Aussie sports fans a tough nut to crack for sponsors with highest level of cynicism globally

fanreportJust 18 per cent of sports fans have recommended brands which sponsor their team to a friend and Australian fans are more cynical than their international counterparts, a new study has claimed.

Repucom’s Fan Revolution study, which sampled 10,000 people across eight countries – the UK, USA, Germany, China, Japan, Australia, Malaysia and Mexico – divided fans into seven distinctive sub-categories, with the aim of discovering what motivates them and where sponsors and rights holders should be focusing their attention.

It identified three which are receptive to sponsorship; trend positives – people who watch sport to identify as a member of a group; game experts – those who want a deep understanding of the game and connection fans – those who enjoy sports for the opportunities to come together with friends/family.

The four other groups, which represent 68 per cent of Australians, are harder to reach, the report said.

They are armchair fans – who like to connect more widely while watching from home; busy – who are relatively disengaged because of other life priorities; disengaged – who don’t care about sport except to watch it on TV and cynics – who view sponsorship as ‘a necessary evil’.

While the biggest single group Australian supporters fell into was connection fans (22 per cent) the second biggest was cynics at 18 per cent – which was the highest amount of any of the sampled countries.

Repucom’s Australian managing director Guy Port said the report illustrates that Australian marketers are faced with a particular challenge in getting through to sports fans.

“It shows us that Australians have a higher filter than fans from other markets,” he told Mumbrella, adding that sponsors need to demonstrate a connection with the sport and to provide benefits for fans if the brand is to resonate locally.


Unlike fans in the US who are “more open” to being sold to, Australians need to be approached in the right way with the right message, he said.

But he rejected the notion that it made Australians among the hardest in the world to reach, insisting it meant sponsors need to be “more strategic” in how they reach and target fans.

“It is more of a warning sign for sponsors,” Port said. “Fans in Australia are more wary so there are no easy wins for sponsors.

“But we see great examples of sponsorship campaigns working so there is a receptive audience in Australia. You just need to be more strategic in how you reach them.”

He stressed cynics are not the largest group in Australia, emphasising the 22 per cent who fall into the Connection Fan category, although that is below the 25 per cent global average.

Australian sport groups

Australian sport groups

It is this group according to the report which “account for the largest proportion of all sponsorship response”.

A further eight per cent in Australia (compared to nine per cent globally) are described as ‘trend positives’ who are “likely to be more positive towards sponsors” and the group “most likely to act” when exposed to sponsorship.

The ‘game experts’ group – which represent 13 per cent of the fan base in Australia, the same as the global average – are also receptive to sponsorship but only if activations “enhance their appreciation of the detail”.

Sponsor activity deemed to “get in the way” will receive a “pretty negative reaction”, the report said.

Of the other categories, 16 per cent of Australians fall into the are armchair fan category which the report described as a “harder audience for sponsors to activate” .

Surprisingly, 17 per cent are ‘disengaged’ against the global average of 6 per cent, with Repucom describing them as a group who don’t care about brands.

The ‘busy’ group also represented 17 per cent of Australians, just below the average, a group who are too frantic in their lives to care one way or another.

“The challenge in engaging them is a way of fitting in with their full lives,” the report stated. “They regard sponsorship as neither good not bad. It’s just the way it is.”

Steve Jones

Sponsorship and fan engagement are key topics at the upcoming Mumbrella Sports Marketing Summit on September 9. Click the banner for details.Sports Marketing Summit


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