Currently, market analyses about potential clients in the sports industry is highly focused on Generation Z. The most reviewed strategies in the media are the ones directed to catch the Alphas and even the youngest. Maybe it is time to focus again on the generation that marked the gap in the consumption habits compared to the previous ones, the millennials, to have a view in view of the direction of the sports market.
It is known that the future consumer will be a fluid fan, and that female sport is the industry with better future and more rapidly growing in the whole sector. These changes started with the millennials. If fluid fans are multiplatform fans that, among other habits, consume podcasts and watch games connected with their friends on social networks in second screen experiences, it is because this change also started with the millennials.
Millennials sport consumption traits
This generation showed a significantly higher follow-up of sports using social networks than previous generations, who usually searched for extra information on the radio. Besides, it was also the generation in which sports tastes of men and women came closer in consumption as well as in playing them. The two most important characteristics that define future consumption came with them. In the millennial generation the number of women sport fans reached 45% compared to 41% of Generation X.
In the USA, the slow decrease of attendance to NFL or MLB games started with them, which led clubs to invest in the innovation and adaptation of stadiums to the needs of the audience who has a live experience and simultaneously an online one. With them, the linear fan trait was broken: one who pays for tickets and can buy merchandise at a given moment.
Conventional TV also finished with the arrival of the millennial era of videos online and platforms like YouTube. Broadcasts are now in different levels and sports comment has reached a transmedia dimension. One in which the same story exploits the different possibilities in each media to spread and in which users play a decisive role in that development.
For millennials, being connected, socialising and being part of a community is a very important aspect of their lives. There have been cases in which stadiums were reconstructed downsizing their seating capacity but expanding areas in which fans can interact with each other.
The community concept took a new meaning and the ethical part had to be considered beyond speeches due to the fact that the defence consumers made of them or lack of them was massive and crack free. Never the fight for equality between genders, tolerance and against racism was so forceful in the sports sector. Now, when Generation Z is analysed, it is done based on the idea that an ethical commitment could serve as an attraction or incentive.
This community feeling was also valid for exciting and pleasant situations, and commercial strategies had to be directed to transform the consumption of their products into an experience.
The impact of social networks emergence
With the turn of the century, all the organizations had to approach their presence on the net. First as websites, and in the decade of the 10, also on social networks. This digitization, however, was signalled by another characteristic inserted by millennials. They tended to actively communicate with the organizations they were interested in, and even with the ones they weren’t. Traditionally, communication had one direction, from the first to the second. For marketing, the change in traits was noteworthy. Nowadays, 58% of millennials buy directly to brands while he Generation X barely reaches 37%, and boomers were at 21%. But the future goes in that direction. For Generation Z, the number is 68%.
Emotional content also gained an important role. Not only because it is a sine equal non-condition with the emergence of social networks, but also because it was the most distributed content among millennials, and in which they found more stimuli. Something only they could perfectly understand because they were the ones who stopped consuming sports broadcasts passively, and started to play a role as content creators, most of the time non-profit. In their process of receiving information or experiencing an event, giving their opinion about it, or analysing it in public was included.
In sports, clubs had to shake up their image to adapt to this new reality in which personality, meaning and content had to be added to the product. Today, the creation of micro-stories is frequent in sports companies as well as working with TV platforms on docuseries related to their sports activities and sophistication has reached a new dimension of the fan concept: The NFT.
With the arrival of this generation, clubs’ communication policies were obliged to change traits. Millennials wanted to follow their favourite team and they also wanted someone to listen to what they had to say and demanded answers. Nowadays, this trend points to a future of ‘virtual concierges’ or chatbots to instantly reply to any kind of fans’ requests.
In the same way, this was the generation where video game consumption rocketed. That has facilitated strategies, like NBA creating NBA 2K League, with a basketball video game that is massively followed as eSport. It has also led to the coming of new crossovers, sports integrated into videogames like Hado, or sports created with Artificial Intelligence.
However, the worthiest aspect of the new scenario configured during the decade 10 is that it not only set the guidelines for consumption habits and behaviours of Generation Z, but also it changed the ones of the eldest. Consumption spaces and traits materialised by millennials have also been incorporated into sports fans of previous generations, especially Generation X and boomers. It has been a generation that has renewed and modernised the others.
We are wrong about millennial sports fans
Dan Singer. Media & Entertainment
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