Think You Know Football Fans? Not So Fast

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, December 9, 2019
With the NFL playoffs rapidly approaching and the Super Bowl ad inventory already scooped up, interest in the league is at an all-time high.

Football still maintains its spot as No. 1 sport in America, and brands are eager to connect with its passionate fan base.

To better understand the underlying motivations and interests of the subgroups that ladder up to the 120 million NFL fans in the U.S., we took a look at them through the lens of our algorithmically driven M1 segmentation tool, which allows users to segment people based on behavioral or attitudinal attributes.

What we found are three distinct types of fans:

The American Traditionalist: This group lives for Sundays in the fall. You can often find them in the same seat, wearing the same jersey, drinking the same beer every week because this group values tradition and a strict routine…and a little bit of superstition. To them, the NFL is all about their team. And they live and die by their team's results.



Demo: Men ages 50+ (60%), middle income ($75-100K) with a concentration in the Heartland states.

Mindset: Faith, family and community.

Activities: Golf, fishing, hunting and attending college sports.

Media: Traditional consumption (linear TV or radio).

Interests: Attending barbecues and community events.

Brands: American-made products.

How to win with them: Team-branded products.

How to lose with them: Celebrity-focused sponsorships.

The Watercooler Fan: These guys want to experience the NFL, but believe it's better done with others. While they root for their team, their mood and schedule are not dictated solely by Game Day itself. First and foremost, this group looks at Game Day as their time to hang out with friends and watch all the games in a leisurely way, while casually rooting for their fantasy team.

Demo: Educated, affluent men ages 18-40 years. Not driven by geography.

Mindset: Self-enhancement, achievement and power.

Activities: In-the-moment experiences. Not afraid to pay top dollar for a last-minute event.

Media: Socially connected (80% more likely to be on social media than average NFL fan.)

Interests: The gym, celebrity news, clothing and auto.

Brands: High-fashion brands.

How to win with them: Celebrity and athlete endorsement deals.

How to lose with them: They're here for fun. Keep it entertaining and not too serious.

Sports Behind the Screen: These heavy-duty gamers are hellbent on winning their fantasy football leagues. They are far less interested in playing physical sports, but instead have a high propensity to regularly participate in the gaming aspect of it.

Demo: Male/female split on the younger side of the 18-40 demo, living in non-coastal states.

Mindset: Introverted. Prefer to socialize online versus in person.

Media: Heavy smartphone use (videos, games, content 24/7).

Interests: Movies, music, food and drink.

Brands: Comfort over style.

How to win with them: Integration with fantasy football sites. Music tie-ins.

How to lose with them: Avoid asking for too much physical investment. They're not likely to go to a promotional event.

Clearly, not all sports fans are created equal. As marketers look to hit this highly desirable target group of passionate fans, they need to remember not to treat them all the same. While all of these consumers can agree that they love the NFL, it is for very different reasons.

Editor's Note:The data analyzed in this commentary is derived from M1, which is Dentsu Aegis Network's proprietary database of 242 million U.S. unduplicated adult consumers. This database is comprised of individual, persistent and deterministic identities resolved from more than 40 different data sources, and includes 1,000+ attributes on each.

1 comment about "Think You Know Football Fans? Not So Fast".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, December 9, 2019 at 4:07 p.m.

    So, pretty much as it has always been.

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