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The Olympic Games 2018 and Its Fans Essay

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Updated: Jun 29th, 2021


The Olympic Games are one of the most popular sports events, which attracts millions of people around the world. For example, the Winter Olympic Games in 2018 received a viewership of 1.92 million people through different media channels (Billings et al. 536). The aim of this paper is to analyze what Olympic fans have in common. It is not only interesting from a sociological point of view but also has a practical implementation. Knowing the interests that Olympic fans share is of great value for marketers. They can use this knowledge to target their Olympic campaigns at the audience more effectively. The analysis shows that the viewers of the Olympic Games have common preferences in terms of social media use, food consumption, credit cards, and automobiles.

Demographic Characteristics of Olympic Fans

Not all people are equally interested in the Olympic Games. Data show that men are more inclined to become Olympic fans than women (GfK Mediamark Research & Intelligence [GfK MRI]). According to the survey conducted by the Center for the Digital Future, “35% of men and 32% of women” express a high level of interest in the Olympic Games (par. 2). As for the age, the sports event attracts older adults more than younger ones. Compared to the general population, people aged 18-24 are 19% less likely to be fans of the Olympic Games (GfK MRI). The event is not very popular among those aged 25-34 as well; people in this category are 6% less likely to enjoy the Olympics (GfK MRI).

Thus, most of the Olympic fandom consists of individuals over 35 years old (GfK MRI). The Center for the Digital Future has found out that 41% of people aged 55-64 and 43% of those aged 65-74 like to watch the Olympics. Evidence shows that young people are underrepresented in the audience of the Olympic Games, which may be of concern for the organizers and marketers.

Other demographic characteristics of the Olympic fans include ethnicity, income levels, and education. Among people with high interest in the Olympic Games, 73.3% are white, 13.6% are African Americans, almost 16% are Hispanics, and 4.2% are Asian (GfK MRI). The survey of the Center for the Digital Future showed a different percentage, but the proportion of the mentioned ethnicities among fans was similar.

Further, individuals with high incomes are more likely to watch and follow the Olympics (Center for the Digital Future). People with higher levels of education also tend to be more interested in the event than their less-educated counterparts (Center for the Digital Future). Perhaps, the ethnicity of Olympic athletes and viewers’ possibility of watching the competition influence people’s interest in the event.

Social Media Use

Identifying social media preferences of Olympic fans is of great value for marketers because social networks have become an important platform for marketing campaigns. Data show that the most popular social media among Olympic fans is Twitter; it is 9% more widespread among fans than among the general population (GfK MRI). The second popular network is Instagram, while the popularity of Facebook among individuals interested in the Olympic Games is the same as that among the general population (GfK MRI).

Li et al. argue that Twitter is so attractive for sports fans “because of its unique ‘following’ nature,” meaning that individuals decide for themselves whom they want to follow and what news they want to get (3). However, although Twitter is the most appealing tool for social interaction among Olympic fans, only 14.5% of them use it (GfK MRI). At the same time, 25.6% of Olympic fans use Instagram, and 62.4% of them use Facebook (GfK MRI). These findings indicate that, although Facebook is the most popular social media in the U.S., many sports fans find Twitter more comfortable for their needs.

Food and Drinks Consumption

The Olympic Games, being a large social event, are related to increased food and drink consumption. Data indicate that Olympic fans eat more candies, such as Kit Kat, M&M’s Peanut, Snickers, and Twix than the general population (GfK MRI). At the same time, such candies as Milky Way and 3 Musketeers are less popular with Olympic fans (GfK MRI). As for beverages, people interested in the Olympics are more likely to prefer Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, Diet Coke, and Diet Pepsi that the general population (GfK MRI). Such soft drinks as Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, Cherry Coke, Coca-Cola Classic, and Pepsi-Cola are less popular among sports fans (GfK MRI). The data suggest that Olympic followers are more likely to choose low-calorie beverages than those less interested in the Olympic Games.

Generally, this sports event is expected to promote healthy foods. In particular, the organizers of the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 intended to encourage viewers to consume healthy foodstuffs and drinks (Piggin et al. 3). It means that they were to provide customers with natural or minimally processed products (Piggin et al. 5). At the same time, according to the agreements with sponsors, the organizers had to arrange for consumers to buy as many products marketed by sponsors as possible (Piggin et al. 11).

It is worth mentioning that some of the Olympics’ major sponsors were McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola has been financing the Olympic Games since 1928 and invested $7.6 billion in the Brazilian market in 2012-2016 (Bragg et al. 6). Although McDonald’s has recently quit its sponsorship due to public criticism, it still financed the Olympics in 2016 (Bragg et al. 6). Therefore, the organizers failed to provide viewers with enough healthy food and offered them ultra-processed products instead (Piggin et al. 11). Thus, Olympic fans’ choice of food and drinks is largely determined by sponsors and marketers.

