How brands can get in on the hype of fandoms

14 May 2024 | Robert Norman, Senior Content Marketing Manager

Group watching football with football props

Everyone is a fan of something. Some fans collect merchandise while others create and share memes. Some fans line up at dawn to purchase concert tickets or get their hands on limited-edition trainers, while others find joy in tuning in to a livestream or participating in online discussions. One thing is clear: we’re all fans of something.

Working with brand strategy consultancy Crowd DNA, we set out on a mission to learn more about how hype is born, how fandoms play a role in our lives and how brands can authentically engage with fans. Here are some of the insights we uncovered:

Our passions give us purpose

For many fans, entertainment is just one benefit to participating in a fandom. Being involved in a fandom helps meet our emotional and social needs, such as giving us a sense of safety, belonging and esteem. These needs help us understand how we exist in, and navigate, the world.

In our research, we found that 64% of fans surveyed report that their fandom is a defining part of their identity.1 Whether they’re seeking nostalgia or a much-needed escape, each fandom offers unique benefits. For example, participating in music, video game and sci-fi and fantasy fandoms can better fulfil emotional needs—such as relaxation—whereas participating in sports and streetwear and trainer fandoms can better fulfil social needs such as establishing one’s image in a community.

Regardless of what we’re passionate about, being a fan gives us purpose.

There’s more than one way for fans to experience community

Fandoms are largely a shared experience, and connections with other people—whether on- or offline—help keep our fandoms alive long after a film leaves the cinema or your home team’s winning streak comes to an end.

Community is integral to the fan experience but manifests differently for each fan. In our report, we uncovered a new type of fan that we call the “fluid fan”. Fluid fans view community through a new lens, and the shared culture found within fan communities is just as important as the connections that they foster.

The rise of fluid fans offers brands more opportunities to be a part of the hype found in fandoms.

Brands can—and should—get involved

Fan culture today is defined by its inclusivity—and this attitude extends to brands. In our research, 63% of fans surveyed agreed that any brand can get involved with fandoms as long as they make an effort to understand them. 2

Fans today seek new ways to engage and connect with their fandoms and they are welcoming to brands that bring value to their passions. Of the fans we surveyed, over half say that they are more likely to consider a brand that sponsors content related to their fandom. But what exactly are fans looking for? Music fans surveyed appreciate it when brands find ways to offer deeper artist interaction, more concerts and behind-the-scenes access. Streetwear fans and trainer fans on the other hand (or foot) enjoy it when brands provide tips and tricks from their favourite style icons and exclusive access to the next big drop.

Brands don’t just have permission to engage with fandoms, they have their encouragement. In our full report, we explore the different ways brands can tap into fan communities, support fans on their journeys to immerse themselves in their passions and join the hype.

1–2 Twitch Ads and Amazon Ads with Crowd DNA, Sep 2022–Feb 2023, AU, BR, CA, DE, ES, FR, IT, JP, MX, SK, UK, US. Total n=12,000; per country n=1,000