The sport is changing in the wave of female players, influencers and teams. Nielsen analyzes trends

Blockchain and NFT, the evolution of the athlete as an influencer, the success of women’s sport.

For Nielsen, these are the three trends that are transforming the world of sport and sports sponsorship in the most relevant way, as a result of the acceleration of digital habits caused by the pandemic and the entry of new players into the sector.

Blockchain. The hole that was created in the coffers of sports clubs after two years of limitations on events on the one hand and on the other the need for cryptocurrency companies to make themselves known and familiar with a general public outside of financial transactions was the “Astral”. coincidence “that united sport and blockchain.

Gianluca Mazzardi, commercial director of Nielsen Sports Italy

“The injection of liquidity into cryptocurrencies was a benefit for sports clubs, a bit like what happened a decade ago with betting, but here we see more planning,” said Gianluca Mazzardi, Nielsen’s market leader in Italy. illustrating global and Italian data.

If the current trend continues, global cryptocurrency investment in sports will reach 5 billion in 2026. Last year they recorded an astronomical growth of 1,100%.

New agreements are also being signed in Italy, from less than 20 agreements to more than 170, with a growth of 425%, the value of which is also not quantifiable because they often include a share of the revenue share of the digital assets to be created. under the same agreement.

“Second, Mazzardi adds, rights holders have found new tools and languages ​​in NFT and fan tabs to communicate with new fan bases and younger targets. Through fan tokens, people can participate in some of their clubs’ decision-making processes, mainly social and digital activations. It is a kind of 3.0 membership that aims to involve fans in the life of the clubs, creates a more direct communication, almost one by one, and enables a new business narrative for the search for brand partners. NFTs, on the other hand, have a more speculative character, collectibles that are distinguished by their rarity and uniqueness and become a marketable product ”.

Both digital assets are attracting the attention of Italian sports fans, whose spending intention will grow by an average of 29% for fan tokens and 27% for NFTs over the next 12 months.

The next frontier is the metavers, as illustrated by the Australian Open case study which released 6,776 NFTs entitling part of the virtual playing field to Decentraland. “It’s a literally new world, everything to build and where there are no limits, a setting where you can really imagine everything,” says Mazzardi. We must strive to embrace and understand these new worlds, without creating barriers to these new ways of using and communicating. ”

The influencer athlete is the second key trend, as 26% of fans find that following an athlete is a great way for brands to connect with their audience. Italian athletes have a double participation rate (6.65%) compared to influencers in general and an Italian athlete or sports influencer over 20 has a participation rate of more than 10%, with Matteo Berrettini champion with a 12.45 %.

Influential athletes also work well branded content, with a much higher than average performance compared to other Italian influencers. It is strategic for companies to create a mix of champions with a large number of lesser-known or niche fans and athletes who enjoy a loyal fan base.

The big spenders in the category are active clothing (Nike, Adidas, Asics, Diadora, Le Coq Sportif), nutrition (Nestlé Fitness, Matt, Tsunami Nutrition, 4+, Alphazer) and accessories (Sector, Daniel Wellington) and automotive (Toyota, Stellantis), with more than 50 global brands that have signed agreements with Italian athletes and sports influencers.

women’s sport, finally, it generates new sponsorship opportunities, with a real boom in 2021 (+ 146%) in FIFA, Uefa and World Rugby.

Growth in interest is also confirmed in Italy on digital channels, with an average growth of 65% in the base followers of profiles dedicated to women’s soccer teams on Instagram in the last two years, and among the stations that broadcast the matches .

The television audience is also followed by significant growth in Series A Volleyball (+ 10%), 6 Nations Rugby (+ 394%) and cycling (+ 78%). Brands did not wait to expand existing partnerships with men’s teams to women’s teams and launch ad hoc communication strategies.

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