Amazon just released results from a study of fandom across 12,000 consumers in 12 countries, which it conducted with cultural insights and brand strategy consultancy Crowd DNA.
Intended as a promotional tool for advertising opportunities across Amazon and Twitch platforms, the study looks at fans across five categories—sports, music, video games, science fiction/fantasy and streetwear/sneakers—and includes numerous observations for brand partners.
Overall, fans are receptive to brands. The research found that:
- 63 percent of fans say that any brand can get involved with fandoms as long as they make an effort to understand the fandoms.
- Only four percent of fans said they would prefer not to see brands get involved with their fandom.
- 62 percent of fans feel positively towards brands that have been involved with their fandoms for extended periods of time.
- Over half of fans (55 percent) say they are more likely to consider a brand that sponsors content related to their fandom.
- 54 percent of fans say they can tell if a brand is being authentic. Amazon’s report points out that showing up inauthentically “can interfere with the benefits of fandom for fans—which can result in negative perceptions of the brand.”
- 61% of fans enjoy seeing brands sponsor or create content related to their fandoms. “That includes brands that may not be directly related to the category. However, fans expect the brands that participate to display integrity, authenticity, and relevance.
The survey also yielded new information on the role that being a fan plays in people’s lives, including an important shift that may have repercussions for brands and sponsors.
“More than six out of ten fans (64 percent) say their fandom is a defining part of their identity. Nearly half (48 percent) say their fandom helps them make sense of the world. And more than a third (36 percent) say the No. 1 benefit of being a fan is that it makes them happier.”
When it comes to key emotional benefits of fandom:
- 78 percent identified escapism (e.g., relaxation, mental health, nostalgia)
- 46 percent cited empowerment (e.g., building confidence, finding inspiration)
- 42 percent said identity (e.g., authenticity, reconnection with childhood)
- 40 percent cited community (e.g., strengthening relationships, belonging, making friends)
Looking closer at how fans derive emotional fulfillment from sports and music fandom, the study found “sports are about image, community, and empowerment. Fans emphasize bonding with family and friends, being a leader, feeling like they are part of something bigger, and making friends. Music is about escape, enjoyment, empowerment, and identity. Fans surveyed emphasized emotional motivators such as improving mental health, nostalgia, relaxation/stress relief, and sense of purpose.”
The notable shift is that “the idea of fan ‘culture’ has taken on greater importance vs. fan ‘communities.’ For today’s fluid fans, fan culture is more flexible and broader than community, which can be seen as more defined or rigid. While community is a boon for many fans, fan culture allows the individual to decide how they experience that community. In other words, fluid fans interact with fan communities in their own ways, on their own time.”
That development means brands cannot approach engagement with fans as if they were a monolithic block. It requires more insights into the motivations and aspirations of individual fans and their specific relationships to the activities, organizations and people they are fans of.