Football fans in the UK are known for being many things. They’re fiercely loyal, tribal, and passionate. Equally, they’re opinionated connoisseurs of ‘the beautiful game’.
They’re also one of the UK’s biggest consumer groups. And, while many of the group’s defining characteristics will remain for years to come, it’s their spending habits which our data suggests may well be changing.
English football has, over the years, become synonymous with certain things. Fans are expected to indulge in pies and pints. Fashion-wise, with a few exceptions, there wasn’t much room for flair.
But, times are changing. As the Premier League has grown to become one of the world’s leading football leagues, and TV money has flooded in, prices (and player salaries) have in kind risen significantly. While die-hard supporters remain, this has led to a clear shift in the spending make-up of football fans, as more affluent consumers join the category. Our research showed the extent to which this played out in terms of their spending. The findings were telling.
The best-performing fashion brands among football fans are high-end, with Hugo Boss, Paul Smith, and Ralph Lauren being some of the most popular brands. Restaurant-wise, the winners are urban and expensive. The likes of Hawksmoor and Gaucho fare well.
Our data also suggests that modern football fans are more than just spectators. Compared to the average consumer, they are four times more likely to purchase sports goods from brands like Pro-Direct and Under Armour and twice as likely to visit other sportswear stores, such as Adidas, New Balance, and American Golf.
Clearly, the modern-day football fan is changing. But more importantly, this is a timely reminder that audience categories develop and evolve with time, even the most established. So there are wider lessons for brands. As a marketer, you must stay on top of consumer spending habits to make sure you understand your target audience.
This means not only knowing your own customers, but knowing those of your rivals, and the category more broadly. The brands that don’t have these insights risk being left on the sidelines.