher than the global average.

The most influential fans engage strongly through the logics of Social Connection, Identification, Mastery and Pride, which are also the logics that apply to heavy social media users and second screen users.

Global trends

Globally, seven out of these eight logics were strongly cited by global sport fans as the logics they use most to engage in their passion, with nearly one third of all fans finding Social Connection to play a strong role in why and how they engage in their passion for sport, making the relationship with other fans their priority, followed by the logics of Entertainment, Identification, and Pride.

While the logic of Advocacy is the one that comes up the least frequently, fans who engage through this logic do so twice as intensely as fans who engage with other logics.

For fans who identified football as their top passion, the logics of Social Connection and Pride are tied as the most applicable logics. Interestingly, Entertainment comes out as one of the least used logics among football fans, in contrast to sport fans overall.

A different approach to fanship

The new framework developed by HS&E and USC will provide brand marketers with new tools, insights and fan clusters based on deep understanding of context and activators, and how these foster different ways for fans to engage with their passions, brands and the communities associated with them.

Instead of merely boxing fans into categories based on the strength or level of their passion, HS&E and USC have focused on creating a model for analysis based on fan behaviours and attitudes to allow for a much more nuanced approach.

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