LONDON, UK, 16th August – New research from the Women’s Sport Trust, in partnership with The R&A, proves there is a substantial opportunity for women’s golf to capitalise on its highly engaged fanbase and bring new sponsors to the sport.
The research findings were revealed at a Women in Sport Summit during The R&A’s staging of the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath in Surrey, when American Lilia Vu triumphed to deny the hopes of England’s Charley Hull.
More than 51,000 fans were also treated to a Festival Village with chances for newcomers to the sport to experience fun formats, hear from role models in sport and business and enjoy a Saturday evening concert with global superstar Ellie Goulding.
The research shows that 2.5 million people in the UK declare themselves to be avid* fans of women’s golf. Whilst there is a need to grow the size of this avid fanbase, this current group of fans is still of significant commercial value to sponsors:
- In line with other avid women’s sports fans, the majority of avid women’s golf fans (77%) say they are responsible for most financial household spending decisions
- 70% of avid women’s golf fans feel more positively towards brands that sponsor women’s sport
- Nearly two-thirds (63%) of avid women’s golf fans said they would actively purchase/use brands that support women’s sport over ones that do not
- Nearly two-thirds (63%) of avid women’s golf fans said they are more likely to be loyal to brands that show a long-term commitment to women in sport
There is also an opportunity to increase passion at each level of the women’s golf engagement funnel. While avid fans account for 2.5 million people, there are 5 million engaged fans and 7 million occasional fans of women’s golf, showing there is huge potential reach of the sport.
From a content perspective, the existing avid women’s golf fan group are highly engaged. They consume more non-live content every day than other women’s sports fans and more of them are engaging on a daily basis with a broad set of content channels. Despite this, avid women’s golf fans feel under-served by the amount of non-live content available to them and find it hard to find and access.
While live content and highlights are the most popular content experiences, a quarter (26%) of avid women’s golf fans declared themselves to be very interested in produced content (e.g. documentaries), in comparison to 15% of other women’s sports fans. A quarter (26%) of avid women’s golf fans were also interested in behind-the-scenes and lifestyle features around women’s golf, compared to an average of 14% amongst other women’s sports fans.
In line with other women’s sports fans, spotlighting the athletes drives engagement for avid golf fans, with player skills, best shots/highlights packages and player personality stories the content types that most appealed.
From an event attendance perspective, avid women’s golf fans are most interested in brand activations focused on VIP experiences, hospitality experiences and entertainment performances.
Tammy Parlour MBE, CEO and Co-founder of the Women’s Sport Trust, said: “While women’s golf may not yet share the popularity of other major women’s sports in the UK, our research shows growing interest from younger audiences.
“The opportunity for women’s golf to attract commercial partners could be vital for unlocking investment in the sport and that in turn can also play a role in generating more visibility. This will be especially the case if brands activate their sponsorships by providing the type of content these fans want, both in terms of skills-based content celebrating the brilliance of elite women’s golfers, as well as documentary and lifestyle content that over indexes amongst avid women’s golf fans.’
Georgina Lewis, The R&A’s Marketing Director, said: “Our partnership with the Women’s Sport Trust around this year’s AIG Women’s Open has allowed us to play a leading role in the industry in helping to better understand the needs of women’s sports fans, especially those who are already highly passionate about women’s sport.
“While women’s golf still has much work to do in growing its fanbase, building on key moments like the AIG Women’s Open, it is hugely encouraging for the research to show both the passion for women’s golf and their attractiveness to commercial partners amongst our most avid fans.”
Last month, the Women’s Sport Trust and The R&A released a detailed study, which was also conducted by Gemba, on how committed women’s sports fans, in that instance defined by both their passion score and consumption of at least one hour of live content of their chosen sport each week, feel under-served by current content experiences in women’s sport.
*Avid fans are defined as those who declare a passion score of 5/5 for a particular sport