In a time where sports organisations in general are struggling to maintain the attention of younger generations, who have infamously been viewing sports less and less in favour of other forms of entertainment, German football club Borussia Dortmund have been going above and beyond not only to attract, but to maintain Gen Z fans. The European giants have been one of the clubs leading the charge at the forefront of social media engagement, foreign language content and virtual advertising.
Gen Z is a challenge that football has to adapt to in order to maintain its current place as a global leader when it comes to sport. Studies have shown though, that younger fans want shorter and more personalised experiences, and no longer do fans give their full and undivided attention to a full match. Clubs have been forced to begin to adapt to the new demands of this generation through the use of many different platforms and ideas and to some extent, clubs have even begun looking to emerging technology to help solve their problems: streaming football matches live via virtual reality or augmented reality press conferences spring to mind.
In a very interesting move by Dortmund, the club has started their own TikTok account. The app uses short videos where users can lip-sync to music and this is a market that has generally been untouched so far by football clubs. You can see why it’s an intriguing platform for clubs: TikTok is not only popular among younger demographics, but it also has a large user base in Asia, an area of intense interest for European football at the moment. The club is set to feature behind the scenes videos of training, the players, and fan-generated videos. This is a big first step by football clubs to see if they can continue to maintain fan engagement through social media.
The German giants have also signed a deal with Fantastec to use their Swap product, a blockchain based program that allows fans to trade authentic merchandise including autographs and video content safe in the knowledge that they’re getting the real thing thanks to the blockchain security. They are one of the few clubs beginning to move into the market of enabling fan-to-fan engagement through the use of programs to not only grow their fan base but to allow the fan community to build and maintain loyalty.
The club announced recently their partnership with Lagardere Sports to expand the club’s virtual advertising to better cater to certain fan bases. The deal with Lagardere centres around digital replacement technology to allow different companies to occupy the perimeter LED ad-board at the same time in different regions, ensuring that those fans who are tuning into Dortmund games around the world are served with relevant advertising. It’s a case of attracting new fans around the world with digital engagement, but also putting in place a strategy for maintaining them by personalising the experience as much as possible in each region.
As younger generations of football fans grow up and become the core demographic, Borussia Dortmund will be one of the clubs spearheading the change to adapt to these new demands with these clever tactics.
Author: Ross Harrison (Intern at Snack Media)