In an exclusive commentary for Gulf Physio, Senior Research Analyst, Dorothy Calba, shares her insights on the role the expansion of women’s football and women’s sports more broadly can play in the physio and sports equipment space.
How physio brands can score big from 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup success
Fan excitement ran high at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. Over 1.9 million fans attended games in Australia and New Zealand, setting records both in total attendance and average attendance per match for a Women’s World Cup. Viewership also surged in many markets, including the semi-final, which was Australia’s most streamed event ever and the most watched television programme in the country in more than two decades. The tournament also set viewership records for women’s football in China, the UK and other markets. This growing interest in women’s football can be seen in domestic leagues as well.
Attendance for women’s club football leagues skyrocketed over the past five years, with English WSL leading the pack with average attendance growing 729% from 839 in 2017 to 6,961 in 2022
Source: Euromonitor International
This growth presents an opportunity for physio brands to invest in women’s sports teams and sponsorships and build a new customer base, providing products for professional and amateur athletes alike.
Sports teams invest in physiotherapy products to keep their players healthy and at peak performance ability. According to online physiotherapy store, GulfPhysio, based in the United Arab Emirates, sports teams such as rugby teams, spend on average between AED600 (USD163.35 with USD1 = 3.67250 AED) to AED5,000 for physiotherapy items (USD1,361.25).
GulfPhysio talks to Dorothy Calba, a senior analyst at Euromonitor International, to share some strategies that physio brands can do to attract football teams.
Q: Are football teams investing in physiotherapy products globally in the last three years? How much investment are they putting into these products from 2019 to 2022?
Calba: The expanding professionalisation of women’s football globally is sure to be a boon to the physiotherapy industry. As more leagues become professional and expand the number of players involved, the amount and quality of equipment required is expanding as well.
While many leagues before professionalisation probably didn’t have full physio staff, having a full physio and medical staff is now commonplace. This also includes the expansion of rehab equipment and strength training equipment. As women continue to fight for equal pay and opportunities, equal access to products that help prepare their bodies for the game, and aid recovery, is also in the “conversation”.
Q: What strategies should physiotherapy brands use to attract football teams?
Calba: I would say that showcasing products that are specifically designed for women is increasingly important. Throughout the history of sporting products, a vast majority of items have been built for and designed around the male body.
Everything from running shoes to athletic braces have been made to increase the performance of male athletes, and female athletes have been forced to use these products as there was usually no viable alternative.
We have seen brands in recent years come out with products designed for women and various sportswear brands emerge that only produce products for women. In 2023, Nike Launched its Phantom Luna football cleats that were researched and designed specifically around the women’s foot. Lululemon also came out with a running shoe designed specifically for women in recent years. These types of product offerings are key to attracting new consumers and to providing equal athletic opportunities to women.
The sports apparel and footwear market overall is showing impressive growth, with performance footwear expected to grow by a CAGR of 6.6% between 2023 and 2027
Source: Euromonitor International
In 2023 alone, the market is expected to grow by 29%. Offering women-focused products will allow brands to capitalise on this growth.
Q: How has the approach of sports-related brands towards football sponsorship changed compared to the pre-pandemic phase?
Calba: With major sports leagues back in full swing following the pandemic, marketing has returned to focusing on major events, both in what they feature in their ads and where they are displayed.
In the past few years, investment in advertising across women’s sports has grown as brands see opportunity here and instances of marketing directly to women and featuring women athletes, instead of just marketing to the sporting community more broadly, will continue.
Read our article Why Brands are Seeing Value in Women’s Football Sponsorship for further analysis on the financial benefits of investing in women’s football.