Cultural tenets regarding Generation Z have led to disruption within numerous industries, and sports is certainly not immune. Broadly, Gen Z values creativity, innovation, skill, and hard work, and its members are open minded and progressive—and according to new data research from sports entertainment media brand Whistle Sports, this trend manifests as an extremely inclusive view of what defines a sport, with a particular emphasis on emerging activities alongside traditional ones.
The firm’s new proprietary data about the attitudes and perceptions of sports and sports video content among Gen Z males, conducted in partnership with leading Gen Z and millennial research firm Cassandra, has significant implications for sports marketers and content producers.
As the popularity of non-traditional sports continues to grow, non-traditional sports look to take over an even greater share of audience from traditional sports. A majority of men age 13 to 21 (52 percent) already spend more time following non-traditional sports than traditional sports—and half of young men say that following new sports takes time away from those they already follow.
Highlights of the study include:
If brands want to connect with Gen Z, and see ROI on their marketing investments, it is crucial to understand how young audiences define and consume sports. Key findings on ads and sponsorships in relation to Gen Z attitudes include:
- Most young men are frustrated that traditional sports are overloaded with marketing messages, and they watch highlights (55 percent) over full games (45 percent) to avoid ads
- Advertising in sports besides football, basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer has yet to pass the tipping point where it overwhelms; more than two-thirds of young men (69 percent) still say brands are a welcome part of non-traditional sports
- A majority (57 percent) say it is important for companies to sponsor, advertise around, or otherwise support the sports they follow/watch
Brands that advertise around and sponsor non-traditional sports can earn endemic status that results in a lasting relationship between audience and brand—and advertising and sponsoring non-traditional sports can therefore earn an added degree of purchase consideration.
This report was generated through an online quantitative survey fielded from August 7-12, 2018, among young men in the U.S. Whistle & Cassandra interviewed a nationally representative sample (based on age, gender, ethnicity, and region) of 501 13- to 34-year- old young men. In addition, 15 qualitative online interviews were conducted from July 31-August 2, 2018, with 15- to 20-year-old young men for deeper contextual understanding. For the purposes of this study, traditional sports are defined as the “Big 5,” including football, basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer. Non-traditional sports are an activity or competition, aside from the “Big 5,” that young people consider to be a sport like competitive gaming, obstacle courses, trick shots, and more.