As UFC experienced boom years in both North and South America, their presence in EMEA was still relatively niche, with pockets of fans as opposed to a booming fan base. UFC wanted to attract more fans and generate more revenue in the EMEA market. However to do this, we knew they first needed to understand who their current and potential fans were.
In order to gain a comprehensive understanding of this audience, our strategic planning and insight department Fanatic took advantage of the approaching Fight Night 30 event, hosted at the iconic Manchester Arena, to conduct live on-site research. We brought together a large research team who spoke to fans both inside the arena as well as within the wider city centre, using a combination of surveys and one-on-one interviews. We also captured a huge number of photographs and video and audio recordings, with a division of the team dedicated solely to observational research. Alongside the event research, we also conducted interviews with UFC staff as well as looking into the wider brand and existing fan base to gain a more detailed picture of how UFC could connect with an EMEA audience.
This research was brought together during an intensive analysis phase, resulting in the creation of a new EMEA fan segmentation model based on the key drivers, behaviours, motivations and passion points of this audience. Interestingly, we found that UFC have a unique fan base make-up compared to other sports; whilst UFC fans could be segmented in a similar way to those of established sports such as boxing or rugby, we also discovered a number of unexpected but crucial sub-segments, similar to those often seen in newer, more niche sports. Alongside this new segmentation, we also provided UFC with a detailed recommendations toolkit showing where, when and how to engage each segment, including guidance on live events and activations, on and offline channels, language, tone of voice and utilising assets.
We spoke to over 600 UFC fans, with the event providing a priceless opportunity to interact with this audience at their most engaged and ‘fanatic’, confirming our belief in the power of live research
The new fan segmentation model was instantly adopted by the team at UFC, providing them with a much deeper understanding of the EMEA fan base and how to engage them. Since Fight Night 30, attendance at UFC EMEA events has increased from 60% to 100%, with the last three events completely sold out. Meanwhile, the growth in the EMEA fan base has enabled UFC to attract a number of new commercial partners, boosting commercial revenues by over 60%.