HomeAFLExclusive: Study Reveals What Fans Really Think About Women’s Sport

Exclusive: Study Reveals What Fans Really Think About Women’s Sport

AFLW Premiership Brisbane Lions

Exclusive: Study Reveals What Fans Really Think About Women’s Sport

Following a study released by neuromarketing and neuroanalytics company, Neuro-Insight, into the perceptions of the AFLW among sporting fans, Neuro-Insight senior analyst, Casey Kudrenko, spoke with Ministry of Sport.

The study, which used Neuro-Insight’s nPlicit methodology, explored explicit responses and implicit associations towards six key attributes, being “professional, skilful, weak, boring, entertaining, and empowering”, separately for the AFLW and the AFL.

The major findings of the study revealed fans said they think the AFL and AFLW are both very professional, skilful, empowering, and entertaining, and not weak or boring, however the implicit, or subconscious, responses showed strong associations between the AFLW as weak and boring, with a lower link to professional than the AFL.

Provided by Neuro-Insight

Provided by Neuro-Insight

The findings were further broken down by age demographics, with fans in the 50+ age group showing a strong link between the AFLW as weak and boring, and a strong association between the AFL as skilful and professional.

The 18-49 age group highlighted the AFLW as more empowering than the AFL, with women across the research group having stronger associations between both the AFL and AFLW as weak and boring.

Discussing the findings and the origins of the research, Kudrenko said the results show how brands can best position themselves within sport.

“What led to more of the exploratory research question for us was, is there an actual difference in consumers of sports who engage with brands between AFL and the AFLW and their preferences or attitudes towards them,” Kudrenko told Ministry of Sport.

“And how can we best go about uncovering these attitudes and sub-conscious beliefs, that was really the crux of it all… in adding that rich sub-conscious layer via the design we employed,” she said.

Going into detail about what brands can do to best analyse the data and put it into action in their marketing approach in sport, Kudrenko identified both short-term and long-term strategies.

“The short-term ones would be really about short-time alignment, putting that under the umbrella of understanding attitudes, beyond what people are saying, truly understand the differences between those attributes,” Kudrenko said.

“[Brands can then] gauge that we may be combatting differences between weak, boring and professional, and look at what are the current short-term marketing or creative strategies we have and are brands linking with the true sub-conscious measurement.

“The first step is understanding it and aligning that with short-term marketing.

“The second part is to really build on that long-term association.

“There’s a reason why brands buy into sport, they know it works, they know it excites the brain and people are actively processing information in sport, but it’s also an opportunity to grow a brand attribution as a sport develops an attribution.

“It’s about sticking with a sport beyond a social movement and to actively go after these attributes, but coming up with strategies that can let brands build with the AFLW long-term…

“We’re really keen to help brands be a part of this change, because we’re in a really interesting point where it’s available for brands to jump in at a really good entry level and grow with the sport,” she said.

When asked what the AFLW can do with the data and how they should put the implicit and explicit sports fan perceptions into action, Kudrenko said: “There are some great things in there in terms of what the AFLW projects, and this means they can strengthen their element of communication around their athletes being skilful.”

“People that are going to watch the sport are already entertained with the notion of sport, it just so happens there’s a massive disconnect between what people say and what they are actually thinking about each sport.

“[They need] to really heighten this angle of skilful and develop this notion of a more professional environment.

“They’ve got that in terms of organisational structure, and they’ve really come leaps and bounds in the last 12-18 months in terms of being a professional organisation, but it’s also about building on this element of professional nature of the athletes and the development of skilful and professional could really aid the league,” Kudrenko told Ministry of Sport.

Kudrenko also discussed the future application of the study by Neuro-Insight, suggesting a part two of the project in the next 12 months to assess the change in attributes as the AFLW becomes more common for viewers.

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