Currently Owned or Leased Automobiles

There is also available information about cars owned or leased by Olympic fans. Since these people are 1% more likely to influence other individuals’ decisions related to automobiles, these data can be useful (GfK MRI). The most popular car both among the general population and among Olympic fans is Toyota (GfK MRI). Data show that 8.2% of sports fans prefer this automobile, and it is 21% more popular among them than among the general population (GfK MRI). Moreover, Toyota has been a sponsor of the Olympics, which may have influenced the choice of fans. Furthermore, 7.1% of people, who are highly interested in the Olympics, own or lease Honda, and 7% of fans drive Ford (GfK MRI).

Chevrolet and Nissan are slightly less popular, with 5.5% and 3% of fans having them, respectively (GfK MRI). Overall, such cars as Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan, Mercedes, Honda, Jeep, Ford, and Chevrolet are more widespread among Olympic fans than among the general population (GfK MRI). At the same time, Dodge and Hyundai are in less favor (GfK MRI). Perhaps, Olympic fans appreciate reliability since they choose cars that last long.

The Use of Credit Cards

Credit cards have become a common way of paying for goods and services. It may be expected that Olympic fans use credit cards more readily than those who are less interested in the Olympics. The most devoted fans travel to host countries in order to see the live performance, and it seems to be more convenient to pay for anything with a card abroad. Among Olympic fans, Visa is the most popular credit card (GfK MRI).

It is used by 43.4% of fans, and it is 7% more common among them than among the general population (GfK MRI). It can be associated with the fact that Visa has been one of the sponsors of the Olympics since 1986 (International Olympic Committee 38). Visa is “the exclusive payment services provider and the only card accepted at the Olympic Games through 2020” (International Olympic Committee 38). Therefore, fans attending the Olympic Games are urged to use this payment system.

However, Visa is not the only credit card that Olympic followers use. The second popular system of payment is MasterCard, with 24.7% of fans using it for transactions (GfK MRI). About 12% of people who are highly interested in the Olympics utilize American Express (GfK MRI). Only 8% of them choose to pay with Discover credit cards (GfK MRI). The use of all the mentioned credit cards by Olympic fans is indexed positively compared to the general population. Visa is 7% more popular among fans than among the general population (GfK MRI). Likewise, this difference is 9% for MasterCard, 19% for American Express, and 8% for Discover (GfK MRI). Hence, Olympic followers are more active users of credit cards, with Visa being their major payment system.

Family Restaurants Visited

The final characteristic of Olympic fans to be reviewed is family restaurants that they visit. It has been found that these people 12% more likely to be influencers when it comes to the choice of restaurants (GfK MRI). Eateries that are more popular among Olympic fans than among the general public include California Pizza Kitchen, Dave and Buster’s, Outback Steakhouse, and TGI Friday’s (GfK MRI).

These restaurants are known to offer a lot of fast food, such as pizzas and hamburgers. Such family restaurants as Cracker Barrel and Golden Corral are less popular among people interested in the Olympic Games (GfK MRI). Among Olympic fans, 23.5% prefer to go to Applebee’s, 18.7% eat at Olive Garden, and 12% visit Buffalo Wild Wings (GfK MRI). Based on these data, it may be assumed that restaurants offering fast food are more appealing for Olympic fans than for the general population.


To sum up, this paper reviewed the demographic characteristics of Olympic fans, as well as their interests and preferences, including social media, food and drinks, automobiles, credit cards, and family restaurants. The data revealed that people interested in the Olympics are mainly white men aged over 35, with high incomes and levels of education. Olympic fans mostly use Facebook but find Twitter more convenient for their purposes. They prefer drinking low-calorie soft drinks, but they eat unhealthy foods, which may be attributed to the efforts of marketers toward the promotion of such food. They prefer to drive Toyota’s cars and use Visa credit cards. Finally, Olympic fans choose restaurants that offer pizzas and hamburgers.

Works Cited

Billings, Andrew, et al. “When 18 Days of Television Coverage Is Not Enough: A Six-Nation Composite of Motivations for Mobile Device Use in 2018 Winter Olympic Games.” Mass Communication and Society, vol. 22, no. 4, 2019, pp. 535-557.

Bragg, Marie A., et al. “Marketing Food and Beverages to Youth through Sports.” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 62, no. 1, 2018, pp. 5-13.

Center for the Digital Future. “Center for the Digital Future. 2018. Web.

GfK Mediamark Research & Intelligence. “Olympics Fan Data. Base: All.” MRI Mediamark University Reporter, 2017.

International Olympic Committee. . 2018. Web.

Li, Bo, et al. “Twitter and Olympics: Exploring Factors Which Impact Fans Following American Olympic Governing Bodies.” International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, vol. 19, no. 4, 2018, pp. 1-14.

Piggin, Joe, et al. “Do the Olympic Games Promote Dietary Health for Spectators? An Interdisciplinary Study of Health Promotion through Sport.” European Sport Management Quarterly, vol. 19, no. 4, 2019, pp. 1-21.

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