Demographic segmentation: How 7 football organisations target the next generation online
Giving fans a tailor-made fan experience is no easy feat when fan bases are made up of a diverse range of demographics. Age, gender, location, ethnicity and income are just a few factors to consider for (sports) organisations when marketing their products. Demographic segmentation of a fan base helps organisations target its consumers more accurately. Consequently enhancing retention and loyalty.
A market segment to target for football organisations, or any other sports organisation, is the next generation. It is possible to turn youngsters into lifelong fans by marketing specifically to their age and by engaging them. Football clubs run kids programmes, have fan zones (often tailored to young fans), let children be mascots and have adjusted ticket prices for children.
In this article we look at how seven major football organisations target the next generation online.
Premier League Kids Hub
In March of 2015 the Barclays Premier League launched a new website targeting 6 to 12 year-olds. In collaboration with Topps, the Premier League offers young fans a virtual environment around their favourite football league and teams.
In order to unlock the whole virtual experience and keep track of their progress children need to register with a parent’s email address. They enter a virtual bedroom where they can play games, read news, complete quizzes and see the standings in exchange for experience points. With the points they can customise their virtual bedroom.
The Premier League kids website has several positive features:
- Two games are offered without the need for registration.
- A parent’s section where a lot of the questions and concerns parents might have, are addressed. For example how to delete an account, how parents can monitor their children and how young fans are kept safe from the potential dangers of the online world.
- The attention for kids safety. No interaction with each other or information sharing through social networks.
- A limited number of games (ten) per day to make sure kids do not play online the whole day.
Real Madrid Kids Planet
In 2015 Real launched Real Madrid Kids Planet, ‘an online virtual world’ targeting 4 to 14 year-olds. Free of charge children register, create their own avatar and play games (train players, complete missions and more). Football is the main focus, but the Real Madrid basketball team is also represented. Premium memberships are available for €4,95 per month.
Positive is that Real Madrid Kids Planet is both in Spanish and English, therefore targeting far more young fans around the world.
The kids zone on the website is also in Spanish and English. It offers four more games to children and adults, like a trivia game and fantasy manager. Hala Madrid Junior, a club magazine for young club cardholders, is marketed here as well.
The Portuguese, French, Japanese, Indonesian, Chinese and Arab websites all feature a limited kids zone. There are no games in these languages, but drawings are available free of charge.
At the end of 2011 PSG announced the launch of a website for kids as part of the PSG kids programme. Unfortunately the website is not active anymore for whatever reason.
The club does have an active Facebook page Junior Club with over 300,000 likes. In January they had 16 posts (solely in French) on the page. Fans can win prizes such as a scarf, being a mascot or being a young reporter.
A fun recently released app for kids is the Wake Up Call. The star players of PSG act as an alarm clock and encourage kids to get up.
FC Arsenal Junior Gunners
Arsenal runs a junior gunners programme and has a site build around this. They segment their junior members into three age groups. Children up to 3 years old get the ‘welcome to our world’ experience, kids between 4 and 11 are junior gunners and 12 to 16 year-olds are young guns. The segmentation and different manners of engagement (young guns and electronic devices and the youngest with colouring) are clearly visible in the promo video for the 2015-16 campaign.
The website offers downloadable drawings, wallpapers and posters, the latest news and competitions. A great feature is that children share their experiences as a mascot.
Arsenal has created a community of junior gunners with over 600,000 likes on Facebook and 16,200 followers on Twitter. The social media pages target kids over 13, as Facebook has a minimum age requirement. Loads of prizes and experiences are up for grabs. The page features the Arsenal and official mascot’s history.
A social media network is a great way to engage the next generation. However, the age restriction limits the target group. Safeguarding the online experiences of these youngsters is of course key.
In the beginning of the 2015/16 campaign Juventus introduced a new mascot J in addition to a new kids section on their website. Although far more features could be offered online, the mascot is integrated in both the online and offline marketing strategy for kids. The Italian version of the website has a beautiful animated video introduction of J, a matching pairs game, a poll and showcases some of the best drawings by junior fans.
A limited version of the kids’ section is offered in English. There are no games yet, but there are downloadable wallpapers and drawing.
Chelsea Bridge Kids
Bridge kids is Chelsea’s website for kids. A very busy design with loads of different features: player cards with extra information, multiple games and puzzles, drawings and competitions.
Neat is the inclusion of the women players in the player cards, which is a great way to target young girls. In addition, young fans are encouraged to submit Chelsea inspired drawings and pictures with a monthly chance to win a prize.
FC Bayern Munchen Kidsclub
The FCB Kidsclub offers many extras to the youngest fans both offline and online. The Kidsclub focuses on children between the age of 6 and 13. The website for the youngest Bayern fans is completely based around the mascot Berni.
The website offers the latest news, information about birthday experiences, a Berni comic and games. Many downloads are available such as drawings, Berni’s song and a calendar with the players’ birthdays.
Bayern Munchen offers quite a lot of resources to the youngest fans that they can enjoy online or download to enjoy offline.
An opportunity lies in offering the online Kidsclub in English, in addition to the German one. The club is recognised worldwide and wants to further expand their international fan base. Targeting the next generation is a great way to get lifetime loyal fans.
Target the next generation
Offering a virtual world to the youngest fans is not complicated and might bring loyalty and rewards in the long run. Simple and fun features such as a matching pairs game, videos with kids as target audience, drawings and posters free of charge do not cost much effort. Some of the examples in this article are great ways to engage the youngest fans online. Arsenal creates a lot of interaction through their online competitions, Real Madrid is able to reach kids all across the globe because the kids zone is in multiple languages and PSG has integrated the stars into kids lives with the alarm clock application.
A strategy for online engagement of young fans should complement any offline marketing strategy a club has for this age group. Important aspects of an online kids zone are that it is free of charge, a safe environment, easy to use, educative and fun.