Pink It And Shrink It No More For Female Fans

On every Saturday during this time of year, our house is decorated in orange and blue. Even though our children are very young, they know better than to get in the way of the television when the Gators are playing. You see, these are simply my wife's rules. As an alum and avid fan of the University of Florida, she is among the millions of women who love college football -- a powerful consumer group that marketers are beginning to tap into.

When it comes to appreciating the value of the college football fan, major marketers have opened their wallets for decades. Brands like AT&T and UPS have enjoyed partnerships with the NCAA and/or universities. But now is the time for these brands to enhance their college sports partnerships by developing a valued -- and often overlooked -- target: female fans.

The basic numbers say it all. Women account for a significant portion of college football fans. More than 39 million adult women across the country are fans of college football, whether or not they live in a location that has a major team. On a local level, women make up a significant portion of game attendees. For example, nearly half (48%) of adults who attended a University of Georgia football game during the past year were women.

That means that any brand using the college football sponsorship platform could be losing as much as half the audience of a single event if it is not carefully including women as part of the message. It could also be a loss of opportunity to reach potential female customers when they are engaging in something they love.

But the reason for this loss isn't exclusively due to lack of targeting the female fan base. It's also because female-oriented strategies can fall short. In the past, many marketers have approached targeting women sports fans with the "pink it and shrink it" strategy: in other words, just take a jersey, color it pink, shrink it down to fit a woman, and sell it. Or, on a macro level, take the strategy you're using to target the general fan base and "pink it & shrink it" to suit the female fan.

While no doubt there is and will remain a certain market of women who will still respond to that strategy, the amount of money marketers are spending on sponsorships and activation warrants a more sophisticated approach. That said, I encourage college sports sponsors to play to the strengths of female fans to get the most out of their investments:

  • Analyze: Find the unique attributes of a team's or conference's female fans and leverage them. A recent analysis from Scarborough found that SEC female fans are home owners, avidly purchase items for the home, and are big investors in home improvements. This makes them unique targets.
  • Acclimate: Adapt your sponsorship plan into something that can better target female fans. For example, SEC female fans are not only home owners, but also more likely to be employed in white-collar positions and to be African American. So your home improvement sponsorship could include messaging that will better resonate with these unique demographics.
  • Activate: On game day you can capture female fans doing something they truly love: interacting with the sport. Take your sponsorship to the ground level and get female fans interacting with your brand in conjunction with the game. Whether in-stadium or via a game broadcast, promotions can provide the female fan with even more opportunity to engage with a brand.

And, above all, get out of the way (as we do in my household!). Make the sponsorship something that is part of the fabric of the college sports experience, not something that interrupts it.

Trust me from personal experience: you do not want to be between a female college sports fan and her team on game day!

3 comments about "Pink It And Shrink It No More For Female Fans".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Monica Bower from TERiX Computer Service, October 12, 2010 at 12:09 p.m.

    As an avid college football fan myself, I have to say I'm of two minds about this. While I would appreciate tons of gear sized for my female form factor, and pink jersey repaints are amusing and appealing, the idea that female fans are being missed by traditional marketing begs the question of how college football was able to attract 39 million adult women in the first place.

    Just as marketing to Hispanics isn't a matter of translating everything to Spanish and slathering it in hot sauce, marketing to women treads a line very close to offending women if you aren't very careful and conscious of what you're doing. Football fans are fans. They may be conscious that they're bucking a stereotype or even revel in the 'manliness' of their preoccupation inside certain older demographics, but under age 45 or so they have the same interests as the men do - a party atmosphere, good snacky food, beer, jerseys and logo wear, soft drinks...Going full-on 'girly' just to reach a female audience is inappropriate. But advertise during a football game how your nail polish won't chip when you open a beer can, and you'll probably win customers by the hundreds of thousands.

  2. john thomas, October 15, 2010 at 5:36 a.m.

    Just as marketing to Hispanics isn't a matter of translating everything to Spanish and slathering it in hot sauce, marketing to women treads a line very close to offending women if you aren't very careful and conscious of what you're doing. Football fans are fans.
    <a herf="" rel="dofollow">cheap cars for sale</a>

  3. Gerry Myers from Advisory Link, October 16, 2010 at 4:56 p.m.

    It is always appropriate to look at your marketing and see if it is:
    1. Attracting the demographic you are seeking
    2. Resulting in sales and buzz
    3. Offending anyone
    Advertising doesn’t have to be “girly” to appeal to women, but it can’t be offensive either. While 39 million women are college football fans, that has more to do with the sport, than the type or marketing done by products and sponsors.

    There are several ways to attract female consumers including creating a Women’s Advisory Board, advertising things of interest during the game and not thinking the “pink it and shrink it” philosophy works today. It doesn’t.

Next story loading loading..