Notable spending difference between football and athletics fans despite common ground on brand loyalty and customer rewards, new research finds

London, 9 July, 2024 — Amidst an incredible summer of sport, new research by omnichannel marketing expert SAP Emarsys Customer Engagement reveals that football fans surveyed are set to spend almost one and a half times as much as Olympics fans – amidst a wider study of how loyalty underpins consumer spending.

The research, surveying over 2,000 UK consumers as part of SAP Emarsys’ upcoming annual Customer Loyalty Index, finds that shoppers surveyed who are loyal to a football club will spend an average of £118 on watching the Euros. That’s compared to the £83 spent on the Olympics by those following the action this summer – meaning that football fans will, on average, spend 42% more per head.

This spending is in stark contrast to many sports fans’ usual retail habits, where many are cost-conscious enough to abandon their brand of choice in pursuit of better value. 66% of football fans surveyed and 67% of Olympics fans having switched brands due to cost considerations; 67% and 68% respectively will typically replace a purchase if a cheaper product is available.

Indeed, it seems that both sets of fans have similar feelings – and similar behaviours – when it comes to brand loyalty and navigating their summer spending:

  • Around half of both football (48%) and Olympic (51%) fans surveyed expect reduced prices or better deals in exchange for their loyalty.
  • Both sets of fans who consider themselves loyal to a particular retailer/brand/store expect loyalty points or cashback to reward their loyalty – 49% of football fans, and 52% of Olympics fans.
  • That’s despite only a third (35% and 36% respectively) starting to use loyalty schemes in the past twelve months, potentially in the buildup to these events.
  • The exact same percentage for both sets of fans – 42% – are using apps provided by their favourite brands.

As AI becomes an increasingly conventional part of the retail experience, we can also see this reflected in sporting fans’ attitudes towards its use in everyday shopping.

29% of football fans, and 27% of Olympics fans, have switched from a brand they were loyal to due to its use of artificial intelligence. Sports fans are increasingly aware of AI as part of their usual retail experience, and many are willing to exchange their information if it means a more personalised, sophisticated experience.

Kelsey Jones, Global Head of Product Marketing at SAP Emarsys: “AI is an indispensable tool for understanding a consumer’s relationship with a particular brand. From first-time buyers to staunch brand loyalists, AI is the only serious means of tailoring offers and communications for each unique customer and shaping their bespoke experience in real time.

“Sports fans are no different. As one of the most passionate global audiences for any sort of retail, dedicating time, energy, and money to pursue moments of joy and togetherness, we can learn much from their loyalty to their teams. Retail brands want to follow suit, as we can see in initiatives like loyalty programs – whether you’re a fan of a sports team or a consumer brand, you want to see your loyal support rewarded. “At SAP Emarsys, we’ve been able to enable that sort of connection for teams as globally renowned as FC Bayern Munich, enabling the essential access to first-party data and AI-powered campaigns that are the only realistic means of delivering that 1:1 experience at scale. Cultivating this level of customer recognition will strengthen emotional bonds with fans and foster genuine loyalty, leading to a relationship that can span decades and be passed down through generations.”