A September survey of approximately 12,400 online interviews with sports fans in 10 strategic markets found that Spanish soccer club FC Barcelona is among the most popular sports brands in the world, though it has room for growth in important emerging soccer markets in the U.S., China and Japan.
The study, carried out by the Kantar Millward Brown, a global research agency specializing in advertising effectiveness, strategic communication, media and brand equity research, questioned people in Catalonia, Spain, the U.S., China, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, India, Japan and Indonesia.
The respondents liked the club's big-time players — including Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez — its unique style of play and the club's values. Of significance was the fact those attributes proved especially attractive to female fans. In five of the 10 markets surveyed, at least 40% of FC Barcelona's followers are women.
Barça's fans were also young, especially in the U.S. where more than three-quarters of the team's followers were 35 years old, highest among the markets surveyed.
The second-richest soccer team in the world, according to Forbes magazine, Barcelona had tried to capitalize on its growing popularity in this country by making frequent summer exhibition tours. It played three games here this summer, drawing nearly a quarter-million fans.
The club has also opened five soccer schools and a residency academy in the U.S. and has plans for an expansion franchise in the National Women's Soccer League that is tentatively planned for Northern California.