The power of fangelism

New research has found if brands play by the rules they can harness the opportunities of engaging with sporting and cultural fans

Fandom in Australia is worth $4.3 billion, with each fan spending on average $909 per year on their particular fandom and aligning with the right fans represents a significant opportunity for brands, according to new research by Powered, Nine’s marketing solutions division.

The research revealed 28 per cent of Australians consider themselves fans of something and at the heart of each fandom lies a core value, with fans connecting with that value on an emotional level, rather than the specific subject matter of the fandom.

Powered director of strategy, insights and effectiveness, Toby Boon, said brands have a real opportunity in this largely untapped industry, although they need to be willing to work for it. “Brands have to be prepared to put in the effort, just like the fans they are trying to reach,” Boon said.

The independent study conducted by FiftyFive5 and Powered spoke to 1400 people across 35 different fandoms in Australia to discover what they do, when they do it, why they do it, and how the marketing industry can effectively tap into it to make brands grow.

The study found there are three particular behaviours which can identify a fan: Participation - contributing and sharing in their fandom; Investment - spending time and money on their fandom; and Dedication - they show their devotion in good times and bad to their fandom. 

However, while few brands are successful in creating their own fandoms, the research found a brand can be a fan itself and connect with valuable customers through shared fandoms. To achieve this, a brand needs to exhibit the three core ingredients of fandom: participation, investment and dedication, while also proving a value alignment. 

In addition, brands need to take note that they must learn and abide by the ‘rules’ of fandom. For instance, Boon noted, 10 per cent of fans are getting tattoos of their fandom, 7 per cent are naming their children after it. “These are the lengths fans go to in order to prove their fandom,” he said.

There are also two distinct groups of fandom, according to the research. ‘Mainstream’ fandom, such as sport or TV, which is prominent within the culture and is about being part of something which is socially acceptable and socially acknowledged. By contract, ‘challenger’ fandom is identified as early and may become mainstream. “If brands are able to identify with challenger fandoms early on, then they may be recognised by fans as dedicated and long-term,” Boon explained.

While challenger fandoms are less popular and socially accepted they make up a sizeable cohort of the Australian fan base, with one in three classed as challenger fans. “For brands, there lies a real opportunity in taking a fandom from challenger to mainstream based on the fandom being able to borrow the mainstream equity of the brand,” said Boon.

Just like mainstream brands, mainstream fandoms uphold the status quo and support and promote the norms of the category or the world. Challenger brands, like challenger fans, subvert and try to change the rules and norms of the category or the world in order to become more accepted. 

Brands have the opportunity to align with either mainstream or challenger fandoms. Boon noted, however, that very few brands have their own fans, but if they follow the three principles of participation, investment and dedication they can open up access to that particular fandom and the opportunities it offers.

Finally, what drives fandom are values and there needs to be an alignment of values between the brand and the fan. “It’s important brands are sincere in aligning with a fandom. And if they are, it should drive results,” he said.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Craig Davis

​Leadership resilience, startups scaling up, marketing best practices, customer insights - these are just a few of the topics we manage to explore in the latest episode of Conversations over a Cuppa with CMO featuring Craig Davis.

More Videos

JP 54, D2, and D6 EN590,JET A1 AVAILABLE ON FOB DIP AND TEST IN SELLER TANKWe Can supply Aviation Kerosene,Jet fuel (JP 54-A1,5), Diesel ...

Collins Johnson

Oath to fully acquire Yahoo7 from Seven West Media

Read more

JP54,D2, D6, JetA1 EN590Dear Buyer/ Buyer mandateWe currently have Available FOB Rotterdam/Houston for JP54,D2, D6, JetA1 with good and w...

Collins Johnson

3-pronged marketing approach for property disruptor Brickx

Read more

With a response rate of 80-90%, a well optimized chatbot is a must-have for every business. Check out this link to explore how you can en...

Drishti Khurana

How NRMA’s Arlo the Koala chatbot won over customers

Read more

Hey, With a response rate of 80-90%, a well optimized chatbot is a must-have for every business. Check out this link to explore how you c...

Drishti Khurana

7 innovative brand chatbots

Read more

hey Ever wondered how a business could leverage WhatsApp to grow? Find out here - http://s.engati.com/2rf

Unnit Dedhia

Sydney Uni taps AI for new COVID chatbot

Read more

Blog Posts

Life beyond the cookie: 5 steps to mapping the future of marketing measurement

​There’s no denying there’s been a whirlwind of response to the imminent demise of the third-party cookie from all parts of the industry. But as we’ve collectively come to better understand the implications, it’s clear this change is giving the digital advertising industry the opportunity to re-think digital marketing to support core industry use cases, while balancing consumer privacy.

Natalie Stanbury

Director of research, IAB Australia

Ensuring post-crisis success

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed brands’ CX shortcomings and a lack of customer understanding. Given ongoing disruption, customer needs, wants and expectations are continually changing, also causing customers to behave in different ways. Just look at hoarding toilet paper, staple and canned food, medicinal and cleaning products.

Riccardo Pasto

senior analyst, Forrester

A few behavioural economics lesson to get your brand on top of the travel list

Understanding the core principles of Behavioural Economics will give players in the travel industry a major competitive advantage when restrictions lift and travellers begin to book again. And there are a few insights in here for the rest of the marketing community, too.

Dan Monheit

Co-founder, Hardhat

Sign in