Fan Clubs Market in US

Goals

To provide an assessment of the potential of the fan clubs market, by segment if possible, to inform business strategy and planning.

Early Findings

Fan Clubs: United States

  • According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a fan club is "an organization for people who admire the same singer, performer, football team, etc."
  • A fan is typically someone who has developed a "sustained and meaningful attachment" to the personality or performer.
  • Fan clubs are typically "official" (endorsed by the celebrity, team, athlete, personality, etc.) or "unofficial" (driven by the fans themselves and not necessarily endorsed by the celebrity)
  • Fan Clubs can be free or paid, offering benefits for both fans and the artist/athlete/celebrity.
  • Prior to the emergence of digital platforms, fan clubs typically offered access to benefits, such as tickets, a signed letter or photograph, publications and "insider information" about a personality, and face-to-face meetings via conventions and concerts.
  • More modern fan clubs have migrated toward online fan communities.
  • GlobalWebIndex notes that participation in online communities, which include consumers who "are very tight-knit groups, often sharing experiences and knowledge about a specific subject they care about" have grown from 72% participation in 2017 to 76% in 2019.
  • While fan clubs span a diverse array of topics, the most commonly discussed and referenced revolve around sports, music, celebrities, or a shared passion (e.g., Star Trek).

Music Fan Clubs

  • "Contemporary fan clubs" offer an opportunity to create online fan communities in the digital marketplace that allow fans to "participate in meaningful relationships with artists and be proportionally rewarded for their level of loyalty" and "be listened to and valued." Not only do fans want access to "information, products, and the artist", they want to feel "listened to."
  • In 2019, fan clubs were highlighted as a music industry trend ("fan clubs are back and more beneficial than ever") due to the desire of fans for direct access and a desire for artists to engage efficiently with their most loyal consumers (versus "open access" social media engagement).
  • Revenue opportunities based on music fan clubs include direct revenues (annual fees, subscription models) and indirect revenue sources (growth in loyal member followings based on communication by "top fans").
  • Fan clubs typically offer fans benefits such as exclusive merchandise and content, live streams, concert replays, annual "gifts", and "meet and greet" opportunities via an annual fee or subscription.
  • "Top fans", who buy VIP experiences, merchandise, tickets, and download or stream music are a key benefit for personalities, potentially driving awareness and helping grow a following for a music artist.
  • Data analytics, collected from engaging with and tracking fan club participants, can both support personalized engagement strategies, but also help artists "efficiently launch tours, introduce new merchandise, release music and create special events."
  • Services, such as Fan Clubhouse, have emerged to support the building of fan communities in the music industry. Their service is positioned as one that " integrates memberships, meet and greets, ticketing, and social networking to give fans the ultimate “personal experience” with the artist they love."
  • Neil Young launched a subscription model to access his archives ($1.99 per month, $19.99 per year). Culture journalist, Ann-Derrick Gaillot describes Young's approach as, "combining old-school patronage and fan clubs with new-school internet monetization and fan subscription services, a la Kim Kardashian."
  • Indie rock band, the National, launched a fan club in 2018 ($50 annual fee), offering "exclusive merchandise and “annual collectible vinyl,” on top of the promise of priority ticketing for concerts and exclusive content."
  • Bungalow-B, the fan community for Michael Buble, offers various levels of access. The lowest-end membership is $25, offering a one-year membership and a discount on merchandise, while the $200 "Limited Edition" membership offers additional perks, including discounts and merchandise.
  • Taylor Swift experimented with the fan club membership model in 2018 by launching "The Swift Life", a private community app offering the promise of access to the singer, but shut down in 2019 due to lack of revenue.

Sports Fan Clubs

  • US Sports clubs are looking to European models of sports fan engagement, by launching "proprietary subscription-based fan clubs for remote followers built around exclusive team content and other traditional perks, such as merchandise discounts and the chance for fans to forge niche communities in far-flung corners of the globe. "
  • In December 2019, NHL team, San Jose Sharks, launched fan community, "1991 Club", which offers access to featured content, discounts, personalized content, and merchandise for $25 annually ($199.10 for a 10-year membership). The company currently has 400 subscribers and is expecting to generate six-figure revenue.
  • The Golden Knights is another NHL team who "reviewed several English Premier League teams’ supporters' models before offering VGK Worldwide memberships for $120 in April 2019."
  • Many sports teams have multiple fan clubs. Soccer club, FC Bayern, has 140 fan clubs in North America, offering benefits such as discounts, access to tickets, exclusive events, and the opportunity to be "part of the largest supporters club in the world."
  • Fanwide is a technology service that facilitates "watch parties" for fans. Teams and leagues generate revenues from bars hosting "watch parties" and associated brand sponsorships.
  • FanTribe is a "social rewards-based, fan engagement platform" offering subscription and performance-based revenue models. It offers customer benefits including rewards, news, game day features, and exclusive auction merchandise. It offers sports brands the opportunity to track engagements with their most loyal customers.
  • Some sports clubs with the largest fan bases globally include Manchester United (650 million worldwide fans) and Real Madrid (350 million worldwide fans). "Maintaining and growing a fan base" is a key strategy for business growth for Manchester United.
  • This LA Times article notes that Bayern Munchen is growing its fan base in the United States, in part due to fan clubs, which have grown from 8 to 139 fan clubs across 38 US states. The growth in the fan base is traced to younger (43% under 25), male (82%) fans, who are drawn to the franchise due to a favorite player or the club's success.

Celebrities

  • Community, which promotes text-based interactions between celebrities and their fans, offers a more personal, authentic way for celebrities to engage with their loyal base, beyond open-access social media interactions. Rival IQ social analytics firm noted that "98% of the texts sent through Community are opened within the first three minutes of reading", which compares to 1.6% interacting with a post on Instagram, .48% on Twitter, and .09% on Facebook.

Related Market Statistics

  • The sports analytics market is predicted to grow at a 22% CAGR between 2019 and 2024, due to data-driven decisions associated with "various fan engagements" and rising number of leagues. North America holds the largest market size in this industry.

Summary of Early Findings

  • We were unable to uncover any specific information surrounding the market size or growth of the fan club market in the United States, which is likely due to a numerous and diverse range of fan clubs, across industries, brands, personalities, and teams, with varying revenue-generating models. Additionally, there appear to be a number of platforms facilitating fan engagement, which add to the complexity of the industry.
  • We were able to identify a number of news articles, expert commentary, trends, and examples which indicate that fan clubs in the United States offer potential and benefits for both the fan and the personality or team. We found that a number of fan clubs are leveraging subscription-based models for an ongoing revenue stream and digital platforms are providing an opportunity for more unique engagement models (e.g., rewards, revenue-generating "watch parties")
  • The growth in fan clubs appears to be driven by a desire of fans to develop a stronger relationship with the property/personality and actively engage in the process (though more traditional "perks" such as VIP access and merchandise were also commonly observed reasons to engage with fan clubs).
  • Digital fan clubs offer the ability for properties/personalities/teams to track and understand their loyal users. This is one factor driving the growth of the sports analytics market, which is projected to grow at a double-digit rate through 2022.
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address your goals.
  • Research recommendations are based on information uncovered in early research.

Proposed next steps:

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