BLOG | by Sara Eddleston

China’s millennials buck World Cup Buzz trend as memories of tournament participation fade

By general consensus, this summer’s FIFA World Cup was a welcome return to form for the globe’s biggest single-sport event – something which the data we collect around the world reinforces.

Buzz scores around the tournament (our net score of whether people have heard something positive/negative about an event) beat out every other sporting property in almost all domestic markets. Interestingly, even before their team made an early exit, Germans were still more interested in talking about Formula 1 and their domestic soccer league, the Bundesliga.

And while the Germans shows us that not all Buzz about an event is equal, even where it is, there can be fundamental differences in how that chatter is composed. In the case of the World Cup, take a look at the graph below.

*For statistical reasons, age group parameters may vary slightly between countries

The chart shows Buzz scores for the general public in three major markets but also splits out the scores for millennials in each of those countries.

The neat curves peaking towards the end of the tournament show that the property commanded interest during its full duration, something which will please FIFA. So will the fact that, in two of the three countries, it is millennials who are hearing most Buzz about the event. In fact, we saw a trend of millennials over-indexing the general public in every market we looked at but the one you see above – China.

In the People’s Republic, the opposite is the case – Buzz among the general public is higher than it is among millennials. For football’s executives, who have long-courted the country and its fiercely growing middle class, this data shows that there is still work to do to make sure the World Cup baton is passed to the next generation.

But the good news is that everything is relative. Although the composition of Buzz may be different in China, its millennials still peaked more highly than the general public in a number of other countries, including another key market – the US.

And of course the true test of the data will be following a World Cup that includes a Chinese team, something which last happened in 2002 and is therefore just a dim memory for many of the millennials we polled. Only then will we see a true measure of just how excited the country and its young people can become about the Beautiful Game.

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SARA EDDLESTON
General Manager

Sara has over 20 years’ experience in the global market research industry. Since joining SMG Insight in October 2016 she has lead the consumer insight division, maximising the benefits offered to clients through the company’s advanced range of research techniques and its unique partnership with YouGov. In March 2018, Sara moved in to the position of General Manager.

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