A matter of age

Now that the dust has settled after the initial release of the findings from our big survey on atmosphere, singing sections and the like, we thought it would be interesting to drill deeper into the data.

We wanted to see first what the ages of the respondents can tell us. Was the spread of respondents’ ages representative of the general fan base? Is there information here that the club can use to address any weaknesses in attracting supporters of a particular age?

So, who responded to the survey? We know it was 3,081 fans. But what age were they? Here’s the answer:

Survey respondent ages

<15         0.5%

15-25     16.5%

26-35     17%

36-45     17%

46-55     22%

56-65     18%

66+         9%

So, a bit thin on the ground when it comes to kids, but a fairly even spread across the ages 15 to 65. No skew, then, from lots of youngsters at one end or pensioners at the other.

While the football club uses different age bands to analyse the spread of ages among season ticket holders, their stats do nevertheless make for an interesting comparison.

Season ticket holder ages (2014/15)

<18         25%

19-30     10%

31-40     8%

41-50     15%

51-60     16%

61-70     14%

71+         12%

What is immediately striking here is the large number of season tickets bought for children and the huge drop from 25% to just 10% and then 8% across ages 19-40.

However, as our survey was responded to by very few kids, for a better comparison we should look just at the adult age-group split.

Adult season ticket holders (2014/15)

19-30     13%

31-40     11%

41-50     20%

51-60     21%

61-70     19%

71+         16%

Setting these side-by-side with the survey figures below (albeit with the different age bands), we see that both are up around the 20% mark for what might be called ‘middle-aged’ fans (highlighted in bold), while the survey attracted more responses from younger adults and season ticket sales are higher among fans of / near retirement age:

Survey responses (15+) Season tickets holders (19+)
15-25 16.5% 19-30 13%
26-35 17% 31-40 11%
36-45 17% 41-50 20%
46-55 22% 51-60 21%
56-65 18% 61-70 19%
66+ 9% 71+ 16%

When reading the results of the survey, therefore, it is worth bearing in mind that the overall age profile of the respondents is a little younger than that of the profile across the club’s current season ticket customer base. Not, however, to such an extent that this puts any serious skew on the results. And given the club’s apparent difficulties in attracting younger adults to buy season tickets, it could be argued that the slightly younger adult age profile of survey respondents is a positive bonus for the executives at Ashton Gate charged with trying to fill a 27,000-capacity stadium, providing, as it does, invaluable insights into what potential customers of that age find attractive.

City fans are too old!
The need for the club to provide a ‘product offering’ that appeals more to the 19-40 age group than is evidently the case at present is made more apparent when the age profile of season ticket holders is compared to that of the population of Bristol as a whole.

2013 census figures show that residents aged 50+ made up just 34% of the city’s adult population, while, City’s 2014/15 season ticket figures show that no less than 56% of the club’s adult season ticket holders are aged 51+. The club’s ‘customer base’ is thus significantly older than the local population as a whole. There is clearly, therefore, a pressing need for Bristol City to redress this imbalance. That means attracting more season ticket holders aged 19-40.

Attracting younger adults
And what is it that those fans in their 20s and 30s want? Well, in the survey the 16-45 age group wanted all the key things that the overall survey respondents wanted – only more so! The tables below show how this key age group for the Bristol City responded in comparison to survey respondents overall.

Want the East End’s informal atmosphere recreated in at least part of the ground:

16 – 45 Overall
90% 82%

Want a ‘singing section’:

16 – 45 Overall
Yes 86% 78%

Preferred singing section location next season 2015/16 (most popular choice):

16 – 45 Overall
Back of South 43% 39%

Preferred singing section location from 2016/17 season (most popular choice):

16 – 45 Overall
Back of South 47% 45%

Want a pragmatic approach taken to standing in a singing section:

16 – 45 Overall
Yes 89% 84%

Preferred unreserved seating location next season 2015/16 (most popular choice):

16 – 45 Overall
Back of South 51% 44%

 Preferred unreserved seating location from 2016/17 season (most popular choice):

16 – 45 Overall
Back of South 52% 47%

Think a singing section will play a key role in generating good atmosphere:

16 – 45 Overall
Completely agree 76% 73%

View of songs like “Darrell Clarke’s mother is a …” and “My old man said be a Rovers fan”:

16 – 45 Overall
Join in / don’t bother me 93% 83%

Likelihood of standing in any future standing area fitted with rail seats.

16 – 45 Overall
Yes 67% 50%
Undecided 21% 22%

Impact of no singing section, no unreserved seating and a zero tolerance of standing.

16 – 45 Overall
My matchday experience would be worse 41% 38%
I’d come to fewer games 20% 15%
I’d stop coming 9% 7%
Combined 70% 60%

The message for those executives at Bristol City and Bristol Sport charged with filling the 27,000-capacity ground from 2016/17 therefore seems clear: the key 16-45 age group will be attracted even more than fans of other ages by an informal atmosphere, a ‘Home End’ feel (‘singing section’) in at least one part of the ground, a pragmatic approach to standing and an element of unreserved seating.

Fail to deliver that and 29% would come to fewer games and over two thirds would enjoy their experience as City fans less.

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